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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Obama's Czars

In this series we are going to look at the czars Obsma hass appointed to oversee snd answer for the security and well bring of the United States and her citizens. 

Webster defines czar as one having great power or authority. 

For America, this term identifies a person with great authority over a particular policy. This person is selected and appointed by and answerable only to the president. This is a person who tells people what to do in an autocratic way or who determines behavior in a particular sphere.

Who does this to Americans? It started with President Roosevelt and has accelerated over time. 

As disturbing as it was to learn that Bush appointed 33 czars, it is even more so horrifying that Ovama has appointed 52 czars and has 18 slots awaiting czars now.

The following includes the position, the appointee, and some quick basics as to who these people are that have so much power and so little accountability.

Marc Grossman
Marc Grossman was a career Foreign Service officer from 1976 to 2005. He retired as the U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, with previous service as a director general of the Foreign Service, assistant secretary of state for European affairs and ambassador to Turkey.

It also bears mentioning that this is the man chosen to hold meetings in Qatar with Taliban leaders from Afghanistan.

Grant Coffax
Is the focal point for the administration's goal of "zero new HIV infections." That would entail stopping ALL unprotected sex (more government in our bedrooms?) and to end the reuse of dirty needles for IV drug use. 

What are the HIV demographics? 
Black America remains at the epicenter of the domestic HIV epidemic. Blacks represent only 13 percent of the nation's population but account for 44 percent of all new HIV infections, according (pdf) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 1.2 million people live with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. -- including approximately 545,000 who are Black.

Asian Carp
John Goss
Overseeing federal efforts to halt the invasive and destructive Asian Carp, an $80 million (minimum) effort, to include the possibility of permanently shutting down the Chicago waterway system which links Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River.
BA Public Affairs; MA Economics
Indiana Council Environmental Quality, 

Ron Bloom
Working closely with the National Economic Council, Bloom will provide leadership on policy development and strategic planning for the President’s agenda to revitalize the manufacturing sector.  
 Habonim — “a progressive Labor Zionist youth movement that emphasizes cultural Judaism, socialism and social justice.”
In 1996 Bloom joined the United Steel Workers (USW) union as a special assistant to the president. At that time, the USW president was George Becker, a co-founder of the Campaign for America’s Future. Bloom retained his position as special assistant when Becker was replaced by Leo Gerard (who today serves as a board member of the Apollo Alliance) in 2001. Both Becker and Gerard have close ties to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

A socialist teaching business to People's Workers Unions.

Auto Recovery
Edward Montgomery 
Oversees the automobile industry for Obama, was selected and appointed by Obama to carry Obama's plans. What has happened in this vein?
Both the assembly and parts sectors display declining employment, with assembly recording a 8% loss since 1990, and an even more dramatic 14% since 2000, and the parts industry losing 17% of total employment since 2000. Parts in particular are likely to be affected by increased offshore production, as US imports have increased 309% to $92.2 billion dollars.
This increase in foreign investment, however, has not been enough to negate the decline in production by domestic firms, leading to ever-increasing rates of unemployment among auto workers. Even more cause for concern is the fact that jobs with foreign-owned firms are more likely to be non-union, thereby leading to probable decreases in benefits and possibly wages for American auto workers. 
His financial contributions to Obama's campaign include $52,200.

Bank Bailout 
Herbert Allison (Senate Confirmed)
Quite simply put, Allison has both contributed money to Obama's campaign and testified to Congress that the $23 billion in tax dollars spent on "green energy" firms was going to be a solid and positive investment.

Alan Bersin
former failed superintendent of San Diego . Ultra Liberal friend of Hilary Clinton. Served as Border Czar under Janet Reno – to keep borders open to illegals
Served as border czar under Clinton-Reno and now again under Obama-Napolitano 
Customs and Border Patrol commissioner during Eric Holder's Operation Gunrunner
Also was at the top for the region when and where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered 15 miles inside the United States by a heavily armed Mexican gang.

The 45 Steps of Communism

For those unacquainted with Communism’s 45 Steps, I strongly advise that you study them. Many have already been accomplished. America has just elected a president who has more in common with communism than he does with America. If you love this country, fight to make sure Obama and his bots do not fulfill these steps. It is a fight too many of us are too late engaging in, but it ain’t over yet.

Congressional Record
Appendix, pp. A34-A35
January 10, 1963

Thursday, January 10, 1963

Mr. HERLONG. Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Nordman of De Land, Fla., is an ardent and articulate opponent of communism, and until recently published the De Land Courier, which she dedicated to the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of communism in America.
At Mrs. Nordman’s request, I include in the RECORD, under unanimous consent, the following “Current Communist Goals,” which she identifies as an excerpt from “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen:
1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.
9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)
12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.
21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].
39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use ["]united force["] to solve economic, political or social problems.
43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.

Winston Churchill -- Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

What We Pay Them To Kill Us

Bottom Line Up Front: In 2008 the countries that would be part of the Arab Spring received $1.9 billion dollars in U.S. financial aid, Saudi Arabia was among them was and is an OPEC top country. The Arab Spring states in 2010, including Saudi Arabian-U.S. oil revenues, received from U.S. tax payers $2.5 trillion. A 76% increase in U.S. monies and this week Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Islamic clerics said Muslims world wide should celebrate the damage brought by Hurricane Sandy.

Last year I took a look at the Middle eastern states, talked about their hate for the West, and looked at how much U.S. tax dollars the Middle East was getting. This year I looked specifically at the Arab Spring states. Of the 14 countries participating in the revolution 12 are recipients of U.S. financial aid. One of those recipients, Saudi Arabia, has long been OPEC's leading earner in oil revenue, remains on the recipient list for aid. The following chart is a summary of information from U.S. federal reports.

2010                   Aid                      Oil Revenue
Saudi Arabia    $1.8 trn              $195 bln
Sudan                                                $100 bln
Mauritania        $495.3 mln  
Morocco            $135.1 bln
Jordan               $359.3 bln
Lebanon.           $43.8 bln
Yemen                $545.7 bln
Egypt                 $98.8 bln

That is $1.8 trillion dollars paid to these countries. They all have something else in common, though, that comes back to Saudi leadership and their distribution of money. That is multinational terrorism.

First, Saudi Arabia provides funding and support to 70% of the Sunni terrorist groups globally, the top of that list is all-Qaeda. 

Second, there is a group within AQ that is considered to be more extreme than AQ. This group is called Takfir wa Hijra. This sect believes that, basically, the world must go back to the lifestyle and developmental levels at the time if Mohammed. Some of the more notable members of this sect include 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, Aiman al-Zawahiri, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Third, there are a number of Islamic Jihad Groups throughout the region, simply insert the country of operation and you have the group. Libyan Islamic Jihad, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and so on. It feels franchised to me. 

