Clifford D. May

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The Hungarian resistance

Most people want to survive. What could be more natural than that? Most peoples want to survive, too. That’s no less natural.

For a thousand years, the lands inhabited by the Hungarian people have been invaded, their settlements sacked, men, women and children enslaved and slaughtered. Mongols, Ottomans, Nazis and Soviets were among those who conquered and ruled the Hungarians. Somehow, they’ve survived.

Hungarians today, a clear majority, believe their national existence — their unique identity, language, culture and traditions — is threatened again. This time, however, it is not by nomads on horseback or soldiers in tanks. It is by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Arab-Israeli talk-fest for peace

In Warsaw last week, the Trump administration convened a conference on peace and security in the Middle East. The two-day ministerial did not change the world. But it did highlight significant ways in which the world has changed.

Envoys arrived from more than 60 countries, including 10 Arab nations. The one head of state was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was clearly pleased to be getting together with his neighbors. And they did not seem displeased to be getting together with him.

For this significant change there is a simple explanation: The Arab states and the Jewish state agree, as does the current U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europe’s silence

It’s tempting to say that Europe’s leaders lack the courage of their convictions. But that would imply that they have convictions. The evidence suggests those days are gone.

In particular, Europe’s leaders have been conspicuously unmoved by the spectacle of Iranians, day after day, taking to the streets in dozens of cities and towns, risking arrest, torture and death to protest their oppression and impoverishment by a religious class that has been Iran’s ruling class for almost two generations.

The theocrats have used the nation’s oil wealth, in addition to the billions of dollars that have filled Iranian coffers thanks to sanctions relief, to support fighters in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza.…  Seguir leyendo »

Eruption in Iran

The revolution that transformed Iran in 1979 was a grand experiment. From that moment on, Iran would be ruled by an ayatollah, a man with deep knowledge of Shariah, Islamic law. He would be the “supreme leader,” a euphemism for dictator. He would merit that authority because he would be regarded, literally, as God’s “representative on Earth.”

The first supreme leader was Ruhollah Khomeini, a charismatic, fire-and-brimstone cleric, an unwavering proponent of jihad against America and the West. When he died in 1989 the title went to Ali Khamenei who in no way moderated the regime’s ideology. On the contrary, he has called the Islamic Revolution the “turning point in modern world history.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Illustration on the continued attacks on Israel by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, as its name suggests, an organization committed to jihad — against Israel most urgently, though not exclusively. So when the U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel, PIJ spokesman Dawood Shihab was pleased. He called it a “victory.” He wasn’t wrong.

Nor was Fawzy Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, another organization openly committed to Israel’s extermination, as well as to “a jihadi revolution” that will be a “prelude to the establishment of the future Islamic caliphate.” He called the resolution an “important evolution in international positions.” He expressed Hamas‘ “appreciation.”

Most deserving of their gratitude is Barack Obama who decided to spend his last days in office playing golf in Hawaii and throwing America’s most reliable ally to the wolves at the U.N.,…  Seguir leyendo »

Illustration on Iran’s future role in Syria by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Over the last five years, Syria has been descending into a hell on Earth. Over the last four months, the lowest depths of the inferno have been on display in Aleppo, an ancient city, once among the most diverse and dynamic in the Middle East. On Friday, in the final press conference of his presidency, Barack Obama addressed this still-unfolding humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.

“So with respect to Syria,” he said, “what I have consistently done is taken the best course that I can to try to end the civil war while having also to take into account the long-term national security interests of the United States.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Mahmoud Abbas, the president still

One man, one vote, one time: In 2005, Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. He hasn’t bothered to run for re-election since.

He also is president of Fatah, a political movement with past ties to terrorism and the dominant faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO was founded in 1964 — three years before Israelis were in Gaza or the West Bank. Mr. Abbas is chairman of the PLO, too.

What all this means is that despite Mr. Abbas’ declining popularity — two-thirds of Palestinians would like him to resign, according to a recent poll — no one has been able to successfully challenge his power on the West Bank.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran and the future of the Middle East

Nixon went to China. Obama will not be going to Iran.

The 1972 visit of President Richard M. Nixon to the People’s Republic included meetings with both Chairman Mao Zedong, the communist revolutionary leader, and Premier Zhou Enlai, the pragmatic head of the government. Detente and normalization of relations followed.

By stark contrast, Ali Khamenei, the Islamic republic’s revolutionary leader, and Hassan Rouhani, the pragmatic president of the theocratic regime, will not deign even to share a bottle of pomegranate juice with Barack H. Obama, president of “satanic” America, their avowed “enemy.”

President Obama appears unperturbed, confident that detente and normalization of relations — not to mention a more stable Middle East — lie at the end of the road he began to pave with his 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a nuclear deal that garnered neither Congress’ endorsement nor the public’s approval.…  Seguir leyendo »

Satrapy fishing in the Yemen

Three years ago, film-goers were treated to “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” which critic Kenneth Turan called a “pleasant fantasy” about the Middle East. Today, of course, Yemen is the hub of a bloody conflict, one which President Obama persists in viewing with equal unreality.

Most obviously: Yemen is not, as the administration has touted, a “success” brought about by its “smart diplomacy.” Most importantly: Iran has a plan. Yemen is a vital component.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees that. So does Saudi King Salman (and no, I will not dwell on the pun). His foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, last week called Iran “an aggressive state that is intervening and operating forces in the Arab world.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Illustration on Argentine corruption and the death of Alberto Nisman by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

“When heads of state become gangsters, something has to be done.” Winston Churchill said that. It’s a proposition not many people nowadays endorse. Fewer still take it upon themselves to stand up to the thugs-cum-statesmen.

