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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a self-professed holy man. In a video released on an Iranian Web site linked to the Revolutionary Guards (and reported on by "Regime Change in Iran" Web site), Ahmadinejad related that during his speech in the fall to the UN General Assembly, he "felt a light" surrounding and protecting him. In his words, after the light appeared, "the atmosphere changed and for 27-28 minutes the leaders could not blinkâ€¦. All the leaders were puzzled, as if a hand held them and made them sit. They had their eyes and ears open for the message from the Islamic Republic."
Apparently Mr. "Wipe Israel off the map" feels comfortable enough in his own shoes these days to expose himself not merely as the most overtly radical Iranian leader since the 1980s, but also as a wacko mystical prophet of genocide. And why shouldn't he feel that way? His speech about liquidating Israel went off with scarcely a hitch.
It is true that all sorts of leaders of all sorts of reputable countries expressed their shock at Iran's plan to carry out an updated version of the Holocaust. Many even went so far as to say that his plan is unacceptable.
But then again, for the first time since the Islamic revolution in 1979, this week the US announced that it would directly engage the Iranian regime. In an interview with Newsweek early this week, US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said, "I've been authorized by the president to engage the Iranians. There will be meetings and that's also a departure and an adjustment," from America's policy for the past 26 years. So much for shock.
The Americans, like the Europeans, seem to have lost all shame in their dealings with Iran. Since Iran announced six months ago that it was renouncing its deal with Britain, France and Germany and was renewing its uranium enrichment activities, the West's policy towards Iran has become characterized by obsequiousness in the face of Iranian insults and intimidation.
When in the wake of the London attacks in July it looked as though Britain was leaning towards supporting the referral of Iran's nuclear weapons program to the UN Security Council, the Iranians launched an offensive against British forces in Basra. Over the weekend, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that Britain, France and Germany are interested in renewing their talks with Iran even though the Iranians continue to enrich uranium.
Last week it was Russia's turn to act as the redeemer of the West. The Russians gave yet another excuse to the "international community" to deny the fact that the greatest threat to global security is developing nuclear weapons. Moscow, which built Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor and provided critical assistance to Iran's ballistic missile program, renewed an offer (which was previously rejected by the Europeans and the Americans) to enrich uranium for the Iranians in Russia. This offer enabled the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Americans and the Europeans to again delay referring Iran to the Security Council in spite of the fact that the Iranians rejected the offer out of hand.
And it isn't just that Teheran rejected the offer. According to the Daily Telegraph, the mullahs are training Chechen terrorists at a Revolutionary Guards training base in Teheran. As one senior Western intelligence official put it to the paper, "Just as they orchestrated attacks against British troops in Basra to pressure Britain to drop its opposition to Iran's nuclear program, so they are trying to put pressure on Moscow by backing Chechen fighters."
And if Russia's assistance with Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs weren't enough, we have Russia's assistance for Iran's space program. Last month Iran launched its first satellite, the Sina-1, on a Russian rocket. Last week Iran and Russia signed another deal for cooperation in space programs. For $132 million, Russia will launch yet more Iranian satellites into orbit over the next two years.
If its dealings with Iran aren't sufficient to prove the West's incompetence and spinelessness in contending with the rising Islamic menace, the EuroMed Partnership conference at Barcelona over the weekend showed conclusively who wears the pants in this pathological relationship. Almost all of the leaders of the 25 EU member nations came to discuss terrorism and immigration with the 10 Muslim members of the organization (and Israel). But the Muslim leaders didn't show up. Aside from Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian Authority chieftain Mahmoud Abbas, the EU heads of state found themselves sitting across the table from no-name bureaucrats. And despite their lowly ranks, they would not bow to European pressure to condemn terrorism. As to the massive illegal immigration from North Africa to Europe, the Muslim bureaucrats claimed that it's Europe's problem and, to solve it, Europe needs to flood their countries with cash assistance.
In point of fact, for Europe the issues of Islamic terror and immigration are the most pressing issues of the day. This point was brought home a few days ago in Switzerland with the arrest of Egyptian banker Youssef Nada on charges of terror financing. Nada, who has been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood for 50 years, is closely associated with Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, one of the chief ideologues for al-Qaida and Hamas. According to "The Daily Ablution" Web site, Qaradawi was the fourth largest shareholder in Nada's bank. In their search of Nada's home, Swiss authorities seized a document entitled, "The Project." According to the Swiss daily Le Temps the document lays out the Muslim Brotherhood's strategy for undermining the international system in order to enable the Islamic takeover of the world. The document calls for the use of terror, mass immigration to the West, propaganda and subversion in order "to establish the reign of Allah throughout the world."