That is the return on our investment in the world. We are funding, with American tax dollars, international terrorism. There are 535 congressmen and senators, start calling them until the tax dollars going to terrorists is paying off the American deficit

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Muslim Clerics Declare Sandy A Just Punishment For America

BLUF: Leading Saudi Arabian and Egyptian clerics are calling Hurricane Sandy a just soldier (one of allah's weakest) taking vengeance against America.

Saudi clerics. the Saudi prince, and Egypt have no respect or positive regard for our nation, none whatsoever. The US has given grants and funds to Egypt for decades. In 2009 the United States gave Egypt $3.5 billion dollars in grants and economic & military aid, according to US Census Bureau information. These monies from American tax payers when added to the money earned from the Suez Canal totals $8.2 billion dollars yearly revenue. We provide political support and billions in financial aid and they kick us while we are down. Typical, really, for the Middle East at large.

What about Saudi Arabia? Saudis must surely appreciate being the beneficiary of the largest transfer of wealth in world history. According to the Energy Information Agency ( in 2010 the U.S. imported approximately 1.2 billion barrels of oil which, at today's rates $84.62, is $203 billion dollars in two years. 

When a natural disaster strikes any one of the 190 countries in the world, America cries with those victims. What do the leading Islamic voices in these two countries do when America gets hit? The majority of the religious elites called Hurricane Sandy revenge from Allah against America.

The Arabian and Egyptian  clerics directly published on this include Saudi Clerics Nassir al-Omar, Sheikh Salan al-Odeh, Sheikh abd al-Aziz bin 'Abdallah aal al-Sheikh, Egyptian Cleric Al-Azhar Sheikh Salam abd al-Al Galil, and UK native Anjem Choudray (one group of his was banned  in England) have all spoken about the damage to the East Coast.

Al-Omar issued a fatwa to celebrate the death and destruction along the East Coast. He referred to America as "the spearhead of evil then asks why not celebrate? We are called arrogant and tyrannical and all Muslims globally should celebrate Hurricane Sandy's swath of death and destruction.

Choudray chimed in that hurricanes are among the least of allah's army and that America deserves them.

Aal al-Sheikh, the Saudi Arabian Mudti, was concerned only for the Muslims who were in the path of Sandy. He said that to celebrate the destruction and to "curse them is improper" as there were muslims in the areas hit. Real deep concern, right folks?

Galil was concerned about the image that Muslims would earn if seen celebrating. He is telling the muslim community that it is perfectly fine to dance, sing, and rejoice privately, just do not do it in the streets where you will be seen.

Al-Odeh was even less obvious saying that America is, as Muhammad said, idolaters in Mecca "may their sons become muslim.

These and other public statements should be shown all over American news. Our policy makers should penalize those countries. Pull our aid, get England to stop arms sales to these and other anti-West states (read as our enemies). If they rejoice at our pain then they are clearly not friends. Geo-Politically, not being friends in this manner equates to enemies. We have an obligation to not pay them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Clinton-Rebels VS Obama-Iran

BLUF: Hillary Clinton encourages Saudi backed rebels in Syria. She shows them more respect than she has ever shown to US military and veterans. Obama continues to provide tacit support to Iran by not calling them out over their supporting Assad.

Here we have American Secretary of State Clinton "directing" rebel groups in Syria. Or has she, as some reports state, suggested a different tack? Either way Clinton has put American suggestion out there publicly for the rebels, who are not just anti-Assad but anti-Iran. This would get them more support from, among others, Saudi Arabia. Obama, conversely, has shown by not acting that he supports Iranian ends in the region. Those of you who have read my blog have seen this illustrated already.

Unfortunately for US policy and the rebel groups, a house divided cannot stand.  I say this as Assad and Obama have shown that they support Iranian goals. Now Clinton is showing support for Saudi goals. These two MUST be trying to start a regional war there.

"There has to be a representation of those who are in the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom."

It's too bad Hillary does not feel the same way about veterans in America. We have all seen the authorized lists of the potential home-grown terrorists that include US Veterans. 

Meanwhile, Russia and China both oppose any effort from the West. The two countries continue to work against the US in blocking resolutions, undermining Western policies, and isolating our few allies.

Clinton directs rebel groups in Syria

Syrian rebels open talks in Doha as bombing hits Damascus
Top news: Syrian rebel groups began negotiations in Doha over forming a united political front. The talks come shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that the Syrian National Council has outlived its usefulness and should be integrated into a larger umbrella opposition group which would allow greater coordination between fighters in Syria, exile groups, and the opposition's foreign backers.

The SNC, which has been frequently consumed by infighting over the course of the campaign against Bashar al-Assad's government, is attempting to reform itself to become more exclusive in order to head off a challenge from the new U.S.-backed coalition, the Syrian National Initiative. Expectations that the meeting will end in a successful resolution are low.

Meanwhile, back in Syria, a massive bombing hit near an Army compound in Damascus. Opposition activists say the bombing was likely the work of the Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigade, an Islamist militant group. Rebels also captured an oil field in Eastern Syria on Sunday.

ZAGREB (Reuters) - The United States called on Wednesday for an overhaul of Syria's opposition leadership, saying it was time to move beyond the Syrian National Council and bring in those "in the front lines fighting and dying".

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, signaling a more active stance by Washington in attempts to form a credible political opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said a meeting next week in Qatar would be an opportunity to broaden the coalition against him.

"This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but who, in many instances, have not been inside Syria for 20, 30, 40 years," she said during a visit to Croatia.

"There has to be a representation of those who are in the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom."

Clinton's comments represented a clear break with the Syrian National Council (SNC), a largely foreign-based group which has been among the most vocal proponents of international intervention in the Syrian conflict.

U.S. officials have privately expressed frustration with the SNC's inability to come together with a coherent plan and with its lack of traction with the disparate internal groups which have waged the 19-month uprising against Assad's government.

Senior members of the SNC, Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other rebel groups ended a meeting in Turkey on Wednesday and pledged to unite behind a transitional government in coming months.

"It's been our divisions that have allowed the Assad forces to reach this point," Ammar al-Wawi, a rebel commander, told Reuters after the talks outside Istanbul.

"We are united on toppling Assad. Everyone, including all the rebels, will gather under the transitional government."

Mohammad Al-Haj Ali, a senior Syrian military defector, told a news conference after the meeting: "We are still facing some difficulties between the politicians and different opposition groups and the leaders of the Free Syrian Army on the ground."

Clinton said it was important that the next rulers of Syria were both inclusive and committed to rejecting extremism.

"There needs to be an opposition that can speak to every segment and every geographic part of Syria. And we also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution," she said.

