Unhappy with Obama, Saudi Arabia refuses UN security council seat (Update)

**Posted by Phineas

"Not happy"

“Not happy”

Oh, they said it was because of the general ineffectiveness of he United Nations in the various crises in the region, but, really, the KSA is ticked off at the Obama administration for its bumbling mishandling of Syria, Iran, Egypt, Iran, and Iran. (You might notice a bit of a focus in the Saudi estimation of their security needs. If you guessed “Iran,” take a cigar from the humidor.) This has Walter Russell Mead rightly concerned, and he helpfully points out the many ways an angry Saudi Arabia could make life miserable for Team Smart Power:

It remains unclear to us whether the Obama administration has for its part thought through the full consequences (1) of a serious rift with the Saudis. It’s possible the administration thinks there is little they can actually do, and it’s also possible that they calculate that the costs of making the Saudis happy are not worth paying (getting tougher on Iran, distancing from the Muslim Brotherhood, and foregoing the ultimate dream of a democratic Arab Middle East).

There are not many signs of order and coherence in US Middle East policy at the moment, so there is at least the possibility that the White House hasn’t really thought through just what the Saudis could do that would make us unhappy. That would be a mistake. The Saudis have a lot of weight in Pakistan and could make things easier or harder for us there. They have a lot of influence particularly among the hard core Islamists and in the nuclear program. It’s worth thinking about what that could mean. Also, as US dependence on Middle East oil decreases, China looms larger as a customer for the Saudis, and there are a number of favors those countries could do for each other that would make life more complicated for American foreign policy.

Consider this a second warning shot from the Saudis, the first being their flirtation with Moscow. As I wrote at the time:

We are witnessing the growing collapse of American influence throughout a region crucial to our security, and our rivals will be sure to pick up the slack. This isn’t just the loss of a few years’ work: this is the crumbling of a geopolitical position that’s taken 70 years to build. And it’s all due to the stunning ineptitude of Barack Obama and the Hundred Acre Wood school of foreign affairs. They are leading us toward a major disaster.

We’re in the best of hands.

There’s more at Via Meadia.

Footnote:
(1) “…thought through…?” The team that couldn’t foresee a need to have an emergency reaction force handy for the consulate in Benghazi, in the middle of an al Qaeda recruiting ground — with the anniversary of 9-11 approaching? Why on Earth would anyone think that?

UPDATE: Slight mistake based on my misreading of Mead’s post. Saudi Arabia didn’t quit the UN Security Council, but the did refuse a seat on it, to almost everyone’s shock. I’ve corrected the subject.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Obama foreign policy success: Saudis want to cut deal with Russians

**Posted by Phineas

Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

This is truly impressive. Day after day, I can sit back and watch as the American position in the Mideast and North Africa heads into the abyss.

Our Thelma and Louise ride over the cliff began quietly, with Obama turning the key and slapping our allies in Israel and embracing the Islamist premier of Turkey (But what’s a revived caliphate among friends?); he accelerated through his studied silence during the 2009 democratic revolt in Iran, thus emboldening the mullahs; he went into high gear during the Pee-Wee President’s Big Libyan Adventure that ended with the death of a US ambassador and al Qaeda looting Qaddafi’s armories; and he absolutely floored it during the so-called Arab Spring as we found ourselves, after he first dithered like some obscure Illinois state senator,  supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al Qaeda-aligned rebels in Syria.

And now, for some reason, our long-term clients in the region seem to have decided we are untrustworthy (or barking mad) and are looking to make their own arrangements.

Via Walter Russell Mead:

[Prince] Bandar [bin Sultan al-Saud] discussed the potential cooperation between the two countries if an understanding could be reached on a number of issues, especially Syria. He discussed at length the matter of oil and investment cooperation, saying, “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets. … We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas present in the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to Cyprus through Lebanon and Syria. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area as well as in the areas of establishing refineries and petrochemical industries. The kingdom can provide large multi-billion-dollar investments in various fields in the Russian market. What’s important is to conclude political understandings on a number of issues, particularly Syria and Iran….

