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Islamic renewal? Western challenge!

Islamic traditionalists vs. Islamic reformers

In 2020, a dramatic battle is raging between the traditional, imperialistic school of Islam, which insists on strict adherence to the Quran and Sharia (“divine laws”), on the one hand, and the modernist/reformist school of Islam, which wishes to adjust Islam to the 21st century, by reforming intolerant and violent principles of the Quran, on the other hand.

The traditionalists are led by Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al Azhar University, the highest authority of Sunni Islamic learning, which was established in 975 CE, and the pan-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic terror organization, which was established in Egypt in 1928. The latter is heavily supported by Turkey’s Erdogan, haunting every pro-US Arab regime and stretching its presence into Latin America and the US.

The modernists – who face a steep uphill battle – are led by Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and the President of Cairo University, Mohamed al-Khosht. They urge Islamic liberalization and modernization.

The January 27-28, 2020 Al Azhar International Conference on Renovation of Islamic Thought, with leading clerics and politicians from 46 Muslim countries, demonstrated the decisive dominance enjoyed by the traditional school of thought in the Arab/Muslim world.

The conference accorded reverence and thunderous ovation to the call by Al Azhar’s grand Imam for the renewal of rigorous obedience to the Quran and Sharia and to his harsh criticism of the modernists. However, there was no applause for the challenging President of Cairo University, who called for replacing some of the traditional Islamic guidelines, which “are suitable for a different age.”  The modernists – most notably President Sisi – maintain that adjusting Islam to the 21st century is a prerequisite to de-radicalize Islamic youth, reduce intolerance and violence, curtail regional turbulence and set Muslim societies on a modern path.

Islamic reality facing Western democracies

In 2020, the conclusion of the January Islamic Conference highlighted the critical intellectual and national security challenge facing Western democracies, which tend to underestimate the clout of the Quran and Sharia in determining the strategy and policies of various Islamic entities, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey’s Erdogan, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.  Are these entities driven primarily by economic interests or by the classic precepts of Islam?

Thus, Western democracies were elated to hear the traditionalist Grand Imam of Al Azhar stating that “Jihad [holy war] is not synonymous with fighting…” and that “established Sharia bans antagonism for those who oppose the religion [Islam]….”  They tend to ignore his assertion that “renewal is in no way possible concerning those texts, which are irrefutable in their certainty and stability [the Quran and Sharia].”

Moreover, Western democracies tend to sacrifice reality on the altar of well-intentioned hope. Hence, Islam was introduced in the early 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula town of Mecca, took over the entire Peninsula, expanded throughout the Middle East and Turkey, surged to northwest Africa and Spain, and established itself in parts of Asia and Africa. Was such an unprecedented expansion achieved via peaceful persuasion or the power of the sword?

According to historical documentation, Islamic wars have not been defensive, but rather Jihad-driven offensive. The 14 century expansion of Islam has been energized by wars, terrorism, subversion and other forms of intolerant violence toward “believers” as well as “infidels.”

In fact, in 2020, there has been a resurgence of the 7th century Islamic guidelines, as exercised by Islamic regimes such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Moslem Brotherhood, ISIS and Turkey’s Erdogan, which pursue global imperialism in accordance with the Quran and Sharia (“divine laws”). This aggressive Islamic strategy is intensified by the education curriculum in Muslim entities, including the Palestinian Authority.

This strategy is a derivative of the precepts of Islam, as prescribed by the Quran and Sharia (Divine Laws).

For example:

*Islam is the sole legitimate religion, divinely-ordained to rule the globe;
*“Infidels” must submit themselves to the “believers” unconditionally, peacefully or militarily;
*Jihad (holy war) is a prime commitment to Islam, guaranteeing each warrior 72 virgins in paradise;
*Terrorism is aimed at terrifying “infidel” civilians into defeat;
*Accords with “infidels” are non-binding, temporary ceasefires and truces (sulh, hudna) – not end of conflict – to be abrogated once “believers” regain sufficient fire-power;
*Double-speak and dissimulation (Taqiyyah) are legitimate tactics aimed at misleading and defeating “infidels.”

