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Will Obama’s Principled Pragmatism Be Emulated by His Successor?

by Ehsan Ahrari on July 13, 2016, No Comments

Principled Pragmatism Implemented One of the greatest features of President Barack Obama’s legacy is his exercise of “principled pragmatism.” Fredrik Logevall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Professor of International Relations at Harvard, uses this term to describe Obama’s reluctance to seek military solutions to the conflicts during his two terms. This is an umbrella phrase that also describes Obama’s unique frame of reference, or even his grand strategy, to deal with America’s allies and foes. He has made it clear to our allies that America will not fight a war that they initiate in their own neighborhoods. The United States will examine all evolving crises and determine how each of those crises is affecting America’s vital interests and then determine the course of action regarding them. (more…)
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Ibn Taymiyya Under Public Scrutiny

by Ehsan Ahrari on July 9, 2016, No Comments

In Saudi Arabia, teenaged twins are under government custody for killing their mother.  Her “crime” was that she was stopping them from joining ISIS.  A Saudi writer, Mohammad Ali al-Mahmoud, told Reuters, “Had this [murder of a mother] come from drug addicts or ignorant youth, it would not have been unusual.  The shock is that it came from a pair of religious children acting in the name of Islam.” An additional shocking aspect is that its goes directly against one of the basic doctrines of Islam that requires the respect and honor of parents, especially the mother, by the offspring. Saudi Arabia is currently having “an impassioned debate” of whether the killing of a mother was justified on the basis of the Takfiri doctrine, which was the brainchild of Imam Ibn Taymiyya, “one of Islam’s most forceful theologians, who, as a member of the Pietist school founded by Ibn Ḥanbal.”  The Saudi government is not having any part of blaming Ibn Taymiyya, because Wahhabi
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The Sustained Saudi-US Strategic Rift

by Ehsan Ahrari on April 23, 2016, No Comments

Poor Saudis!  They have become the Rodney Dangerfield of the Persian Gulf, at least for the United States.  They have not been getting any respect from the Obama administration lately.  President Barack Obama, in a highly publicized interview, described the Middle East as a region that cannot be fixed, “not on his watch, and not for a generation to come.”  The Persian Gulf is a case in point.  That is a region where the Saudi-Iranian rivalry is getting hotter.  Since King Salman came to power, he appointed his 30-year-old son, Mohammad, as Defense Minister and the chief manager of his court.  In this latter capacity, he is generally regarded as the power behind the thrown.  The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad Bin Naif, though he holds numerous posts, is not number two in terms of his exercise of power.  Brash Mohammad, it seems, is the second most visible, and ostensibly, the second most influential man in that country.  Personalities are important in authoritarian
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Islamophobia in the West: Playing into the Hands of ISIS

by Ehsan Ahrari on April 18, 2016, No Comments

Fear of Islam and Muslims has been a visible trend since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.  In Europe, this trend was given fictional respectability in the name of freedom of speech.  However, the same alleged commitment to freedom of expression was not applied to those who denied the Holocaust.  The point here is not that anyone should deny the Holocaust.  Rather, the point of emphasis here is the hypocritical application of the selective use of that practice and the related double standard.  The same hypocrisy was applied in various cartoons disrespecting the Prophet of Islam.  For those who only read how capable the Europeans can be about insulting or even hating other religions need no proof other than the frequent nefarious acts of insulting the Prophet and Islam through the drawing of these offensive cartoons. (more…)
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La Marseillaise Versus the Quranic Verse 5:32

by Ehsan Ahrari on November 20, 2015, No Comments

The ISIS-sponsored terrorist attacks of Paris of November 13, 2015 popularized two phenomena.  The first one was the public singing of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, which embodies the free human spirit, even under an environment pregnant with fear, blood, tyranny and their related gore.  The French soccer fans were singing it while exiting the soccer stadium, where the Islamist terrorists had let loose a torrent of bloody attacks on innocent human beings.  They were murdered as revenge for the French government’s air campaign in the ISIS-controlled areas of Syria.  The demented soldiers of ISIS were killing them because they were Christians.  The unnoticed aspect of those murderous attacks was that all human beings in that stadium and elsewhere in Paris—Christians as well as Muslims—were their targets, since they had no clue about the religious identity of any of their victims. (more…)
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Is the ‘Dead’ Arab World Really Waiting to be Led by Iran?

