While the House of Saud’s grip on political power in Saudi Arabia may appear as firm as ever, the Saudi royal family in fact walks a narrow tightrope, facing threats to their hold on power from both within and without. Indeed, many of the threats “within” interact with threats “without.” Understanding its attempt to maintain power amidst these many threats helps to understand Al Saud’s actions in Yemen, in the oil market, and its recent actions against Qatar. The start of Al Saud’s power, and still its centerpiece, was an 18th Century politico-religious bargain between Muhammad bin Saud and a reforming…
By now, it is a well-established fact that acts of Islamic violence against Western targets are swiftly followed by local surges in reported incidences of anti-Muslim hate crime. The cities of Manchester and London, both of which lately suffered Islamic attacks, have proved no exception.
For most American Christians, Christmas has come and gone. True, some sticklers will keep their trees up until Epiphany, but, for most of us, the routine of daily life has resumed. For most Mideast Christians, though, the holiday is just beginning. Armenian Apostolic Christians will celebrate Christmas, according to ancient custom, on January 6. In Egypt, Coptic Christians, the largest Christian communion in the Mideast, numbering perhaps 12 million, will celebrate on January 7, as will Orthodox Christians in Bethlehem itself. (Mideast Catholics celebrated on December 25, along with their Western counterparts). The traditional processions are scheduled for Manger Square.
For Christians, Christmas is a joyous time. But, for most Mideast Christians this year, the holiday is an uneasy one.
The capability of radical Islamist terrorists claiming fealty to ISIS to attack soft targets here has been painfully demonstrated again, this time in the form of 49 dead and 53 wounded in an attack on a gay nightclub in Florida. The Orlando massacre is now added to ISIS-inspired attacks on Philadelphia (January of this year, 1 police officer shot 3 times); San Bernadino (December 2015, 14 dead, 21 injured); Dallas (May 2015, 1 wounded), New York City (October 2014, hatchet attack on 4 police). The Tsarnaev brothers who killed 3 and wounded 264 in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing also reportedly had ISIS ties.
The Secret History of ISIS aired recently on PBS’s Frontline. This 54-minute feature documentary was created by Michael Kirk, a prolific and highly successful television documentarian with a quiver full of awards to his credit. This documentary, however, is better termed a documonstrosity. It is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who knows anything about the subject, whether from personal experience or old-fashioned learning.
An essential difference between civilization and barbarism is that civilized people conduct politics with words, a precondition of which is that words have objective meanings—they indicate this and not that—and that we are willing to articulate them.