The key to the relations between our two countries starts by understanding our approach to the Syrian issue. So you have to stop giving [the Syrian regime] political support, especially at the UN Security Council, as well as military and economic support. And we guarantee you that Russia’s interests in Syria and on the Mediterranean coast will not be affected one bit. In the future, Syria will be ruled by a moderate and democratic regime that will be directly sponsored by us and that will have an interest in understanding Russia’s interests and role in the region.”

Yes, you read that right. Our Saudi allies (1), whose patron we’ve been since FDR’s day, now want an “arrangement” with Putin’s Russia. In return for playing along with Saudi policy in Syria, Russian interests will be protected and, oh, the Saudis will cooperate on price-fixing. (Russian oil being expensive to extract, they need high prices to make it worthwhile. The regime is utterly dependent on oil.) And the American role in all this?

[Silence]

Exactly.

WRM’s comment:

This is jaw-dropping stuff, to say the least. Nothing was signed in this closed-door meeting between Putin and Bandar—Putin requested time for both countries to look into the specifics of such a deal. But the mere fact that our allies felt like they needed to go this route signals that something is seriously awry in President Obama’s Middle East approach.

Putin probably requested time because he was too busy pinching himself to make sure this wasn’t a dream. It’s an opening for a return to influence in the Middle East that the Russians have been looking for since the Soviet Union fell apart.

As usual, the gentle Dr. Mead speaks volumes via understatement. We are witnessing the growing collapse of American influence throughout a region crucial to our security, and our rivals will be sure to pick up the slack. This isn’t just the loss of a few years’ work: this is the crumbling of a geopolitical position that’s taken 70 years to build. And it’s all due to the stunning ineptitude of Barack Obama and the Hundred Acre Wood school of foreign affairs. They are leading us toward a major disaster.

And we’ve got three more years of this? I need a drink…

Footnote:
(1) Yeah, I know. Many Saudis donate to al Qaeda and other groups, and the Kingdom itself is an aggressive pusher of Islamic supremacism. But, when it came to Mideast geopolitics and security, they knew which side their bread was buttered on. And now they’re looking for a new baker.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#BostonBombing: Did the Saudis warn us ahead of time in writing? UPDATE: Saudi denial?

**Posted by Phineas

UPDATE: I’m sticking this at the top because the story’s important enough to warrant it.  Now we have a “Saudi official” saying there was a letter, and their embassy in Washington saying no, there wasn’t. So, who’s lying, and why? (via Toby Harnden)

The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. today denied its government warned the U.S. about accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

According to a highly placed source who spoke to MailOnline, the Saudis sent a written warning about Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012. That was long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds.

The official told MailOnline about a written warning from the Saudi government to the Department of Homeland Security, and said he had direct knowledge of that document.

But the Middle Eastern nation’s embassy in Washington denied that account on Wednesday.

It issued a statement which read: ‘The Saudi government had no prior information about the Boston bombers. Therefore, it is not true that any information, written or otherwise, was passed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or any other US agency in this regard,’ an embassy statement statement claimed.

‘The Saudi government also does not have any record of any application by Tamerlan Tsarnaev for any visa to Saudi Arabia.’

Original article follows.

If this is true, our intelligence services and the White House have a boatload of explaining to do:

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a written warning about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012, long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds, according to a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document.

The Saudi warning, the official told MailOnline, was separate from the multiple red flags raised by Russian intelligence in 2011, and was based on human intelligence developed independently in Yemen.

Citing security concerns, the Saudi government also denied an entry visa to the elder Tsarnaev brother in December 2011, when he hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the source said. Tsarnaev’s plans to visit Saudi Arabia have not been previously disclosed.

The Saudis’ warning to the U.S. government was also shared with the British government. ‘It was very specific’ and warned that ‘something was going to happen in a major U.S. city,’ the Saudi official said during an extensive interview.