by Ehsan Ahrari on September 15, 2015, No Comments

Reading Boualem Sansal’s recent interview in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, was a stimulating experience. In that interview, Sansal, after depicting the Arab world “in terms of history,” as “dead,” thinks that Iran “is well armed intellectually, scientifically and economically, and could one day lead Islam globally.” He is also of the view that “…soon the Sunni Arabs will accept the domination of Shi’ite Iran, because only Iran enjoys recognition from the West, and even instills fear in it.” He regards Iran’s nuclear program as “proof” of Iranian “capabilities.” He also regards “Western Islam” as a “serious rival” of Iran. Western Islam, in Sansal’s estimation, “too could one day compete for the right to lead the Muslim world.” (more…)
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The Underpublicized Maneuvers of the GCC States

by Ehsan Ahrari on August 16, 2015, No Comments

Leave it to two Israeli writers to make a point, which is mostly missed inside the United States, regarding the diplomatic adroitness and political savviness of the States of the Persian/Arabian Gulf. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the United States last March and tried to embellish the mutuality of interests between the Gulf States and Israel toward the then impending US-Iran nuclear deal, everyone thought that a political nexus between Israel and the Gulf States was in the process of sprouting. (more…)
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Burying the Hatchet is the Precondition for US-Iran Rapprochement

by Ehsan Ahrari on August 13, 2015, No Comments

A lot of ink is being spilled analyzing the pros and cons of the recently concluded US-Iran nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+ 1 countries (4 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), and there is ample show of emotions about this deal involving different actors. The Arab states are upset because they concluded that its successful implementation would lead to an era of US-Iran rapprochement in which Iran, more than the Arab states, would be the focus of America’s attention. The Israelis are mad because they see the emergence of a nuclear Iran in the distant future as a result of it. More to the point, Israel’s Prime Minister , Benyamin Netanyahu, envisions that deal as the first historical step toward bringing about an end to Israel’s own preeminence, related to its nuclear deterrence in the region. A study prepared for the RAND Corporation addresses precisely that point when it notes, “Nuclear weapons would probably reinforce Iran's traditional national secu
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Whose Version of Political Order in the Middle East?

by Ehsan Ahrari on June 16, 2015, No Comments

Given the rising tide of instability and disorder in the Middle East, Henry Kissinger’s longing for a new world order is more real than it is given credit for, everywhere except in the United States and perhaps in Europe.[i]  Such a world order defends the Westphalian principles created in Europe.  The most relevant feature of the Westphalian system for this discussion is that each nation-state exercises sovereignty over its territory and in its conduct of domestic affairs.   Throughout the Cold War years, the United States established an impeccable record of enforcing that principle in its defense of states of Western Europe against a potential encroachment of the Soviet Union. (more…)
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The Pakistan Army’s ‘Perpetual’ War Against India: A Review of C. Christine Fair’s Book, “Fighting to the End”

by Ehsan Ahrari on June 8, 2015, No Comments

The division of the Indian subcontinent into two countries—a larger India and a considerably smaller Pakistan with its East and West Pakistan wings that were about 1,000 miles apart—was anything but a happy story.  Millions of people were either killed or forced to migrate to and from those countries.  Even now, when the events of that blood-drenched tragedy have become a distant memory, both India and Pakistan appear incapable of freeing themselves from the ghosts of those dark days and continue to depict each other as archenemies.  This statement is more correct for Pakistan, because at least India is focused on the enormously intricate task of emerging as a rising power.  Pakistan, on the contrary, is still wallowing in the injustices of the past.  I agree with Ms. Fair that It “Pakistan did get the short end of the stick in terms of the division of fixed assets, because the bulk of the infrastructure was located in India.” (p. 56)  Pakistan “believes that it was dep