Two articles in the document's preamble (translated by "The Daily Ablution"), relate to Israel's role within the overall strategy of jihad. Article 7 explains that Islamic forces must "accept the principle of temporary cooperation between Islamic movements and nationalist movements in the broad sphere and on common ground such as the struggle against colonialism, preaching and the Jewish state, without [forming] alliances." Article 11 tells them "To adopt the Palestinian cause as part of a worldwide Islamic planâ€¦ and [to advance the cause] by means of jihad, since it acts as the keystone of the renaissance of the Arab world today." From these two articles it is clear that for the ideologues of global jihad, Israel is a central component of their war strategy. Through the war against Israel the jihadis can build coalitions with non-Muslim forces who support Israel's destruction and mobilize the support of the Arab world for the larger jihad against the West.
Against the backdrop of the fecklessness of the West on the one hand and the emboldening of the forces of jihad throughout the world on the other, the question naturally arises, what is Israel doing to protect itself?
In his appearance before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday, the IDF's intelligence chief, Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi Farkash discussed Iran's nuclear program. Ze'evi Farkash said, "The international diplomatic campaign against Iran's nuclear armament has weakened. The attempts by the international community are nearing completion. In this phase, the Iranians have the upper hand and the diplomatic containment [policy] is in danger." Oddly, Ze'evi Farkash added, "If by the end of March the international community does not succeed in referring the issue to the Security Council, it will be possible to say that the international attempts have failed."
The interesting thing here is the timing. In choosing the end of March - which neatly coincides with Israel's general elections - as the target date on Iran, Ze'evi Farkash is insulating Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from criticism of the fact that for the past five years, he has done absolutely nothing, and developed no strategy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. What Ze'evi Farkash is effectively saying is that until after the election, Israel can continue to parade about with no strategy regarding Iran, just as it lacks any coherent plan for contending with the Palestinian terror war and Hizbullah's increasing aggression.
Sharon's speech on Thursday before the Editors' Commission is a case in point. On the one hand, Sharon said that Israel will not abide by a nuclear-armed Iran. On the other hand he said that Israel is preparing for the day that Iran has nuclear weapons. And then, he stipulated that anyway, Israel is following America's lead in contending with the issue. In short, Sharon stated that Israel has no policy for preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons just as it has no policy for dealing with the Palestinians.
This latter point was made clear on Tuesday as Sharon discussed the new terror axis that sprang up in the aftermath of the IDF's abandonment of the Gaza Strip. Sharon said, "the mission of the [security] forces is to stop the cross-border traffic" between Egypt and Israel. In Sharon's view, "there is no difference between criminal infiltrations and military infiltrations. Anyone who trespasses the border for criminal purposes will do so in the future for military purposes."
Very nicely put. But the new phenomenon of collaboration between Palestinian terrorists and other Arab terrorists in the Sinai from Hizbullah and al-Qaida, and the infiltration of both into Israel and Judea with the assistance of Beduin criminal rings in the Negev, would never have developed if Sharon had not forced a withdrawal of IDF forces from the international border between Gaza and the Sinai. And terrorist forces would never have felt so emboldened if Sharon hadn't expelled all the Jews from their territories in Gaza and northern Samaria.
Today, Sharon's plan to deal with this cross-border terror threat is to continue to capitulate to terrorists. His new "centrist" party's leftist platform will lead to massive IDF pullouts in Judea and Samaria and the expulsion of tens of thousands of Jews from their communities in the areas.
Ze'evi Farkash also discussed the situation in Lebanon. He explained that Hizbullah will continue to attack Israel with direct assistance from Iran and Syria in an attempt to divert international attention from the UN investigation of the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. As is the case with the Palestinians and Iran, Israel has no plan for dealing with Hizbullah other than to hunker down and hope for the best. The result of this Israeli fecklessness is the increasing emboldening of Hizbullah. At the funerals in southern Beirut for its terrorists killed during their offensive against northern Israel last week, official representatives of the Lebanese government were on hand to hear Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah speak of the group's "inherent right" to kidnap Israeli soldiers.
The West's incompetence in contending with the forces of jihad from Iran to Switzerland to Lebanon and Ramallah shows clearly that the European and increasingly the American strategy for dealing with the rising forces of global jihad is to bury their heads in the sand. Apparently the hope is that the jihad will end with Israel. The problem is that the Sharon government is acting in exactly the same manner.
If the West doesn't wise up, it will pay a price in economic dislocation, a loss of liberty and the death of many of its citizens. If Israel doesn't shape up, the price we will pay will be of another order altogether.
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