It ‘did name Tamerlan specifically,’ he added. The ‘government-to-government’ letter, which he said was sent to the Department of Homeland Security at the highest level, did not name Boston or suggest a date for his planned attack.

If true, the account will produce added pressure on the Homeland Security department and the White House to explain their collective inaction after similar warnings were offered about Tsarnaev by the Russian government.

DHS pretty much denies the whole thing, but the article reports two meetings between high-ranking Saudi and US officials: the first between Obama and the Saudi Interior Minister in January, while the second was an unscheduled meeting between Obama and the Saudi Foreign Minister two days after the marathon bombing. One almost gets the impression of Saudi officials pleading “Look do we have to draw you guys a picture? We’ve been telling you to look out for this crazy Chechen!”

But… let’s not jump the gun, here. This story comes from a single Saudi source, and there are reasons both to believe and not believe it.

In favor: While not best friends, the Saudis have been a close ally against jihad terrorism, having experienced it themselves and given that al Qaeda has declared open season on the government. They’ve also provided reliable information in the past: the article mentions the “printer cartridge plot” and Richard Reid, the “shoe-bomber” as examples. And while the Yemen connection seems out of left field, it has come up in connection with the Tsarnaevs before (h/t Hot Air), and the Saudis are deeply involved in Yemen. Warning us, besides being the decent thing to do, would also be in the Kingdom’s best interests to curry favor with D.C.

On the other hand: The Saudi government may not be a state sponsor of terrorism against the West, but it provides support to Salafi and jihad groups around the world, prominent wealthy Saudis donate directly to jihad groups, and high-ranking religious figures in the Kingdom urge their young men (of whom they have way too many to gainfully employ) to go wage jihad against the infidel. (1) It’s a open dirty secret of this modern age. And so it could be very tempting for the Saudis to claim “We tried to tell you,” hoping to earn some credit from the many Americans upset with the Obama administration and divert attention (again) from their own involvement with jihad.

For now, I lean toward this being true, at least to some degree: the Saudis may have warned us, but perhaps the information wasn’t nearly as cut and dried as they make it out to be. And I find it hard to imagine they’d claim “We told the British, too,” knowing the UK could falsify their claim at the drop of a hat. On top of that, it looks like we may have been making some of the same kind of mistakes we made before 9/11 with overly compartmentalized information that isn’t shared in a timely manner with all concerned parties. Shades of the “Gorelick Wall.”

And if this is true, even to a limited degree, it looks like another example of fatally stupid incompetence on the part of an administration that just wishes terrorism would go away.

Newsflash: It won’t.

Footnote:
(1)You might recall there were regular reports of young Saudi men being urged to go fight us in Iraq. Basically, they’re happy to send these nuts anywhere to get killed, as long as they’re out of Saudi Arabia.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

What’s going on with that Saudi “person of interest/no interest?”

**Posted by Phineas

I’m not the greatest fan of Glenn Beck (1), but I do think he’s asking some good questions about the Saudi national who, on the day of the Boston Marathon bombing, was held as a “person of interest,” but then declared a nobody but, hey, we’re going to deport him anyway:

Background points:

  • A Saudi national originally identified as a “person of interest” in the Boston Marathon bombing was set to be deported under section 212 3B — “Security and related grounds” — “Terrorist activities” after the bombing
  • As the story gained traction, TheBlaze’s Chief Content Officer Joel Cheatwood received word that the government may not deport the Saudi national, originally identified as Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refused to answer questions on the subject when confronted by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) on Capitol Hill.
  • An ICE official said a different Saudi national is in custody, but is “in no way” connected to the bombings.
  • A congressional source, however, says that the file on Alharbi was created, that he was “linked” in some way to the Boston bombings (though it is unclear how), and that documents showing all this have been sent to Congress.
  • Key congressmen of the Committee on Homeland Security request a classified briefing with Napolitano
  • Fox News’ Todd Starnes reports that Alharbi was allegedly flagged on a terrorist watch list and granted a student visa without being properly vetted.  Sources close to the investigation also told him the Saudi is still set for deportation.
  • New information provided to TheBlaze reveals Alharbi’s file was altered early Wednesday evening to disassociate him from the initial charges
  • Sources say the Saudi’s student visa specifically allows him to go to school in Findlay, Ohio, though he appears to have an apartment in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Sources tell us this will most likely now be kicked from the DHS to the DOJ and labeled an ongoing investigation that can no longer be discussed.