Alberto Nisman was an exception — right up until last week when he was found dead, a .22-caliber bullet in his brain. Shocking? Yes. Surprising? Hardly. He and those who knew him (myself included) were always keenly aware that this was possible — perhaps likely. To say he was courageous would be a gross understatement.

A little background: Mr. Nisman, 51, was an Argentine federal prosecutor, chief investigator of the 1994 bombing of AMIA, a Jewish cultural center, in Buenos Aires.…  Seguir leyendo »

Slaughter in the synagogue

Executioners for the Islamic State use knives to cut the throats of Christians, Yazidis and “apostate” Muslims. Palestinian executioners last week used knives and a meat cleaver to slaughter Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in West Jerusalem.

Those fighting for the Islamic State say they are waging a religious war. Hamas columnist Issam Shawer praised the slaughter as a “martyrdom operation” against the “descendants of apes and pigs.”

Followers of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi call themselves jihadis and say they are fighting for a caliphate that will be “cleansed” of infidels. Members of Hamas call themselves jihadis and say they fighting for a Palestinian state that will be “cleansed” of Jews.…  Seguir leyendo »

Betting on Iran

Negotiations with Iran are set to conclude on Monday. What are the odds they will end with Iran’s rulers agreeing to verifiably dismantle their illicit nuclear weapons program? I’d wager 100 to one against that outcome — but I doubt I’d find a bookie willing to take my bet.

If a good deal is out of the question, what are the other options? The first is a “final agreement” that gives Tehran a lot in exchange for a little, but which President Obama would present as a triumph of diplomacy.

More likely is a “framework agreement,” a statement of principles that will be the subject of yet another round of talks.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel and the war of words

Last week, a terrorist drove his car into a crowd at a light-rail station, killing a three-month-old baby. Eight others were injured, including a 22-year-old woman who died a few days later. The attacker fled the scene pursued by police who fatally shot him.

Terrorists also have struck in Ottawa and New York in recent days. So Israelis are not alone. But many feel alone — perceiving that an increasing number of Europeans and Americans see them not as a tiny nation on the front lines in a global conflict against jihadism, but as bullies culpable for the war being waged against them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Do not call what happened 13 years ago this week a tragedy. It was a terrorist atrocity, an act of war and a war crime. These are very different.

The self-proclaimed jihadis responsible for hijacking commercial jets and using them as missiles targeted the World Trade Center because it was a Western financial capital, a place where men and women of many ethnicities and religions worked in peace to create prosperity. Another plane was flown into the Pentagon — the brains of the greatest liberation army the world has even known. One more jet was meant to hit the political heart of the Free World — the Capitol or the White House — but Americans on that flight refused to surrender and thereby won a battle.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Israeli waiting game

Gazans may grow weary of supplying cannon fodder for Hamas

Hamas wants to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible. It’s been doing all it can to achieve that objective, for example, launching missiles at Israel’s international airport and constructing tunnels to infiltrate terrorists into Israeli communities for the purpose of slaughtering and hostage-taking.

Israelis want to kill as few Palestinian civilians as possible. They’ve been doing all they can to achieve that — no nation under attack has ever done more. For example, they warn noncombatants of impending strikes on military targets by phoning, texting, leafleting and even dropping dummy bombs.…  Seguir leyendo »

I pay lots of taxes. Some of my money supports U.S. special forces, and that pleases me. I have no problem helping fund the U.S. Park Service or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I am, however, a tad uneasy about my tax dollars — and yours — going to support terrorists.

You think I’m joking? The U.S. government gives more than $400 million a year to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Last week, the Israeli prime minister’s office presented figures on the PA’s payments to terrorists imprisoned in Israel: In 2011-12, the PA’s Ministry of Prisoners Affairs transferred $150 million to imprisoned terrorists, released terrorists and the families of terrorists.…  Seguir leyendo »

“America cannot do a damn thing.”

A banner displaying that slogan adorned the stage of an elegant mausoleum in Tehran where Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appeared last week. Negotiations to conclude a deal ending Western sanctions on the Islamic republic, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, in exchange for a verifiable halt to its nuclear weapons program, are now in a critical phase with a new round of talks to begin Monday in Geneva. At this moment, it would make sense for Iran’s rulers to soothe and reassure their American interlocutors. Why are they provoking and taunting them instead?…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, more than a hundred Nigerian students, girls between 15 and 18 years of age, were kidnapped by the al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists of Boko Haram. Most of the girls are still being held. That should be a big story, don’t you think?

Few major-league journalists do. The United Nations has not been moved to rhetoric, much less action. American and European feminists haven’t mobilized. As I write this, the abductions are not featured on the websites of Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch. “In the News” on the Congressional Black Caucus’ website features instead: “Black lawmakers appeal to Pentagon over hairstyle ban.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Almost a hundred years ago, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the last in a succession of Islamic caliphates stretching back more than a millennium, transformed the Middle East — first, into European protectorates, later into a collection of independent nation-states.

A second historic transformation — not just the blossoming of a sunshiny “Arab Spring” — is now underway.

Start with Syria which, as it enters the fourth year of a grueling civil war — 140,000 killed and 9 million refugees to date — has fractured into three de facto entities.

Bashar Assad, backed by Iran’s Islamist regime, holds power in the west, his military bolstered by elite units of Iran’s own Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as well as fighters from Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanon-based foreign legion.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not happy. The government he backed in Ukraine has collapsed. The Ukrainian leader he favored, Viktor Yanukovych is on the run, accused of the “mass murder” of protesters.

I am not so bold as to predict what Mr. Putin will do next. That he will take action — perhaps very bold action — should be the working assumption of American policy planners.

On one level, Mr. Putin is a simple man: He likes to hunt, fish and ride horses bareback. Those who cross him end up in cages in Siberia — or worse. Employing Machiavellian principles, he has become, over the past 15 years, a neo-czar.…  Seguir leyendo »