Syria's revolt has killed an estimated 32,000. A bomb near a Shi'ite shrine in a suburb of Damascus killed at least six more people on Wednesday, state media and opposition activists said.


The meeting next week in Qatar's capital Doha represents a chance to forge a new leadership, Clinton said, adding the United States had helped to "smuggle out" representatives of internal Syrian opposition groups to a meeting in New York last month to argue their case for inclusion.

"We have recommended names and organizations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure," she told a news conference.

"We've made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice which must be heard."

The United States and its allies have struggled for months to craft a credible opposition coalition.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has said it is not providing arms to internal opponents of Assad and is limiting its aid to non-lethal humanitarian assistance.

It concedes, however, that some of its allies are providing lethal assistance - a fact that Assad's chief backer Russia says shows western powers are intent on determining Syria's future.

Russia and China have blocked three U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at increasing pressure on the Assad government, leading the United States and its allies to say they could move beyond U.N. structures for their next steps.

Clinton said she regretted but was not surprised by the failure of the latest attempted ceasefire, called by international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi last Friday. Each side blamed the other for breaking the truce.

"The Assad regime did not suspend its use of advanced weaponry against the Syrian people for even one day," she said.

"While we urge Special Envoy Brahimi to do whatever he can in Moscow and Beijing to convince them to change course and support a stronger U.N. action we cannot and will not wait for that."

Clinton said the United States would continue to work with partners to increase sanctions on the Assad government and provide humanitarian assistance to those hit by the conflict.

Russia, Syrian opposition slam US calls for new leadership against Assad
By Julian Pecquet  - 11/02/12 11:59 AM ET
Russia joined Syria's main exiled opposition group on Friday in accusing the Obama administration of picking and choosing the people it wants to run Syria if President Bashar Assad falls.

The comments come after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said the United States will propose its own list of individuals and organizations as part of a multinational conference in Doha, Qatar, next week aimed at trying to create a unified rebel front. Clinton said the main exiled opposition group, the Paris-based Syrian National Council, was made up of people who haven't been in the country in decades and does not represent the various groups currently fighting on the front lines against Assad.

The Syrian National Council denounced Clinton's statement on Friday, the Agence France-Presse wire service reported.
“Any discussions aimed at passing over the Syrian National Council or at creating new bodies to replace it,” the group said in a statement, “are an attempt to undermine the Syrian revolution by sowing the seeds of division.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also lambasted the United States, the AFP reported, saying Clinton's comments violated an agreement reached with Russia and others over the summer to support a transition government approved by the Syrian people. 

“We heard direct orders [from the United States] about what the Syrian opposition should do to form a 'government in exile,' and about who should join such a government – up to specific people," the Russian ministry's statement said. “They are bluntly making clear that they see the Syria conflict being settled exclusively on their terms.”

The United States is expected to back a new coalition, called the Syrian National Initiative, during the meeting in Doha. The initiative is being pushed by Syrian dissident Riad Seif, a former member of parliament and businessman who has put forward a plan for a new leadership council.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Anti American UN Vote Observers

BLUF: The voter observation team that had been requested by the ACLU, NAACP, and the group called Leadership on Civil and Human Rights, is supervised by at least three anti-American Soviet puppets. These three are Bolat Berselayev, Elchin Musayev, and Janez Lucarcic.

While Clinton and Obama want to support the anti-Assad rebels in Syria, the UN is starting to look at those rebels for war crimes. These crimes include the video taped beating and execution of Assad forces after they had surrendered. Executing surrendered prisoners and watching the voting process in America where the concept of voting freely in a democratic-republic has been successfully proven for more than 200 years. It begs the question who are the vote observers?

The leading names on this list are pro-Soviet, anti-American hard liners.

Khazakhstan, a recently added member to the UNSC (, is represented by Bolat Berselayev. Kazakhstan is part of the anti-West voting bloc at the UNSC. The last elections held in Kazakhstan were reminiscent of other KGB styled elections. It resulted in a 95% vote for the brutal, corrupt, lifelong Communist Party member Nursultan Nazarbayev. No doubt that Borislav was selected for his experience in voter fraud for Soviet sympathizers.

Azerbaijani representative, Elchin Musayev, is another Soviet approved appointee in this cesspool of "observers". The Azerbaijani president, Ilham Alitev, was raised by a KGB officer, Hatdar Alieyev. Alieyev served under Joseph Stalin. It is no leap to conclude that the electoral process, as observed in Azerbaijan, was as pure as the driven slush in Chicago. The prodigal son of the KGB has, undeniably, given his approval to Musayev being part of this.

The third nefarious character is Janev Lenarcic. Lenarcic also an ardent anti-American politician. He is the director of the UN affiliated group Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Europe, a social welfare state from ocean to sea to sea, is the model Lucarcic wants to enforce here. Lucarcic is also pro- muslim. He supports the same groups that have declared war on the United States. 

This group of "observers" support the same entities that have declared war against the United States. This group follows the Communist Party Line. This group is setting the chess board for chaos and riots within the United States of America. They are doing so with the full knowledge of Obama, Biden, Clinton, and their advisory boards and czars.

For Reference and Further Reading

Friday, November 2, 2012

Foreign Pilicy Magazine: Brit In Plot To Sell Iran Missile Parts

British businessman pleads guilty to plot to sell missile parts to Iran

A retired British businessman and millionaire Christopher Tappin has pleaded guilty in a Texas court to charges of attempting to sell batteries to Iran for surface to air missiles. He admitted to aiding and abetting two business associates in attempting to sell "zinc/silver oxide Reserve Batteries" to Iran, which is used in Hawk Air Defense Missiles, defying export regulations. A U.S. federal indictment was filed in 2007 after a sting operation. Tappin was extradited from Britain in February. The case has brought extradition arrangements under scrutiny from opponents who claim harsh sentences force suspects to reach plea deals instead of standing trial. Tappin isexpected to be sentenced on January 9, and will likely be sentenced to 33 months. Prosecutors said they would not oppose him serving his sentence in Britain. Had he not pleaded guilty, he could have faced up to 35 years in jail.

Chaos and Oppression Reign After The Arab Spring

BLUF: Looking across the Arab Spring nations anyone can see that these nations have leaped into chaos and more war. Terrorist groups and terror affiliated groups are taking power across North Africa. As a result the atmospherics for regional security has just plummeted. The United States must carefully evaluate the terrain, the people, and all of the related risks in the region. What have Clinton and Obama bought for the American people and the next president?
A woman in Tunis sculpted three busts to display in an art show in Tunis. Her art was attacked, she fled with two of her pieces. She is being investigated.
Islamist extremists have since posted photos of Jelassi and several other Tunisian artists on their websites, calling for their death. Then the courts waded into the controversy. Today, she is under investigation for "disturbing public order and morals." If found guilty, she could face prison.