Beck also notes that the FBI started changing their story about Alharbi after a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi Foreign Minister on Tuesday, the day after the bombing. Coincidence? Perhaps, but it still rates a raised eyebrow and a “hmmm…”

Read the rest of the article, but here’s something that especially intrigues me:

Beck proceeded to highlight the background of the Saudi national first identified as a “person of interest” in the Boston bombings, Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, noting that the the NTC issued an event file calling for his deportation using section 212, 3B which is proven terrorist activity.

“We are not sure who actually tagged him as a ’212 3B,’ but we know it is very difficult to charge someone with this — it has to be almost certain,” Beck explained.  “It is the equivalent in civil society of charging someone with premeditated murder and seeking the death penalty — it is not thrown around lightly.”

(…)

Then, on Wednesday, President Obama had a “chance” encounter with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud and Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.

“Wednesday at 5:35 p.m. the file is altered,” Beck said.  “This is unheard of, this is impossible in the timeline due to the severity of the charge….You don’t one day put a 212 3B charge against somebody with deportation, and then the next day take it off.  It would require too much to do it.”

“There are only two people that could revoke the deportation order — the director of the NTC could do it after speaking with each department, the FBI, the ATC, etc. — which is impossible to do in such a short period of time, — or, somebody at the very highest levels of the State Department could do it.  We don’t have any evidence to tell you which one did it,” Beck said.

So we have reports of two high-level meetings, after which the FBI says they have no interest in the guy and they’re going to deport him, presumably back to Saudi, where the press will never find him.

I’d say yes, this does raise serious questions, and Republicans on the relevant committees are demanding answers. If the 3B charge is as serious as Beck indicates, then who put it on and on what grounds, and then who removed it and, again, on what grounds? And why is the guy being deported? Minor visa violation? Please.

There’s another reason why I take this Alharbi story more seriously than I might, normally. Saudi Arabia is well known as a source of funding for jihad-terror groups worldwide, including the Caucasus regions that Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited for over six months. Wealthy Saudis will fund jihad as a religious duty –as I recall, supporting it with money is second only to actually doing it– to further the spread of Islam. It’s one of the big problems in the relations between the Kingdom and the United States.

So here’s a speculation based on a hunch with no evidence to back it up, but which seems to fit with past behavior: What if Alharbi, whose background is unknown as of this writing, is a family member of some wealthy, connected Saudi? And what if Alharbi was funneling money to the Tsarnaev brothers? After all, they had no means of support that I know of, yet they were apparently well-trained for this operation and had all the hardware they needed. And just how did Tamerlan pay for that trip and six-month sojourn in Dagestan? Could it be then that an influential relative used his influence with the Saudi government to influence the US government to let their boy go, in the name of “good relations?”

Like I said, the Alharbi affair raises lots of good questions. There may be perfectly reasonable answers, but too much smells in this chain of events to just let it go. House Republicans should continue to press until they get the answers.

via Jihad Watch

Footnote:
(1) Beck’s done some good work in the past, but he too often runs off the emotional rails for my taste, making almost everything seem some sort of existential threat to the republic.  Still, in this case, he may be on to something.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Egyptian Muslim cleric threatens Copts with genocide

**Posted by Phineas

It’s that Religion of Peace-thing, you know:

Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-heavy constitution as products of Egypt’s Christians. Recently, Muslim Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazy said in an open rally, as captured on video:

“A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church — by Allah, and again, by Allah — if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter…. our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him.”

