On August 20, 2012 President Obama warned against chemical weapons' use in Syria, declaring it a "red line." On Dec. 3, 2012, Obama repeated his warning to Assad, saying "The use of chemical weapons is...totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable."
Last April, Britain, France and Israel concluded that chemical weapons had been used in Syria. On June 13, the Obama administration finally concluded that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians.
But nothing happened after that -- except a conclusion by the Syrian regime that it can continue to use such weapons with impunity. Indeed, United Nations Middle East envoy Robert Serry claimed in July that the United Nations had received 13 reports of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria. On August 21, Assad gassed to death 1,429 civilians. more >>
Egyptian judges have recommended the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic organization behind ousted President Mohamed Morsi, as hundreds of its members have been arrested for leading the protests against the interim government, which has caused clashes resulting in hundreds of deaths.
The panel of judges accused the Brotherhood of operating outside the law, The Associated Press reported, and recommended that its headquarters in Cairo be closed down – the same headquarters that were attacked by anti-Morsi protesters in early July.
Morsi has not been heard from since he was ousted by Egypt's military, but reports note that he is being held in detention at an undisclosed location. more >>
After constant exposure to critically important news, it begins to lose all meaning and sense of urgency. Hearing the same warnings over and over again-especially when the status quo seems static-can cause a certain desensitization, a resigned apathy that ignores the warnings in the wishful hope that they won't materialize. This hope becomes more optimistic (and passive) with each passing day that the warnings do not materialize.
One of the most evident examples of this phenomenon is the threat of a nuclear Iran. For years, the international community has been hearing about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons; for years, the world has been hearing Iran make bold, genocidal threats-most notoriously, that it will wipe the state of Israel off the map. But so far, Iran reportedly still has no nukes, and no large attack has been launched on Israel. Thus, many have become desensitized to the situation-including those charged with ensuring that a nuclear Iran never becomes a reality.
But that reality has never been closer, as we are warned in Noah Beck's recent novel, The Last Israelis. It is our current proximity to apocalyptic war that makes Beck's doomsday warning about a nuclear Iran so compelling. If the worst comes to pass, this chilling attempt to rouse the West from its torpor could turn out to be that final, horribly prophetic alert that went unheeded. more >>
Warfare is a very serious business whose first imperative is to deploy force to win – rather than to punish, make a statement, establish a symbolic point, or preen about one's morality.
Yet, these latter are precisely what several Western states will accomplish if they respond to the Syrian government's apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians with "limited" strikes lasting one or two days against fewer than fifty sites. Briefly lobbing American, British, and other missiles against the regime without a concomitant readiness to deploy ground troops will neither overthrow the government nor change the course of the war. It will, however, allow Westerners to feel good about themselves.
It will also entail real dangers. Bashar al-Assad's notorious incompetence means his response cannot be anticipated. Western strikes could, among other possibilities, inadvertently lead to increased regime attacks on civilians, violence against Israel, an activation of sleeper cells in Western countries, or heightened dependence on Tehran. Surviving the strikes also permits Assad to boast that he defeated the United States. more >>
A Christian woman in Pakistan has claimed that she was handed a death sentence simply because she was "thirsty." The mother of five, who is currently in prison on death row, was sentenced to death by hanging in 2009 after being accused of blasphemy – a charge she adamantly denies. She has now released her memoir, "Blasphemy," from prison where she tells her shocking side of the story.
Asia Bibi's case has gained widespread international media attention since she was arrested four years ago on blasphemy charges while working as a fruit-picker in the northeastern area of Pakistan. Bibi co-wrote Blasphemy with French television journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet. The book details her struggles as a Christian in a predominately Muslim land, including her arrest and sentencing to death. Although the book was released in France in 2011, media outlets have recently released excerpts from the book to keep the memory of Bibi's hardship alive, and a new wave of media attention has been drawn to Bibi's case.
Bibi's imprisonment began shortly after July 2009; she was picking fruit in the northeastern area of Pakistan to make extra income for her husband and five children when her life changed forever. Temperatures in the fruit field reached above a sweltering 100 degrees, and Bibi, parched, chose to drink out of the communal well shared with other female-fruit pickers, all of whom were Muslim. The Muslim women objected to Bibi, a Christian, drinking out of the same metal cup as them, arguing that it was "haram," or the Islamic term for anything forbidden by God. more >>
Egypt's 2012 constitution, drafted and adopted under President Morsi, reflected the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamist goals, giving prominence to Sunni sharia and restricting the rights of non-Muslims. As my colleague and Egypt analyst Samuel Tadros observed on NRO last December, it was a "clear setback for religious freedom."
Undermining religious freedom, of course, is not a small matter, not a mere nuisance to a few outliers. In Egypt, Morsi's Islamist constitution helped provoke a popular uprising by a broad range of groups opposed to the state's forcible imposition of Islamism, which in turn led to the military overthrow of the government on July 3.
The constitution was immediately suspended. "Suggested" articles for a new one, determined by a ten-member government-appointed committee, have been drafted and, over the past few days, have leaked out. more >>