Jelassi's is not an isolated case. Increasingly, critics say, free expression -- a cornerstone of Tunisia's 2011 revolution that kicked off the Arab Spring -- is now under attack. A string of incidents have fueled an intense debate about the role of religion, artistic expression and women's rights in this once staunchly secular North African country.
Not surprisingly, hard-liners are taking over in Tunisia after the Arab Spring led quickly to the fall of what meager freedoms the people in those affected nations had. Unlike the American Revolution, religion had not been discussed in these revolts. Now it has to be dealt with by so many millions more as Salafist jihadists are now running the political regimes. This Spring touted as so good by Obama has turned into Terrorist States, not simply terrorist supporting states.
Across the Middle East being anything but muslim has been growing increasingly difficult in the years prior to the Spring. Coptic Christians in Egypt, Hindus in Pakistan, it seems that everywhere Christians are on the defense.
[I]n an important essay Citizens or Martyrs? The Uncertain Fate of Christians in the Arab Spring, RFP scholar Dan Philpott investigates the recent and dramatic decline in minority Christians populations throughout the Middle East and encourages Christians around the world to speak out in favor of religious liberty for all.
In my opinion, Christians need to begin using their voices at home, in their own communities. Across the Middle East people are being killed for not being muslim enough or of the wrong sect of islam. It reminds me of the Lilliputians’s over which end to open the egg. Tunisia’s Rachid Gannouchi was touted as a moderate voice and a moderate muslim. Take a look at Tunisia now. Bloggers and news writers are being arrested for voicing opinions that are contrary to the State. It is very clear that, not just in Tunisia, but throughout the Middle East there is a concerted effort to remove other religions; as it is written within the Koran and the hadith. The US was founded on the acceptance that one could believe as one chose to, today, in the Arabian Fall, people are required to conform or die. It sounds too much like Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Oh, wait, Hitler conferred with a mufti often. The jackboots are deafening in the streets now.
The State Department has acknowledged this in its annual survey.
The annual survey of religious liberties around the world also warns against deteriorating religious freedom in China and Iran, the increased use of anti-blasphemy laws to restrict the rights of religious minorities and a rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe
"In times of transition, the situation of religious minorities in these societies comes to the forefront," says the State Department's first report since the Arab Spring uprisings. "Some members of society who have long been oppressed seek greater freedom and respect for their rights while others fear change. Those differing aspirations can exacerbate existing tension."

While the report notes Egypt's interim military leaders had made gestures towards greater inclusiveness, it points to an uptick in sectarian tensions and violence in Egypt, particularly against Coptic Christians.
Hillary knows it, but she will not say, much less do anything against it. The Spring States received, according to CNN, $17,174,900(yes, 17 BILLION) US Tax dollars in 2011. Some of that went directly to Libya, a nation that had its assets frozen by the US and was not to be getting aid of any sort from the US. Clinton and Obama bought the chaos and oppression of the new Middle East.
There were many analysts, me included, who were afraid that the outcome would be like we saw in Iran after the killing of the Shah. Look at Iran now. Our fears of Iran getting outside of its immediate area have just been realized through the Arabian Fall. Libya had nuclear facilities. I do not think that they would be so difficult to rebuild with Iranian, Pakistani, and North Korean input. All this chaos draws muslim extremists like flies to … a light. Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia are now governed by known terrorist groups.
The only magnet more alluring to Islamic extremists than weak central governments and security forces is outright conflict and organized violence, especially conflicts that break down along the region’s ethnic fault lines, whether between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or Muslims and religious minorities. For instance, unrest coupled with the sectarian divide in Syria, between Sunni Muslims and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite clan that runs the country, has given al-Qaida and other groups that share its ideology a “golden opportunity,”according to Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. The Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, suspected of links to al-Qaida, is gaining prominence as it brings more-experienced foreign fighters to the front lines, making it “far more active in recent months and far more consequential," Hoffman said.
Yes, the threat to Western cultures has, indeed, gone from thousands to millions. The West continues to pay for it. Not just in governmental, financial, and military iad but also through continuing to purchase oil from these regimes.
The memory of civil war and its substantial oil revenues, which the regime has spread around as handouts to critical segments of society, has bought a reprieve for the military-backed Algerian government. But this is likely to be temporary and Algeria may be in a "calm before the storm" phase.