More recently, Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim — who earlier praised Allah for the death of the late Coptic Pope Shenouda, cursing him to hell and damnation on video — made another video, entitled, “A Notice and Warning to the Crusaders in Egypt,” a reference to the nation’s Copts, which he began by saying, “You are playing with fire in Egypt, I swear, the first people to be burned by the fire are you [Copts].” The video was made in the context of the Tahrir protests against Morsi: Islamic leaders, such as Hegazy and Ghoneim, seek to portray the Copts as dominant elements in those protests; according to them, no real Muslim would participate. Ghoneim even went on to say that most of the people at the protests were Copts, “and we know you hid your [wrist] crosses by lowering your sleeves.”

The heart of Ghoneim’s message was genocidal: “The day Egyptians — and I don’t even mean the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafis, regular Egyptians — feel that you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the earth. I’m warning you now: do not play with fire!”

And to make that genocide even easier to carry out, he dehumanized them by comparing them to animals:

“Respect yourselves and live with us and we will protect you… Why?… because Allah has forbidden me to be cruel to animals. I’m not trying to compare you to animals … but if I am not cruel to animals or plants, shall I be cruel to a soul created by Allah? You are an infidel in Allah’s sight — and it is for him to judge you. However, when you live in my country, it is forbidden for me to be unjust to you — but that doesn’t mean we are equal. No, oh no.”

Ghoneim can weasel all he wants, but the idea is clearly planted. Copts are inferior, maybe even animals, and if they don’t act like good little dhimmis… If you noticed a resemblance to Germany in the 1930s, your mind wasn’t playing tricks on you.

The Coptic Christmas falls on January 7th this year. You can imagine what a merry season it is for them.

And speaking of Christmas, Islam’s birthplace (maybe…) demonstrated its dedication to tolerance for all by arresting 44 people who were engaged in a hideous plot.

They were planning to celebrate Christmas:

In the latest kingdom-wide crackdown on those who would violate the national religious policy of Islam only, Saudi Vice and Virtue Police arrested 44 on charges of plotting to celebrate Christmas, as reported on Dec. 27, 2012 by the Beirut-based Al-Akhbar news portal.

The raid took place in the northwest province of al-Jawf, at the private residence of an individual identified only as “an Asian diplomat.”

The fiends… It’s a good thing the watchful officers of the Vice and Virtue police were on the job. Who knows what might have happened? They might have sung carols, exchanged good wishes and presents, said a prayer or two — someone might have had a good time!!

Is it any wonder, in the kind of society that develops under Sharia law, that people can speak of another of the world’s major religions, Christianity, as being the most persecuted on the planet and even in danger of extinction in the lands of its birth?

A merry Christmas season and a happy New Year, indeed.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Religion of Misogyny: Saudi Arabia tracks wives’ movements, reports to husbands

**Posted by Phineas

Equality in slavery

But don’t you dare say Islam doesn’t respect women:

As of last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Saudi women’s rights activist Manal al-Sherif, who last year urged women to defy a driving ban, said a man had contacted her to say he had received a text from the immigration authorities while at the airport with his wife.

“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said Saudi author and journalist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the kingdom.

“This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned,” she added.

Under laws influenced by the strict Wahabi interpretation of Islam, women are not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia without permission from their male guardian (a husband, father or brother), who must give consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

The article mentions the mockery this new rule has received from women and some men, but it’s supported by the Wahabi religious establishment, which is a lynchpin of the monarchy, so that makes it the law.

What’s next? A fatwa mandating electric shock collars for disobedient wives?

RELATED: More on the wonderful state of women under Sharia.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Saudi woman tells religious police to “drop dead”

**Posted by Phineas

The Saudi muttawa are the kingdom’s religious police, there to promote virtue and prevent vice — as defined by totalitarian, repressive, misogynistic Sharia law. It’s such a wonderful organization that, in order to preserve the virtue of young girls not properly dressed, they prevented their escape from a burning building, letting them die.

