Tag Archives: Iran

A minor indicator of the state of U.S.-Israeli relations under the Obama Administration

President Obama took two days to “congratulate” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his recent re-election, which prompted the New York Times to wonder “whether the [Obama administration’s antagonism toward Netanyahu] represents a lasting foreign policy shift.” Let’s investigate! We’ll begin our studies with Iran, of all places. Consider the following Press Statement published today by the State Department:

Continue reading A minor indicator of the state of U.S.-Israeli relations under the Obama Administration

Why is ISIS threatening Twitter employees with *LIONS*, of all things?

Christian Science Monitor wants to know: Why is ISIS threatening Twitter employees with ‘lions’? Of course, CSM also has the answer:

Supporters of the extremist militant group called for the death of company employees in response to Twitter’s blocking of social media accounts associated with the Islamic State.

That much, I could have guessed. But I clicked on the headline not to find out why ISIS was threatening Twitter employees — after all, does ISIS really need a cause? — but because I was curious: Why lions? And since CSM appears to have been uninterested by that zoological choice, I decided to delve into the question for myself — and now, for you. You’re welcome.

Continue reading Why is ISIS threatening Twitter employees with *LIONS*, of all things?

Does Bibi really belong on this list of 21 world leaders who stifle free speech?

Daniel Wickham made recent headlines for contrasting the presence of 21 world leaders at Sunday’s march in Paris with their actual commitments to a free press. He kicked off the litany as follows —

Continue reading Does Bibi really belong on this list of 21 world leaders who stifle free speech?

The President of Turkey just told a hilarious joke

After VP Joe Biden accused Turkey of having supported many of the forces fighting Bashar al-Assad — including ISIS — that country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan angrily responded, “Turkey has never given even the smallest kind of support to any terror organization.”

That’s the punchline.

Continue reading The President of Turkey just told a hilarious joke

5 ways ISIS is actively reducing its carbon footprint

The ever-insightful Clickhole chimed in last week with a piece titled 5 Ways ISIS Can Reduce Its Carbon Footprint. All you need to know about the piece is right there in the headline, but — if you insist — here is a condensed list of the supplied suggestions:

  1. Purchase carbon offsets
  2. Reduce number of security checkpoints
  3. Avoid setting oil wells on fire
  4. Eat locally
  5. Take public transportation

The exercise was transparently ridiculous — as if anything with the word “Islamic” in the title needs any help going green. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are 5 things the Islamic State is already doing to help reduce the threat of climate change, in no particular order:

Continue reading 5 ways ISIS is actively reducing its carbon footprint

Colbert committed a pretty embarrassing Middle East faux pas

On Tuesday night’s show, in a segment titled The Kinda-Sorta War and the U.S.’s Mysterious Allies, Stephen Colbert turned his attention to Barack Obama’s kinda-sorta war on ISIS, and the mysterious Arab allies his government insists are ready to carry out airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. There was just one problem — check out the graphic he used to illustrate the unidentified Arab partners and see if you can spot it:

Continue reading Colbert committed a pretty embarrassing Middle East faux pas

How not to talk about what happened between Israel and Gaza

There are a lot of perfectly legitimate things to say about what happened this summer between Hamas and Israel. This brief post is in no way meant as a guide to the issue — rather, it is a perfunctory identification of the absolute silliest single way to go about holding such a discussion.

Now, given the focus of this post, I do feel the need to preface: I don’t always read the comments — but when I do, I come to deeply regret it.

A recent article on Huffington Post was somewhat of an exception to that rule. The article in question was titled, “Ceasefires in Which Violations Never Cease” — but don’t click yet — and looked really long and predictable, so I didn’t even bother reading it. Instead, I found myself inexplicably scrolling down to the comments section, just to see how the real battle was going.

I stopped reading after about three comments — not because I could no longer take it, but because I felt compelled to share what I found with you all. Focus on the second comment below — what Ethan Shapiro  had to say is largely beside the point:

Continue reading How not to talk about what happened between Israel and Gaza

Kuwait might want to ask for its money back

Now that ISIS has declared the founding of an Islamic Caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq, I’d like to briefly review the extent to which its success has turned the Middle East upside down.

To wit: After years of embargoes and threats of war, the United States finds itself cozying up to Iran. Israel’s army might soon find itself taking up arms alongside Jordan. Meanwhile, “news” broke two weeks ago that ISIS received a substantial portion of its angel investment from putative American allies. So sayeth The Daily Beast:

As ISIS takes over town after town in Iraq, they are acquiring money and supplies including American made vehicles, arms, and ammunition. The group reportedly scored $430 million this week when they looted the main bank in Mosul. They reportedly now have a stream of steady income sources, including from selling oil in the Northern Syrian regions they control, sometimes directly to the Assad regime.

But in the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime.

OK, so maybe not quite as egregious as the headline promised, “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS“, but moderately disquieting nonetheless. Kuwait, the author noted, was an especially unlikely source of funds for ISIS:

Continue reading Kuwait might want to ask for its money back

Colbert and Stewart make the same joke — and the same mistake

Jon Stewart is listed as an executive producer on The Colbert Report, but that hasn’t always stopped Colbert from repeating jokes that appeared earlier in the evening on The Daily Show. The frequency of awkward repetition has certainly dissipated over the years — whether because of divergent source material or due to concerted effort, I do not know — but it showed up in full force last night, as the adjacent Comedy Central hosts both praised Barack Obama for sending the perfect number of American advisers to advise in opposition to ISIS advances in Iraq. Here’s Stewart, then Colbert: Continue reading Colbert and Stewart make the same joke — and the same mistake

Mondoweiss: wrong on a lot of things, but especially wrong on soccer

I have passing familiarity with Mondoweiss: The War of Ideas in the Middle East, a blog that once described mine as “angry.” I’m not sure that’s the term I would have used, but that’s his opinion and this here’s the internet so that’s that. You get your own opinion on the internet.

But what you do not get is your own facts — and that’s precisely the hat trick Mondoweiss tried to pull while explaining why he, as an American, does not support Team USA.

Now, I have no problem with the author’s lack of support for the boys in red, white, and blue — even active dislike is a step up from the indifference with which the team is greeted by the overwhelming majority of Americans. But I do have a problem with a few of the “facts” he cites to justify his position. To wit, reason #1:

Continue reading Mondoweiss: wrong on a lot of things, but especially wrong on soccer