The Persian Gulf
American has a moral obligation to its own people and to those nations which uphold and defend the basic inalienable rights to open up its own oil reserves and update refineries so as to stem the enabling flow of cash to those states and bodies which stand in direct opposition to what we hold true.
 In spite of the absolutely horrid results, which even the State Department has acknowledge, the US Tax Payer is facing larger amounts of our money goin to the East. Makes me wonder if we should also add Clinton and Obama to the State Department's list of terrorism supporting entities?(
Tunisians Worry About Loss Of Freedoms Gained Under The Arab Spring
TUNIS, Tunisia (RNS) Three women got Nadia Jelassi into trouble.
Veiled and surrounded by stones, the busts of three women were attacked by Salafists last June for being religiously offensive. The Tunis-area exhibition that displayed them was hastily shuttered.
"I wanted people to interpret my art for themselves," Jelassi said at her studio, where sunlight bathed two of the figures she managed to salvage. "But the most obvious interpretation is of lapidation."
Islamist extremists have since posted photos of Jelassi and several other Tunisian artists on their websites, calling for their death. Then the courts waded into the controversy. Today, she is under investigation for "disturbing public order and morals." If found guilty, she could face prison.
Jelassi's is not an isolated case. Increasingly, critics say, free expression -- a cornerstone of Tunisia's 2011 revolution that kicked off the Arab Spring -- is now under attack. A string of incidents have fueled an intense debate about the role of religion, artistic expression and women's rights in this once staunchly secular North African country.
"The question of what is religiously sacred was never discussed during the revolution," Jelassi said. "People were calling for liberty, dignity, not sacredness."
The matter of "sacredness" is being championed by hard-line Islamists, who are taking their message to the streets. Like elsewhere in the Muslim world, Tunisia was rocked recently by protests over an amateur U.S. movie that mocked Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
Religious hard-liners have also attacked other films and plays here, along with a tourist hotel serving alcohol.
"Certain groups and political parties are trying to take away what we fought for," said Mokhtar Trifi, a senior member of the Tunisian League for Human Rights. "Especially jihadist Salafists movements. They want to impose a form of rigorous Islam that our society has never experienced."
Equally worrying, rights advocates and artists say, is the reaction by the government.
In May, the owner of Tunisia's private Nessma TV channel was fined for broadcasting a movie that ostensibly offended Islam; earlier in the year two bloggers received prison sentences on the same grounds. The courts have also imposed fines for drinking in public and other behavior considered morally lax.
Critics complain the government does little to rein in religious extremists. And more broadly, they fear the ruling Islamist Ennahda party will capitalize on the religious divisions -- and elections expected next year -- to pass a law to criminalize blasphemy.
"They want to show they're the defenders of Islam, but I say it's for electoral gains," Trifi said. "The aim is to limit liberties in the name of what is'sacred.' But nobody can define this in a way that is precise and clear."
Ennahda's leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, staunchly denies the ruling party is trying to curb free expression, suggesting that political opponents have misinterpreted the draft legislation.
"We are for free expression and creativity -- but also respect of others' beliefs within society," he said in a recent interview.
"There are thousands of artistic works critical of Islam that aren't attacked because they are by serious academics," Ghannouchi added. By contrast, he said, works by Jelassi and other artists at the June exhibition amounted to "a deliberate provocation."
For some in this fledgling democracy, Ghannouchi's position has struck a chord. Tunisia's last two strongman leaders -- who together ruled the country for more than half a century -- cracked down on human rights, even as they sealed strong ties with the West.
They banned Ennahda's brand of moderate political Islam, jailing many party members and sending others into exile. Under the old regime, devout Tunisians, like university student Hajer Ben Jemaa, faced daily harassment for adopting religiously conservative dress.
"Ennahda has helped give us liberty," Ben Jemaa said, touching her pink hijab as she strolled down Tunis' tree-lined Habib Bourguiba Avenue. "Today, I am free to wear this hijab. I don't have problems with the police or at school."
But critics claim Islamists are pressing many other women to conform to their views. On the streets of the capital, hijabs and the face-covering niqab are more common than just a year ago.
"I have no figures, I have no scientific studies," said Khadija Cherif, Tunis-based secretary-general of the International Federation of Human Rights. "But the assessment I make daily is that the vast majority of women are veiling because of pressure from their family or neighborhood or political manipulation."
In a separate campaign, rights advocates are pushing to scrap a clause in Tunisia's draft constitution that describes women as "complementary" but not equal to men. Jelassi views the two pieces of draft legislation, on blasphemy and on women's rights, as twin fronts in the same battle.
"There's a deliberate effort to roll back our gains," Jelassi said. "It's very worrying."
"I'm obliged to become politically active and defend free expression. If not, what we have achieved from the revolution will disappear."


Religious Freedom in the Wake of the Arab Spring
Despite the solidarity Egyptians displayed in the Tahrir Square protests that sparked the Arab Spring, subsequent months have witnessed a dangerous increase in violence against religious minorities, especially the Coptic Christian community. As Egypt, Tunisia, and now Libya seek to construct new democratic governments, their respective approaches to religion-state issues will be critical to their success. Can these and other democratic aspirants in the region hope for stability without granting religious freedom to all their citizens? Or is the notion of religious freedom a Western concept, inapplicable to countries with different histories and cultures?
The Religious Freedom Project invites you to explore these and other related questions through the following resources. First, in an important essay Citizens or Martyrs? The Uncertain Fate of Christians in the Arab Spring, RFP scholar Dan Philpott investigates the recent and dramatic decline in minority Christians populations throughout the Middle East and encourages Christians around the world to speak out in favor of religious liberty for all.

Second, the RFP launched its first public symposium at Georgetown University on Thursday, November 17, 2011, What's So Special about Religious Freedom? At the center of the symposium was a keynote lunch-time debate between Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman and Stanford Law professor Michael McConnell. How the religion-state relationship is grounded and understood will have profound consequences for the democratic development of Egypt as it did for the history of the United States.

Finally, to further reflect on the developing situation in the countries of the Arab Spring, RFP scholars have authored essays that probe the possible relationships between religious freedom and a peaceful, democratic society.


State Department warns of poor religious freedoms in Egypt, China, Europe
By Elise Labott
Efforts to transition from dictatorship to democracy after the Arab Spring have endangered religious minorities, the State Department says in its annual report of religious freedom.
The annual survey of religious liberties around the world also warns against deteriorating religious freedom in China and Iran, the increased use of anti-blasphemy laws to restrict the rights of religious minorities and a rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe
"In times of transition, the situation of religious minorities in these societies comes to the forefront," says the State Department's first report since the Arab Spring uprisings. "Some members of society who have long been oppressed seek greater freedom and respect for their rights while others fear change. Those differing aspirations can exacerbate existing tension."
While the report notes Egypt's interim military leaders had made gestures towards greater inclusiveness, it points to an uptick in sectarian tensions and violence in Egypt, particularly against Coptic Christians.

It denounces the interim Egyptian government's "failure to curb rising violence against Coptic Christians and its involvement in violent attacks," including one instance in which Egyptian security forces attacked demonstrators, killing 25 people injuring 350, most of whom were Coptic Christians.