Lovely people, no?

Anyway, and on a much lighter note, some “mutts” tried to tell a Saudi woman to leave a mall when she (if I understand the situation correctly) wanted to try on nail polish where men might see it –THE HORROR!!

The lady, on the other hand, would have none of it:

Heh. What’s the Arabic for “You go, girl!” ?

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The foiled bomb plot: great news, but…

**Posted by Phineas

On the one hand, this is great news: We infiltrated Al Qaeda’s Arabian subsidiary [AQAP] and kept a lot of people from being killed, while at the same time delivering flaming justice to one of the masterminds of the attack on the USS Cole:

The CIA takedown of an Al Qaeda plot to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner involved an international sting operation with a double agent tricking terrorists into handing over a prized possession: a new bomb purportedly designed to slip through airport security.

U.S. officials Tuesday described an operation in which Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, working closely with the CIA, used an informant to pose as a would-be suicide bomber. His job was to persuade Al Qaeda bomb makers in Yemen to give him the bomb.

After weeks operating undercover in Yemen, the double agent arranged to deliver the device and a trove of vital intelligence to U.S. and other authorities waiting in another country, officials said. He is now safely out of Yemen.

Experts are analyzing the device at the FBI’s bomb laboratory at Quantico, Va., to determine whether it could evade current security systems. Officials said it appears to have a more advanced triggering device than that of the so-called underwear bomb that fizzled instead of exploding aboard a packed passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

U.S. officials said President Obama was informed of the bomb in early April and was assured that it did not pose a threat to the public. Officials emphasized that the terrorists had not chosen a target or purchased air tickets, and that the plot to blow up an airliner never reached the operational stage.

And, according to the Washington Post:

The most recent strike killed an alleged operations planner wanted in connection with the attack on the USS Cole warship in Yemen in 2000. U.S. officials said that Fahd al-Quso was probably involved in directing the plot but that the drone strike was ordered because of his larger role in AQAP.

So, latest underwear bomb plot foiled, double-agent safe, we got our hands on Al Qaeda’s latest toys, and a terrorist murderer brave jihadi got the payback he so richly deserved. What’s not to like, right?

Well, there’s what’s on that other hand…

Don’t get me wrong; this is great news, and the CIA and Saudi intelligence service deserve pats on the back. But…

Why are we hearing about this at all??

One of the greatest secrets you can have in intelligence work –especially when dealing with a deadly enemy– is that you’ve compromised their security. That you’ve cracked their codes, found their safe houses, planted a bug in their meetings, slipped a mole deep inside… so many things. You want them kept secret because you can exploit the advantage again and again, disrupting and demoralizing your enemy because they can’t figure out how you’re always one step ahead. These are secrets you go to your grave with, because, once blown, they’re useless.

So, I ask again: Why are we being told this? The LA Times article provides a hint:

U.S. intelligence officials had planned to keep the bomb sting secret, a senior official said, but the Associated Press learned of the operation last week. The AP delayed posting the story at the request of the Obama administration, but then broke the news Monday.

“When the AP got it and started talking about it, it caused all kinds of problems with the operation,” said a U.S. official who would not be quoted by name discussing the classified operation. “The investigation never went to its full conclusion.”

AP spokesman Paul Colford said the news agency held off publishing until U.S. officials told the AP that security concerns were allayed.

“We were told on Monday that the operation was complete and that the White House was planning to announce it Tuesday,” he said.

So we have two different stories. In one, the AP learns about the operation and, with security compromised, the government felt it might as well tell, since the information was going to come out, anyway. It’s a common story.

In the other, AP waited, found out the administration was going to open up on Tuesday, and so decided to get its story out, first.