The Western challenge

Will Western democracies persist in allowing their hope for Islamic reform to cloud the skillful use of Islamic dissimulation (as was evidenced by the Western embrace of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran’s Ayatollahs; the miscomprehension of the 2010 eruption of the Arab Tsunami; and the misrepresentation of the 1993 Arafat’s supposed acceptance of preconditions for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority)?

Are Western democracies aware of the 1,400 year old supremacy of the precepts of Islam in shaping the policies of rogue Islamic regimes?

Will Western democracies persist in ignoring the centrality of hate-education in bolstering radical Islam, while serving as the most effective incubator of terrorism (e.g., the Palestinian Authority)?

The preservation of Western democracies is jeopardized by the tendency to sacrifice reality and long term interests on the altar of oversimplification, wishful-thinking and immediate gratification.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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The Abraham Accords – the US, Arab interests and Israel

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan believe that the expansion of the Abraham Accords, the enhancement of Israel-Saudi defense and commercial cooperation and the conclusion of an Israel-Saudi Arabia peace accord are preconditioned upon major Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

Is such a belief consistent with Middle East reality?

Arab interests

*The signing of the Abraham Accords, and the role played by Saudi Arabia as a critical engine of the accords, were driven by the national security, economic and diplomatic interests of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan.

*The Arab interest in peace accords with Israel was not triggered by the realization that the Jewish State was genuinely seeking peaceful-coexistence, nor by a departure from the fundamental tenets of Islam. It was motivated by the assessment that critical concerns of the respective Arab countries would be effectively-served by Israel’s advanced military (Qualitative Military Edge), technological and diplomatic capabilities in the face of mutual and lethal enemies, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs and Muslim Brotherhood terrorism.

*Saudi Arabia and the six Arab peace partners of Israel (including Egypt and Jordan) are aware that the Middle East resembles a volcano, which occasionally releases explosive lava – domestically and/or regionally – in an unpredictable manner, as evidenced by the 1,400-year-old stormy intra-Arab/Muslim relations, and recently demonstrated by the Arab Tsunami, which erupted in 2011 and still rages.

They wish to minimize the impact of rogue regimes, and therefore are apprehensive about the nature of the proposed Palestinian state, in view of the rogue Palestinian inter-Arab track record, which has transformed Palestinians into an intra-Arab role model of subversion, terrorism, treachery and ingratitude.

*They are anxious about the erosion of the US posture of deterrence, which is their most critical component of national security, and alarmed about the 43-year-old US diplomatic option toward Iran’s Ayatollahs, which has bolstered the Ayatollahs’ terroristic, drug trafficking and ballistic capabilities. They are also concerned about the US’ embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest Sunni terrorist entity with religious, educational, welfare and political branches. And, they are aware of the ineffectiveness of NATO (No Action Talk Only?), the European vacillation, and the vulnerability of all other Arab countries.

Israel’s role

*Saudi Arabia and the Arab partners to peace accords with Israel feel the machetes of the Ayatollahs and the Moslem Brotherhood at their throats. They consider Israel as the most reliable “life insurance agent” in the region.  They view Israel as the most effective US force-multiplier in the Middle East, and appreciate Israel’s proven posture of deterrence; flexing its military muscles against Iran’s Ayatollahs in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran itself and against Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism. They respect Israel’s unique counter-terrorism intelligence and training capabilities, and its game-changing military and counter-terrorism battle tactics and technologies.

*The Arab view of Israel as a reliable partner on “a rainy day” has been bolstered by Israel’s willingness to defy US pressure, when it comes to Israel’s most critical national security and historic credos (e.g., Iran, Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria).  In addition, Saudi Arabia and Israel’s peace-partners aim to leverage Israel’s good-standing among most Americans – and therefore among most Senators and House Representatives – as a venue to enhance their military, commercial and diplomatic ties with the US.

*Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are preoccupied with the challenge of economic diversification, realizing that they are overly-reliant on oil and natural gas, which are exposed to price-volatility, depletion and could be replaced by emerging cleaner and more cost-effective energy.

Thus, they consider Israel’s ground-breaking technologies as a most effective vehicle to diversify their economy, create more jobs in non-energy sectors, and establish a base for alternative sources of national income, while bolstering homeland and national security.

*The Abraham Accords – as well as Israel’s peace accords with Egypt and Jordan – and the unprecedented expansion of defense and commercial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel, demonstrate that critical Arab national security interests may supersede fundamental tenets of Islam, such as the 1,400-year-old rejection of any “infidel” sovereignty in “the abode of Islam.”  Moreover, critical national security interests may lead to a dramatic moderation of the (Arab) education system, which is the most authentic reflection of one’s vision and policies.

Thus, contrary to the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates has uprooted hate-education curriculum, replacing it with pro-Israel/Jewish curriculum.

Abraham Accords’ durability

*The success of the Abraham Accords was a result of avoiding the systematic mistakes committed by the US State Department. The latter has produced a litany of failed peace proposals, centered on the Palestinian issue, while the Abraham accords bypassed the Palestinian issue, avoiding a Palestinian veto, and focusing on Arab interests. Therefore, the durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the interests of the respective Arab countries, and not on the Palestinian issue, which is not a top priority for any Arab country.

*The durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the stability of the individual Arab countries and the Middle East at-large.

*The Abraham Accord have yielded initial and unprecedented signs of moderation, modernity and peaceful coexistence, which requires the US to support the respective pro-US Arab regimes, rather than pressuring them (e.g., Saudi Arabia and the UAE).

*However, one should not ignore the grave threats to the durability of the accords, posed by the volcanic nature of the unstable, highly-fragmented, unpredictable, violently intolerant, non-democratic and tenuous Middle East (as related to intra-Arab relations!).  These inherent threats would be dramatically alleviated by a resolute US support.

*A major threat to the Abraham Accord is the tenuous nature of most Arab regimes in the Middle East, which yields tenuous policies and tenuous accords. For example, in addition to the Arab Tsunami of 2010 (which is still raging on the Arab Street), non-ballot regime-change occurred (with a dramatic change of policy) in Egypt (2013, 2012, 1952), Iran (1979, 1953), Iraq (2003, 1968, 1963-twice, 1958), Libya (2011, 1969), Yemen (a civil war since the ’90s, 1990, 1962), etc.

*Regional stability, the Abraham Accords and US interests would be undermined by the proposed Palestinian state west of the Jordan River (bearing in mind the intra-Arab Palestinian track record). It would topple the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River; transforming Jordan into another platform of regional and global Islamic terrorism, similar to Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen; triggering a domino scenario, which would threaten every pro-US Arab oil-producing country in the Arabian Peninsula; yielding a robust tailwind to Iran’s Ayatollahs, Russia and China and a major headwind to the US.

*While Middle East reality defines policies and accords as variable components of national security, the topography and geography of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Golan Heights are fixed components of Israel’s minimal security requirements in the reality of the non-Western Middle East. Israel’s fixed components of national security have secured its survival, and have dramatically enhanced its posture of deterrence. They transformed the Jewish State into a unique force and dollar multiplier for the US.

*The more durable the Abraham Accords and the more robust Israel’s posture of deterrence, the more stable the pro-US Arab regimes and the Middle East at-large; the more deterred are anti-US rogue regimes; the less potent are Middle Eastern epicenters of anti-US terrorism and drug trafficking; the more bolstered is the US global posture and the weaker is the posture of the US’ enemies and adversaries.

*Would the Arab regimes of the Abraham Accords precondition their critical ties with Israel upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, which they view as a rogue element? Would they sacrifice their national security and economic interests on the altar of the Palestinian issue? Would they cut off their nose to spite their face?

The fact that these Arab regimes concluded the Abraham Accords without preconditioning it upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, and that they limit their support of the Palestinians to talk, rather than walk, provides an answer to these three questions.

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