"On other occasions, through inaction, the government failed to prevent violence against Christians or stop the destruction of churches and religious minority-owned property," the report says. "Authorities also failed to investigate effectively and prosecute crimes against Christians."
In a speech extolling the virtues of protecting religious freedom, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the country's new president, Mohamed Morsy, to make good on his promises to respect the rights of all Egyptians. The secretary visited Egypt earlier this month, meeting with Morsy as well as with Christian leaders worried about life under Egypt's new Islamic leadership.
"I am concerned that respect for religious freedom is quite tenuous" in Egypt, Clinton said. "I don't know that this is going to be quickly resolved."
Clinton warned an inconsistent effort by the government to investigate the perpetrators of sectarian violence sends a dangerous message that there are no consequences for such crimes.
"That's the kind of recipe that can quickly get out of control ... and undermine the new democracy," Clinton said.
In an address to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Clinton said religious freedom is "not just about religion," but also "about the right of people to think what they want, and say what they think, and come together in fellowship, without the state looking over their shoulder.
"These rights give our lives meaning and dignity, whatever religion we belong to - or if we belong to no religion at all," Clinton said. "Like all human rights, they are our birthright. They not granted to us by any government. Rather, it is the responsibility of governments to protect them."
In its report, the State Department once again criticizes Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, North Korea and Iran as chronic violators of particular concern. The report says North Korea permitted no religious freedom at all and warns that religious freedom in Iran "deteriorated further from an already egregious situation." It cites the restoration of 20-year sentences in Iran for seven Bahais charged with spying for and collaborating with Israel as well as the imprisonment of Yousof Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy
Blasphemy and religious defamation laws are also highlighted in the report, which cites Pakistan for issuing death sentences for blasphemy and Afghan courts for interpreting Islamic law to punish non-Muslims for exercising their faith.
In China, the report says, there was "a marked deterioration during 2011 in the government's respect for and protection of religious freedom," citing greater restrictions on religious practice, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.
"Official interference in the practice of these religious traditions exacerbated grievances and contributed to at least 12 self-immolations by Tibetans in 2011," the report says. It also criticizes China's "severe" repression of Muslims in the far western region of Xinjiang.
Myanmar's reformist government took steps to overcome intense religious oppression, easing restrictions on church construction and allowing registered groups to worship, but the report says authorities continued monitoring religious activities.
The report also warns of alarming trends in Europe, where nations undergoing major demographic changes are witnessing "growing xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and intolerance toward people considered 'the other.'"
It points to a "rising number of European countries, including Belgium and France, whose laws restricting dress adversely affected Muslims and others," referring to bans on veils worn by Mulish women.
It also warns of a global rise in anti-Semitism, citing the desecration of Jewish synagogues in France and Ukraine, anti-Semitic statements in Venezuela and the Netherlands, and the rise of an anti-Semitic party in Hungary.
Government efforts against "violent extremists" also come under scrutiny. The report criticizes Russia, Iraq and Nigeria for cracking down on peaceful religious practice under the guise of fighting terrorism.
In Bahrain, where government forces crushed mass protests calling for political reform, the report says there was "deterioration in the respect for and protection of religious freedom, including mass arrests and detentions of members of the Shia community and the destruction of Shia religious sites and gathering places."
The government blamed the uprising on Shia extremists.
The report cites "documented cases of arbitrary arrest, excessive use of force, and detainee torture and mistreatment" while a state of "national safety law" was implemented by royal decree under constitutional authority. It adds that government demolished a number of Shia religious sites and structures during the year.
The report finds some actions to commend as well. Turkey issued a decree facilitating the return of property confiscated from religious groups in the past. In Libya, the Supreme Court overturned a law that criminalized insults against Islam, and the new government chose not to enforce some old laws that limit religious freedom, the report says
Post-Arab Spring States: Magnets for Extremism

When the Arab awakening swept through the Middle East last year, with waves of democratic protesters swallowing tyrants in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, no one could confidently predict what kind of political order would emerge from the ruins. Certainly the stability of the old order of autocracies was shattered, hopefully along with their characteristic corruption and stagnation. In the long term, there is still reason to hope for a democratic transformation similar to the one that eventually emerged in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War.

The danger that most concerned many U.S. policy analysts at the time, however, was a repeat of the Iranian revolution of 1979, which was hijacked by Islamic theocrats. The anti-American protests that targeted U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East last week suggest that at least in the near term, the greater peril may come from the model of Lebanon: a weak democracy with inadequate institutions and security forces that are unable or unwilling to confront the Islamic extremists in their midst. In the case of Lebanese Hezbollah, the extremists exploited that weakness to form a shadow state that has become too powerful to uproot.

Of course, the common thread that runs through the anti-American protests in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen is an anti-Islamic film made in California that went viral on the Internet. Events of the Arab Spring have also driven home the point that each of these countries is distinct, with different cultures and ethnic tapestries.

Yet there are similarities that have emerged in the past year in the fledgling democracies of the Arab Spring. In Libya, for instance, the newly-elected government has been unable to enforce its authority over as many as 200 private, well-armed militias. These bands, which have no shortage of weapons looted from Muammar el-Qaddafi’s arsenals, range from ordinary Libyans to virulently anti-Western Salafists to hard-core supporters of al-Qaida (such as the shadowy Islamic extremist group Ansar al-Sharia, which some experts suspect in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans).

“This [attack] didn’t come out of the blue,” said Barak Barfi, a research fellow at the New America Foundation who spent six months in Libya during the revolution. There were earlier attacks in the country this summer, he noted, including a rocket-propelled grenade fired at the British ambassador’s convoy and a bomb attack at the gates of the U.S. consulate. If Libya doesn’t move to integrate its militias and create national security services that can deal with these fomenting threats, Barfi said in a phone call from Turkey, “there are going to be long-term problems with these Islamist groups because they’re going to be able to grow, create an infrastructure, draft more people. Then we’re not going to be looking at a couple hundred people ... but thousands.”

While the assault on the American Embassy in Cairo appears to have been spontaneous in reaction to the anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube, the attacks there also highlight the security void that has developed since last year’s revolution. Egypt’s security services, deeply unpopular after violently suppressing protesters, have been largely marginalized—and jihadists have responded by ramping up their presence in the Sinai and carrying out attacks like last August’s deadly cross-border assault on southern Israel.

The U.S. Embassy was also overrun in Yemen, another Arab Spring country and home to al-Qaida’s most active branch. Because security forces have been focused on unrest in the capital for much of the past year, al-Qaida has been able to seize significant territory in the south. Until the new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, directed a successful offensive there, militants actually governed several major cities. Since the government’s offensive, the group is suspected of a string of attacks, including a recent assassination attempt that nearly killed the country’s defense minister in his convoy.

The only magnet more alluring to Islamic extremists than weak central governments and security forces is outright conflict and organized violence, especially conflicts that break down along the region’s ethnic fault lines, whether between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or Muslims and religious minorities. For instance, unrest coupled with the sectarian divide in Syria, between Sunni Muslims and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite clan that runs the country, has given al-Qaida and other groups that share its ideology a “golden opportunity,”according to Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. The Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, suspected of links to al-Qaida, is gaining prominence as it brings more-experienced foreign fighters to the front lines, making it “far more active in recent months and far more consequential," Hoffman said.

The fight against Assad affords jihadists a rallying point against what they consider an Alawite infidel, according to a recent op-edby Ed Husain, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “In the event of Assad’s falling, al-Qaeda will probably gain de facto control of parts of Syria to serve as a new strategic base for jihadis in the Middle East, or at least enjoy tribal protection in the broader regions with Iraq and Jordan,”Husain wrote in National Review. “A new government in Syria not only will be indebted to these fighters, but also will be in need of their cooperation to minimize the potential of militias fighting each other.”