Call me a cynic, but the second seems much more plausible. Remember that this is the same administration that, after killing bin Laden, didn’t want to be seen “spiking the ball.” Now, a year later and with a difficult reelection campaign underway, the president and his minions are running around doing the “Gutsy Call” end-zone dance like a NFL rookie scoring his first touchdown. With the economy in the crapper and the public mood so bad that even a convicted felon gives Obama a run for his money in a Democratic primary, Obama needs all the good news he can get.

You can bet on it: The One and his team couldn’t wait to brag about this. And all it cost was letting AQAP know just how much we had penetrated them.

Final thought: What was the “opportunity cost” of this latest bit of chest-thumping? Are there any more of these newest bombs out there? Other plots in the offing? How much are we now not going to learn of because AQAP will surely change their security measures?

Sometimes, silence really is golden.

PS: And lest we forget, they’re still trying to kill us.

LINKS: More from Hot Air.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Why we need sharia law: letting women drive will make men gay

**Posted by Phineas

We approach the end of 2011 with perhaps the best news headline of the year, courtesy of the UK’s Daily Mail:

Saudis fear there will be ‘no more virgins’ and people will turn gay if female drive ban is lifted

Repealing a ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia would result in ‘no more virgins’, the country’s religious council has warned.

A ‘scientific’ report claims relaxing the ban would also see more Saudis – both men and women – turn to homosexuality and pornography.

The startling conclusions were drawn by Muslim scholars at the Majlis al-Ifta’ al-A’ala, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, working in conjunction with Kamal Subhi, a former professor at the King Fahd University.

According to esteemed researcher Dr. Subhi, the terrible social cost of letting women drive can already be seen in other Arab countries:

And it pointed out ‘moral decline’ could already be seen in other Muslim countries where women are allowed to drive.

In the report Professor Subhi described sitting in a coffee shop in an unnamed Arab state.

‘All the women were looking at me,’ he wrote. ‘One made a gesture that made it clear she was available… this is what happens when women are allowed to drive.’

Poor guy. Loose women in their cars are constantly prowling the streets, looking for pure Islamic men to corrupt with their feminine wiles, bucket seats, and satellite radio. O tempora! O mores!!

Where has morality gone?

Good thing we have sharia law to guard us from temptation and keep women in their places.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Dear Iran: “Of course you know, this means war!” — Updated

**Posted by Phineas

Or, it would, if we had an administration with the spine of a Warner Bros. cartoon character.

ABC broke the news yesterday of an Iranian assassination plot foiled by the FBI and the DEA:

The new case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a DEA informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.

The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of the feared Zetas Mexican drug organization, according to agents.

The DEA office in Houston brought in FBI agents as the international terror implications of the case became apparent.

The Iranian-American, identified by federal officials as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, reportedly claimed he was being “directed by high-ranking members of the Iranian government,” including a cousin who was “a member of the Iranian army but did not wear a uniform,” according to a person briefed on the details of the case.

Arbabsiar and a second man, Gohlam Shakuri, an Iranian official, were named in a five-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday afternoon in federal court in New York. They were charged with conspiracy to kill a foreign official and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, a bomb, among other counts. Shakuri is still at large in Iran, Holder said.

Holder identified Shakuri as an Iran-based member of the Quds force, a much feared special unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The Treasury sanctions named several other members of the Iranian Quds force as well.

Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, expressed “utter disregard for collateral damage” in the planned bomb attacks in Washington, according to officials.

The complaint describes a conversation in which Arbabsiar was allegedly directing the informant to kill the Saudi ambassador and said the assassination could take place at a restaurant. When the informant feigned concern about Americans who also eat at the restaurant, Arbabsiar said he preferred if bystanders weren’t killed but, “Sometimes, you know, you have no choice, is that right?”

BTW, that same restaurant is known to be frequented by US senators. But, hey, sometimes “you have no choice.” Argentina was also discussed as a target, a country Iran has attacked before in their desire to kill Jews.

