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UN Human Rights Commissioner Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — WINEP hosts Countering Violent Extremism and Ideology discussion ]

Addressing the Washington Institute for Near East Policy earlier this month, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Jordanian Ambassador to the United States said of the IS / Daesh “caliphate”:

I think it requires a much deeper sort of analysis than what we often see coming through to us via the media outlets.

He went on to explain what he meant — emphasizing not military force but an Islamic theological response to the Daesh doctrinal claims:

We listened very carefully in Geneva to the remarks made by Walid Muallem, the foreign minister of the Syrian government, and he was dismissive of the efficacy of the airstrikes. Now this is something that I think has to be studied because we have learned from other sources that this may well be the case – or at least, if they were not supplemented by a concerted discussion within the Islamic world to confront, line by line, the thinking of the takfiri groups, that the results may not be what we hope they will be, and fall short of where we want them to be.

The letter that I have alluded to [..] was issued by a hundred and twenty-six Muslim scholars back in September as a response to the July Jumaa sermon issued by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And what I found really quite unfortunate is that this letter which was remarkable, in the sense that it was scholarly, it was backed by Muslim scholars from all over the world, it dealt by each of the points raised in the sermon, rebuttal followed by another rebuttal to each of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s points, that this received far less in the way of media attention than the decisions to launch airstrikes and take very active military operations. Because I felt at the time and still do that this letter needs to be supported and alluded to and spoken about and referred to by politicians in the Islamic world and beyond — not least because if it isn’t shown that the Islamic world is responding, at least from a scholarly angle, then we will continue to see the phenomena we see in Europe and we saw in germany yesterday, of demonstrations basically targeting Islam as a religion, as opposed to the takfiri ideology where the denunciations should be properly be directed.


Here, then, so that we can better grasp these issues as they can be understood within Islam, is the Letter al-Hussein spoke of:


The Letter can also be downloaded as a .pdf. Among the highlights of the Executive Summary:

9. It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslim unless he (or she) openly declares disbelief.
10. It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any ‘People of the Scripture’.
11. It is obligatory to consider Yazidis as People of the Scripture.
12. The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus.
13. It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert.
14. It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights.


For those of you who watch the video of the WINEP discussion, I should warn you that the close captioning is inexcusably poor. I’m betting, eg, that Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein did not say “jihadi nostra” (cute though that might be) when the context clearly suggests “Jabhat al-Nusra”.

Lang, Francona et socii on an Israeli strike

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — a quick recap of Col. Lang & Lt. Col. Francona on the realities of an Israeli strike on Iranian facilities, 2006-2012 — and the recent WaPo trilogy ]

Nuclear and missile sites, 2008, credit: Stratfor

I posted here a while ago about what happens when “religious leaders talk of wiping nations off the map” — quoting the Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei and the Shas Rabbi Ovaida Yosef — and unobtrusively included the question:

Do the logistics back the rhetoric up?

Or so I thought.


Srikanth R of the Takshashila Cyber Strategy Studies team picked up on that supposedly unobtrusive question, though, so maybe it wasn’t so unobtrusive.

The thing is, it’s a solid, material, practical, down to earth realist’s question… and behind it, behind my dropping it into that post, is a memory of Col. Pat Lang, the blogger at Sic Semper Tyrannis, pointing his readers to that question quite a while back, in the form of a post by his one-time DIA deputy, Rick Francona back in 2006. Any “intelligence” in my question is strictly theirs.

I thought then, and I think now, that logistical considerations are as important as potential messianic-mahdist echo-chambers or statements by Israeli intelligence figures or American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to bear in mind when considering the potential for an Israeli attack on Iran.

This is not an area that I consider myself informed about, so I thought I’d check back and see what Lang and Francona have had to say on the issue over the intervening years…


Rick Francona: flight routes, 2006


Here are a bunch of other places where Lang, Francona et socii discuss such matters, in what I believe is a sequence by date:



From that last URL, here’s the most recent map in the series:


And is that all?

Over the last few days the Washington Post has published a three-part “essay” on an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. I’ve already quoted from David Ignatius‘ contribution in a comment on ZP, but that was about a different aspect of the thing. Here are links to the three parts:

Azadeh Moaveni, What if Israel bombed Iran? The view from Tehran
Anat Berko, If Israel bombed Iran, what would life in Tel Aviv be like?
David Ignatius, Lessons from an Iranian war game


Again, let me emphasize that I don’t know about logistics, but that I suspect Col. Lang does. You might think three points of view was enough to get a decent overview of the situation. You might believe that a war game conducted by a cluster of intelligent specialists would be enough…

Just for the record, Col. Lang obviously still thinks we’re missing the point. This is from his Sic Semper Tyrannis blog, today:

A general defect of the thing is the complete ignorance reflected of the actual limitations of distances, weapons, numbers of aircraft and missiles, Iranian air defenses, the lack of any recovery air fields between Israeli bases and the targets or SAR capability for the attacking Israeli force. Basic military knowledge of the situation is ignored in the manner common in politico-military strategic war games. In these “games” any reference to actual limitations are airily waved off as not germane. In this essay it is suggested that one option is for the US to “shoot down’ the attacking Israeli force before it passes beyond Iraq. The Joe Biden character angrily says that this is not an option. He is correct but not for the reason implied. In fact, since the completion of the US withdrawal from Iraq the US has no ability to do such a thing and neither do the Iraqis. The nearest USAF assets are in the Gulf or Turkey and the nearest US Navy assets are where the carriers may be. Look at the distances.



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