Of course, the first Arab tyranny to recently attempt the transition to democracy is Iraq, where political paralysis in the Shiite-led government has breathed new life into Sunni Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has launched a string of devastating bombings this year responsible for hundreds of Iraqi deaths. As if any more evidence was needed, Iraq’s experience suggests that the transition to democracy in the Arab world will continue to be contested violently by Islamic extremists who sense opportunity in weakness.
Assessing the Arab Spring in its second year
The "Arab Spring" is now over one year old. In much of the popular analysis over the past year the term "Arab Spring" has become the defining characteristic of the "new" Middle East emerging from decades of authoritarian and repressive rule. However, one should be cautious about inflating the importance of the democratic uprisings in several Arab countries in shaping the future contours of the Middle East. This caution applies especially to exaggerating both the prospects of democracy --particularly the unhindered linear transition to representative rule -- in the Arab world and the role of major Arab powers in determining political outcomes in the Middle East in the short and medium-term future.
The major reason for this caution is the fact that the transition to democracy in the Arab world is very much a work in progress that, after initial successes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, seems to have ground to a halt. The counter-revolution has succeed in Bahrain thanks to the military might of next door Saudi Arabia, which is firmly opposed to any political opening in its backyard and is not averse to sending in its storm troopers to crush democratic stirrings in the Arab sheikhdoms and emirates of the Persian Gulf. Furthermore, Syria has descended into civil war with Saudi Arabia, paradoxically, leading the "democratic" charge against the Assad regime.
As if to establish the fact that nothing in the Middle East is what it appears to be, Iran, which did not engineer but certainly supported the uprising in Bahrain, has stood solidly behind the authoritarian Assad regime in Syria. The geopolitical rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, that has dictated the actions of both countries toward democratic uprisings in the Arab world far more than normative concerns or ideological affinity, has for the moment contributed substantially to quashing the democratic aspirations of the Arab populations both in the Gulf and the Fertile Crescent. Even where the ancient regimes have been overthrown the success of the democratic movements cannot be taken for granted and the democratic wave is far from irreversible. Tunisia may still prove to be the exception to this rule, but both Egypt and Libya betray characteristics that make one "cautiously pessimistic" to put it in the mildest of terms. The overthrow of the Mubarak regime in Egypt has not led to a smooth transition to democratic rule. Despite the parliamentary elections and the plurality gained by the Muslim Brotherhood in these elections, the military brass is still well ensconced in power -- an outcome that was predicted by some observers of the Egyptian scene at the time of Mubarak's fall.
It is far from certain that the tussle between Egypt's elected representatives and the military will be resolved in favor of the former. It is more than likely that a compromise will be reached providing a transfer of power to civilian rule in some spheres while the military will continue to control the more important arenas of governance -- internal and external security, foreign policy -- and also preserve a great deal of its corporate interests. This will be akin to the situation today in Pakistan and to the condition that prevailed in Turkey not so long ago.
Libya and Syria: Disintegration and Civil War?
The situation in Libya is even more precarious than in Egypt with the very unity of the state in jeopardy. Unlike Egypt, which is a relatively homogeneous society, regional and tribal rivalries exacerbated by the chaos accompanying the fall of the Qaddafi regime threaten to tear Libya apart. The writ of what passes for the central government does not run too far and already voices have been raised in the eastern part of the country demanding autonomy, a possible code word for independence. The fact that foreign intervention played a critical role in regime change in Libya also detracts from the legitimacy of the successor government and makes it more susceptible to domestic challenges.
The lack of an overarching political formation with roots in all or most of the country a la the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt could easily turn into the Achilles heel of the Libyan polity. The Libyan Brotherhood, which launched its own Freedom and Justice Party in March 2012 modeled after its Egyptian counterpart, is but a pale shadow of the Egyptian Brotherhood. The saga of Libya's democratic transition has become entangled with issues of national unity and the very integrity of the state. The jury is still out as to whether the new political dispensation will take root in Libya and, even if it does, whether it would be able to sustain its democratic character as well as preserve the territorial integrity of the Libyan state.
Syria, it is becoming increasingly clear, is headed toward a long-drawn out civil war for four reasons. First, there is no sign of the Alawite-dominated military officer corps abandoning Assad's cause, which is their cause as well. Second, the opposition -- above all the Syrian National Council (SNC) -- is divided between different bickering groups. One of the underlying disagreements hobbling the work of the SNCis the divide between elements representing the Muslim Brotherhood and those opposed to it. Probably even more important is the divide between the internal and external elements of the Syrian opposition that prevents the emergence of a united front that could act as an alternative and successor to the Assad regime. Third, Syria has become an integral part of the regional cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which had already been accentuated by the Saudi intervention in Bahrain. As a consequence, it has become impossible to disentangle the Syrian conflict from broader regional balance of power issues, thus making the situation conducive for a continuing stalemate. Fourth, external powers - the United States and its NATO allies - for a variety of geostrategic reasons are unwilling to launch a military campaign such as the one they did against Qaddafi to bring down Assad. It is also doubtful, even if they did launch such a campaign, whether it would topple the regime and could end up causing larger civilian casualties and huge damage to the country's infrastructure without achieving its goal of regime change. Current efforts by Kofi Annan, the U.N. and Arab League envoy, to bring about a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict may be laudable but are unlikely to succeed -- especially given the Assad regime's view of the situation as an existential struggle.
The remaining North African front
After regime change in Tunisia, largely absent from this discussion because it remains the most optimistic case, Egypt, and Libya, the Arab states of North Africa, especially Algeria and Morocco, seem to be in a state of high alert. The Moroccan monarchy, adept at playing the game of electoral authoritarianism, has adopted a twin-pronged strategy. The first prong consists of accommodating the moderate Islamist party, the PJD, within the power structure by allowing it to emerge with a plurality in the elections of November 2011 and by appointing its head as the country's Prime Minister without diluting the reserve executive powers of the monarchy.
The second prong consists of making common cause with the Gulf monarchies led by Saudi Arabia, culminating in the GCC invitation to Morocco, as well as Jordan, to join the exclusive club of Arab monarchies (although neither of them qualifies geographically for this honor). Membership of the GCC must have appealed to the Moroccan king as a policy of reinsurance against popular revolt. The Saudi-led GCC intervention in Bahrain was above all intended to carry the message, which must have been pleasing to the ears of King Mohammed VI, that the organization is committed to, and capable of defending, the monarchical regimes of member states under threat from forces unleashed by the Arab Spring. While Morocco's geographic distance from Saudi Arabia considerably dilutes the effectiveness of this message, the prospect of economic aid from Gulf monarchies flush with petrodollars that can be used to buy off dissent adds to the attraction for Morocco of membership in the GCC.