There’s no doubt this is a casus belli — “a cause of war.” The Iranian government has been caught red-handed organizing a terrorist operation on US soil, an operation that would not only have killed foreigners under our protection but, very likely, American citizens. And the flippant dismissal of the prospect of killing government officials makes this an attack on our government, too. While there’s no direct evidence that Khamenei or Ahmadinejad knew about this in advance, well… yeah, right. Their prime foreign covert operations agency, the Quds Force, plans an attack on the territory of the Great Satan (that’s us), and the Big Nuts in the Iranian fruitcake don’t know about it?

Like I said, “yeah, right.”

But, don’t worry, the Obama Administration is not planning any military retaliation, true to its “September 10th” values:

That a foreign government would plot to kill a foreign leader on American soil could be seen as an act of war, but Obama administration officials say the path the U.S. government will purse will align with American interests – and a military response and possible armed conflict with a third Muslim nation would not be part of that. (Though, it should be noted, the official White House position is “no option is off the table.”)

This afternoon the Treasury Department announced further sanctions against Iran, and in coming days diplomats at the United Nations and elsewhere will discuss further ways to isolate Iran, while American officials will spread far and wide throughout the region that the Iranian government was planning to kill an Arab leader.

In other words, we’re going to treat this as a law-enforcement matter, lay down sanctions, and run around telling the Arabs what they already know: that the mullahs are a bunch of dangerous psychos.

That’ll have Tehran quaking in its boots. Probably from laughing at us.

It may seem odd for me to quote Osama bin Laden, but one thing he said was very true, at least as far as life in the Muslim world goes:

“When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”

This is us playing the weak horse, whining when someone uses our land to carry out terror attacks. Other dictators around the world (and the people who have to live under or near them) will see this and act accordingly, as Iraq is now doing.

Let’s be honest: Iran has been at war with us since 1979, but we’ve failed to recognize this and act accordingly. Even a president as great as Reagan had a blind spot when it came to Iran and thought he could reach a grand bargain, and Bush failed to take strong action against Syria and Iran when they sponsored the guerrilla war against us in Iraq from 2004-2008. So Obama isn’t the first to naively believe that restraint would be seen as anything other than weakness.

But it’s time for it to stop.

The naked truth is that Iran is killing our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether directly or indirectly, it doesn’t matter. Their puppets Hizbullah and Hamas attack our ally, Israel. They are waging war against us (this attack was meant as much to humiliate us as to strike at the Saudis) and have taken that war to our homeland. It’s time to stop wagging our fingers in disapproval and instead punch back — hard.

Lest someone accuse me of being a warmonger, I’m not advocating invading Iran or sinking their navy in retaliation, as emotionally satisfying as that might be. We don’t have to in order to defeat them. As Michael Ledeen has often pointed out (most recently here), the Iranian regime’s grip on power is brittle; their people hate them; they face frequent rebellion and acts of sabotage. If we simply had the moral clarity and political courage to provide the peoples of Iran with the political, propaganda, and logistical support to wage their own struggle against the tyrants, as Reagan did in Poland against the Soviets, we could win without firing a shot.

Instead, we do the diplomatic equivalent of writing them a speeding ticket.

That’s no way to win a war.

CYNICAL THOUGHT: Funny how this news breaks just as AG Holder and the administration are facing close scrutiny for the Gunwalker scandal. There’s no evidence I’ve seen that this plot had gone operational and had to be stopped now. Hmmm….

LINKS: Three must-read articles at The Long War Journal and Threat Matrix. JustOneMinute thinks Holder learned a lesson. Fausta talks about the mounting threat in Latin America from Hizbullah, an Iranian cats-paw. Let’s not forget, the Iranians tried to run this plot through Mexican drug cartels. Still think that border is secure, Mr. President? Power Line notes the “axis of evil” between Iran and Los Zetas. This isn’t just about immigration — this is a national security issue.

UPDATE: Former federal prosecutor (And no fan of Obama and Holder) Andy McCarthy puts my cynical thought to rest — a frame-up makes no sense.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)