1:41 PM, Jan 22, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
The Middle East Media Research Institute translates a recent article by Saudi columnist Khalaf Al-Harbi, published in the Saudi government daily Okaz, arguing that the number of Arabs Ariel Sharon “killed is nowhere near that of those who died at the hands of Arab rulers, especially since the onset of the Arab Spring.”
I made a related point in “The Arab Myth of Ariel Sharon” in this week’s issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Considering the Arab media’s assessments of Sharon published after his death January 11, I noted that many of them saw the Israeli leader as “evil incarnate.” Worse yet, with some Arab commentators “describing a genealogy that begins with the Israeli leader” and culminates with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, they were “offering an excuse for Arab pathology.”
“It’s as if the Arabs can’t even own their violence,” Tony Badran, a Beirut-born research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who lived through Lebanon’s civil war, told me. “They portray their violence as somehow an imitation of, or as emanating from, a standard set by Sharon. This is a political culture that has produced, among others, the Assads, Sr. and Jr., Saddam Hussein, Omar Bashir, and Muammar Qaddafi. To make Sharon the avatar of Middle East butchery is absurd.”
The thrust of Harbi’s article is to make Arabs account for their own violence. "Had Sharon been placed in the same cage as Arab criminals,” writes Harbi, “the judges would have seen that the number of victims killed in the massacres he carried out throughout his long military and political history does not come close to the number of victims killed in [even one] nonviolent protest that one of the criminal Arab [rulers] caged beside him had ordered to disperse.”
One Arab despot that comes in for special mention is Assad—which is to say that while this article lays bare an important home truth, the Saudi press rarely passes up the opportunity now to go after Assad and his villainous regime.
John Kerry’s opening statement today at the Geneva II conference aimed at ending the nearly three-year-long Syrian civil war demanded Assad’s removal. "There is no way…that the man who led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern," said Kerry. His Syrian counterpart, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, rejected Kerry’s statement and accused the United States of supporting rebel units affiliated with al-Qaeda. "I have the right to give the Syrian version to this forum,” said Moallem, in a long rambling speech that U.N. secretary feneral Ban Ki-Moon tried to cut short. No, Moallem told Moon defiantly, proudly representing a regime responsible now for as many as 130,000 deaths—“This is Syria.”
8:18 AM, Sep 19, 2013 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Against the expectation of many observers, social change continues in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recent reforms have particularly affected the status of women. At the end of August, the Saudis took a remarkable and surprising step by criminalizing domestic violence. As reported in the London Independent, the Saudi cabinet “passed a ban on domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.”
7:15 AM, Sep 4, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
Lost in the debate over responding to Bashar al-Assad’s use of nerve gas is the fact that the United States has other interests in the Syrian civil war, like mitigating the effects of the war on Syria’s neighbors—Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Israel—and countering the regional ambitions of Assad’s key ally, Iran. Unfortunately, the president has consistently failed to advance these arguments over the last two years. The White House has also been consistent in one other respect: It has repeatedly blamed others for its failures.
After a week's worth of fighting in Syria, the Islamic resistance licks its wounds.3:16 PM, May 24, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
For over a week now, the Syrian town of Qusayr in Homs Province has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the two-year conflict. The struggle for Qusayr, says besieged President Bashar al-Assad, “is the main battle” in all of Syria.
12:11 PM, Feb 12, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Fox News reported yesterday that Chuck Hagel, who has been nominated as the next secretary of defense, failed to “disclose at least two recent speeches on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict” in paperwork filed with the Senate.
2:54 PM, Nov 8, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Smith, told the Arabic news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat that American foreign policy will now change after President Barack Obama's reelection. Smith made the comments at an election night party at his residence.
5:30 PM, Jul 31, 2012 • By NOAH POLLAK
The press is having fun today amplifying the complaint of Palestinian "negotiator" Saeb Ereikat that comments Mitt Romney made in Jerusalem yesterday are "racist." What was Romney's offense? In the course of expressing amazement at Israel's economic miracle, he merely pointed out that cultural differences lead to differences in economic performance.
8:05 AM, Jun 22, 2012 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
The death last week of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Nayef Bin Abd Al-Aziz, aged 78 and heir to his half-brother, King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, was not immediately foreseen by the Saudi public.
10:22 PM, Jun 16, 2012 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Saudi Arabian crown prince Nayef Bin Abd Al-Aziz, designated heir to King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, died Saturday in Geneva, where he was receiving medical treatment. Nayef, 78, headed the country’s ministry of interior and was deputy premier in the royal cabinet. He was named crown prince last year.
2:33 PM, May 21, 2012 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz last December called for promoting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including the Saudi kingdom, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman, into a unified body, which has been described as a “super-state.” The Saudis and the other GCC members are currently engaged in discussions intended to bring closer coordination, if not fusion, within the council.
1:33 PM, Apr 23, 2012 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
The situation of the Palestinian Authority is grim. Its diplomatic offensive against Israel in the United Nations did not win it statehood, there are no serious negotiations with Israel because the PA refuses them, Hamas controls Gaza, and Palestinian elections keep getting postponed despite the “Arab Spring” and the wave of elections in Arab countries. Internally, relations between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad were recently so poor that for several days Abbas apparently refused even to speak to Fayyad.
5:31 PM, Oct 4, 2011 • By LEE SMITH
Ladbrokes of London, the famous British bookmaker, lists the Syrian-born poet Adonis as a 4 to 1 favorite to win this year’s Nobel Prize, due to be announced in the next few days. According to one Ladbrokes official, “I really think this is poetry’s year, and without a doubt, the politically correct choice would be Adonis.”
States can and will support al Qaeda, unless they continue to fear an American response.3:21 PM, Sep 7, 2011 • By REUEL MARC GERECHT
Has the United States been successful in its war against terrorism? Yes, without a doubt. Although Islamic militancy remains a potent force, especially in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, Washington’s relentless pursuit of armed jihadists has severely damaged the capacity of Sunni radical groups to strike the United States, at home and abroad.