Algeria had experienced a brutal civil war in the 1990s between the military-dominated regime and Islamist extremists frustrated by the army's decision to abort Algeria's electoral experiment when it became clear that the Islamist FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) would win a majority in parliament. The shadow of that war which left 150,000 people dead still hangs over the Algerian society and polity. According to one observer: "This episode has taught Algerians the dangers of contestation. The ‘black decade' remains an open wound within the society, preventing it from reproducing the next-door revolutionary model. In the collective mind, revolution involves considerable risks that the current generation of Algerians are (sic) not willing to take." This does not mean that Algeria is immune to the democratic contagion. The memory of civil war and its substantial oil revenues, which the regime has spread around as handouts to critical segments of society, has bought a reprieve for the military-backed Algerian government. But this is likely to be temporary and Algeria may be in a "calm before the storm" phase.
The Persian Gulf
The Arab states of the Gulf seem to fall in a category of their own because of their oil and gas wealth and rentier economies that have turned the adage "no taxation without representation" on its head. However, their capacity to buy social peace differs greatly from one to another. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (especially Abu Dhabi) lie at one extreme with their enormous wealth per capita from energy sources, providing them with more than enough resources to buy off their relatively miniscule populations. Yemen, which is poor, and Bahrain, which lacks oil wealth, lie at the other extreme. Yemen has been in the midst of political strife for several years with multiple secessionist movements and contenders of power slugging it out with each other. President Ali Abdullah Saleh's recent departure is unlikely to make too much of a difference to this chronically unstable country.
Bahrain, with a politically aware population and little oil wealth, has become the spearhead of the democratic uprising in the Gulf. The fact that it has a Sunni monarchy ruling over a 70 percent Shia majority has allowed its rulers to portray the democracy movement in sectarian terms. This was not true at the beginning of the movement but is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy as the regime's repressive policy persists. Nonetheless, Bahrain continues to be the weakest link in the chain of Gulf autocracies and, therefore, of extreme concern to the GCC's leading power, Saudi Arabia. While the regime seems to have temporarily suppressed the democracy movement, Bahrain's revolutionaries are unlikely to give up the fight anytime soon.
It is Saudi Arabia, the largest and the richest of the kingdoms, that is the key Arab country to watch in the Gulf in the context of the profound changes affecting the Arab world. Saudi Arabia, with its enormous reserves of oil, a respectable demographic base, and a huge inventory of sophisticated weaponry bought from the West, principally the United States, is located at the center of the Arab Gulf system and is the predominant power in the GCC. Its geostrategic competition with Iran and its self-proclaimed role as the protector of Sunni interests against Shia Iran make it the logical pillar of American policy in the Persian Gulf. However, Saudi Arabia is potentially a colossus with feet of clay. Bolstering Saudi capabilities, principally by the transfer of sophisticated weaponry by the United States, is unlikely to change the balance of power in the Persian Gulf given the vulnerabilities of the Saudi state, including its octogenarian leadership and lack of genuine political institutions, as well as its lack of soft power (other than cash) to influence events in the long term.
Despite much vulnerability the Saudi regime has so far been able to buy time with its hefty financial resources to purchase the loyalty of its subjects. Furthermore, it has cleverly played the anti-Shia card by pointing to Iran as the primary cause of Shia unrest in its oil-rich eastern province. It has also persuaded the Wahhabi religious establishment to denounce any form of protest against the House of Saud as anti-Islamic, thereby portraying supporters of democracy as enemies of Islam. Above all, as an astute analyst of Saudi Arabia points out: "Saudi Arabia's experience of the Arab Spring demonstrates that it lacks the structural conditions for mobilization, organization, and protest, let alone revolution...Saudi Arabia does not have trade unions-the majority of its working population is foreign, which has stunted the growth of organized labor-a women's movement, or an active student population, three factors that helped to make protests in Tunis and Cairo successful." The only avenue left for any opposition, therefore, is violence that is likely to be met with much greater counter-violence by the state. With Saudi Arabia's close strategic links with the United States and its huge petroleum reserves, the regime is likely to overcome such opposition at least in the short to medium term as the preeminent status quo power.
What is clear in all cases is that the initial optimism regarding the prospect of a region wide "Arab Spring" quickly taking hold was clearly misplaced. In fact, given the current situation in Libya and prospects of similar outcomes if democratic uprisings take place in countries with brutally repressive military regimes such as Algeria, the Arab world maybe heading for more turmoil, death, and destruction -- at least in the near term.
The Regional Influentials
Furthermore, the speculation about Arab countries such as Egypt playing a larger role in the international politics of the Middle East in the wake of democratic transformations now appear to be more a product of wishful thinking than of objective analysis. Most of the energies of Arab governments, whether authoritarian or democratic or in between, will be concentrated in tackling issues of domestic order and legitimacy for the next few years, if not decades. This would leave them with little inclination to pursue proactive foreign policies except for tiny Qatar that is flush with gas wealth and sees a high international profile as a strategy to enhance the legitimacy of its regime among its tiny native population. However, given its limited capabilities, the Qatari attempt to play a larger than life size role may eventually turn out to be counterproductive and lead to unforeseen negative consequences for the ruling house.
The only major Arab country likely to engage in active diplomacy is Saudi Arabia, both because of its enormous oil wealth and because its regime feels threatened by a nexus of external and internal forces that require an active foreign policy especially to curb the growth of Iranian influence in the region. However, as discussed above, Saudi Arabia's inherent vulnerabilities and built-in contradictions in its foreign policy are likely to limit its regional appeal and hobble its diplomacy to a considerable extent.
Egypt, the traditional leader of the Arab world, will remain politically introverted for a long time to come, thus detracting from its capacity to influence regional events. Despite more political openness and a public face of civilian rule, it is unlikely that the fundamental power structure in Egypt or its foreign-policy orientation will undergo radical transformation except in the very long run, if and when civilian forces are able to chip away at the military's domination of the country's political and economic life. It is worth noting in this context that it took six decades for Turkey to assert a reasonable amount of civilian control over its military, and that the process is still far from complete. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Egyptian revolution will have a major impact on the political and strategic landscape in the Middle East in the short and medium terms.
The other traditional major center of Arab power, Iraq, is located centrally in the Middle East connecting the Fertile Crescent to the Persian Gulf. However, Iraq's power was drastically depleted and its influence dramatically curtailed beginning with the Gulf War of 1991. Iraq's decline became a full-blown reality following the invasion by the United States in 2003. Since then it has been mired in the domestic mess created by the invasion and the attendant destruction of its state institutions and governing capacity. Furthermore, the invasion has decimated it militarily as well as drastically reduced its capacity to influence regional events diplomatically. In fact, it has become more an object of influence -- by Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United States -- rather than an autonomous center of power with the capacity to influence regional events.
The basic lesson that one draws from this account as far as the international relations of the Middle East is concerned is that the Arab world in general, and major Arab powers in particular, with the possible and partial exception of Saudi Arabia, will not be in a position to greatly affect regional outcomes for the next couple of decades. This leaves the non-Arab powers, especially Turkey, Iran, and Israel, as major regional players whose actions and relationships with each other are likely to determine the future of the Middle East for quite some time to come. It appears that despite the initial promise of the "Arab Spring", Ankara, Tehran, and Tel Aviv will continue to dominate the regional political landscape far more than any of their Arab counterparts.
Mohammed Ayoob is the university distinguished professor of international relations at Michigan State University and adjunct scholar at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.