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Mark Steyn On The Strange Alliances In The Middle East

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EM: Fortunately for us, we have the incomparable Mark Steyn with us today from Welcome to the show, sir.

MS: Hey, great to be with you, Ed.

EM: Great to have you with us, Mark, and breaking news right now, just came through on television here, that there’s a 72 hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Now this is a big development that probably everyone expected to happen eventually, Mark.

MS: Yeah, because there are no long term military goals that can be accomplished when these things happen. Israel had to make sure it took care of the tunnels. The tunnels are a clear and present danger to the state of Israel, and of the rockets that are mysteriously managing to get into the Gaza. Gaza can’t make rockets. They’re getting these rockets from Iran and their other patrons. And so I hope if we’re going to have a ceasefire that Israel has managed to accomplish its relatively short term limited goals here.

EM: And I think that one of the things you can say here is that Israel has at least proven that they can wage a sustained operation in Gaza without losing their own unity and without worrying too much about what world opinion had to say about it. I mean, they’ve been pretty defiant over the last couple of weeks since they discovered the tunnels and the infiltration strategy of Hamas.

MS: Well, you say world opinion, but it’s actually basically Western opinion.

EM: True.

MS: It’s North American and European opinion. I mean, do you remember the way it was back after 9/11 and the run up to Afghanistan and Iraq, and everybody here used to talk about the Arab Street, what would, how the Arab Street would explode if we went into these countries. Right now, with what’s happening in Gaza, there actually is no Arab Street. There’s only a European street. They’re holding these evermore violent and nakedly Jew-hating protests on the streets of Europe. But the significant fact here is that in Egypt, in Jordan, Gaza and Hamas are getting no support. And the odd thing about this is that in this, in what’s going on in Gaza, effectively Obama and Kerry are effectively on Hamas’ side, and Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are rooting for Israel. It’s a very bizarre turn of events.

EM: The New York Times actually had a really interesting article about that, Mark, and about the fact that the usual suspects, if you will, that would be screaming that Israel had to restrain itself, and meaning Israel’s neighbors, the ones that you just mentioned – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt…

MS: Right.

EM: They’re all being very quiet, and in fact, they’re all backing the Egypt ceasefire proposal which was basically, it reminded me a little bit of Michael Corleone in Godfather II dealing with G.D. Spradlin who played the attorney. Here is my deal. You get nothing. I don’t even put up the $20,000 dollars, which I’d appreciate you would pay for, for my gambling license fee. I mean, that’s sort of the Egyptian offer here. And it looks like at least at the moment, that’s what Hamas is accepting, at least in the 72 hour ceasefire.

MS: Yeah.

EM: …because it’s unconditional.

MS: Yeah, because Egypt, Egypt’s priority is to if not actually get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood, at least to dampen them down. And Hamas is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The priority is basically for Egypt and the Sunni monarchies, are not advancing the interests of Iran. And that is again what is so bizarre about this is that you’ve got the Sunni Arab monarchies basically looking to Israel, and you’ve got Iran and the United States essentially, and Assad in Syria essentially on the other side. It’s a very bizarre lineup. And it’s interesting, and it’s an interesting development in this hideous Israel-Palestine stalemate, because in effect now, Israel is on the Sunni side of the Sunni-Shia split in the Middle East.

EM: It’s a very strange, it’s a very, very strange setup, and not to mention the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood actually is at least in its original conception, a Sunni organization. And here you have the Hamas aligning with the Shiites, and the Sunni nations aligning with Israel against a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate. I mean, you need a scorecard for this, Mark Steyn.

MS: Well, there’s a lot of that that goes on in Arab politics which don’t make sense if you actually tried to draw a graph or anything on it.

EM: Right.

MS: But the reality is this, that Israel is a force for stability in that neighborhood, which is what these guys are interested in. A lot of the, Libya is imploding on the western side of Egypt, so Egypt’s got this situation now where the Muslim Brothers have slipped over the border to Libya and hooked up with the guys who killed our fellows in Benghazi. So they’re concerned about that. Jordan has got an eastern border where buildings built by American taxpayers are now manned by these head-hacking jihadists from ISIS. Syria’s got a civil war that’s since expanded, sent a quarter of its population, expanded Jordan’s population by 25% with Syrian refugees. So right now, these guys have got all the instability they can handle, and they are looking to Israel as actually a force for regional stability. And that’s why things might not make sense on the surface. From the point of view of Amman or Cairo or Riyadh, actually make perfect sense.

EM: It’s a great point with all of the instability with Libya, almost in Egypt, and of course this massive amount of instability in Syria and Iraq, absolutely. Stability’s looking much, much, much more attractive. I want to shift our gave over to Iraq, where ISIS has been sweeping across and imposing a brutal regime of Sharia law in areas that had 2,000 year old Christian communities. And in the Washington Post today, Mark Steyn, they were saying that the razing of Mosul shrines, not necessarily the Christian shrines, but Mosul shrines, sparks first sign of resistance among Islamic state. And this is apparently a little bit of a takeoff on the old ‘They came for the Jews and I was not a Jew, so I did nothing.’

MS: Right.

EM: Well, they’ve come for the Shiite mosques and the Shiite shrines, and suddenly, and even some of the Sunni shrines, and suddenly, there’s resistance in Mosul. A little late.

MS: Yeah, because I think one of the great developments, as you say, they came for the Jews and I did nothing. That’s actually what happened in Iraq. Baghdad used to be 40% Jewish. Tripoli used to be 40% Jewish. And the Jews were all chased out there. And now it’s the turn of the Christians. And in fairness to what…ISIS are effectively doing every day what the European media and American campuses accuse Israel of doing. Everyone thinks Israel is slavering with blood and wants to eliminate every last Muslim in Gaza. No, they don’t. They just want to live with them. The difference is ISIS actually wants Iraq cleansed of Christians in the way it was cleansed of Jews, just as the Muslim Brotherhood wants Egypt cleansed of Coptic Christians the way it was cleansed of Jews. The first finance, back in 1922, the finance minister, the first finance minister of the kingdom of Egypt was actually a Jew. His grandson wrote to me from France a couple of years back, because it’s not just that Jews can’t be finance minister in Egypt anymore, Jews can’t be in Egypt anymore, and that’s one reason why the Middle East is mired in the state it’s in, is because they’ve chased out so many people leaving nothing but Islam to be king on a field of corpses.

EM: Mark Steyn, your correspondent might not be feeling too comfortable in France these days, either.

MS: No, I think that’s true. I saw a story this morning about a 90 year old lady in Belgium who was feeling sick and called a medical help line. And the doctor refused to help her, because he could tell from her name that she was Jewish. And he advised her to get on a plane to Gaza and seek treatment there. And the resurgence of Jew hate, hard-core, hard-core absolute explicit Jew hate, where Jewish life in France, particularly takes place now behind armed security, behind barbed wire, behind gated buildings, you know, going to a synagogue, going to a Jewish school, is like going into the Green Zone in Baghdad. And that’s disgraceful. And the French should be ashamed of allowing their Muslim immigrants in particular to do this to Jewish life in France.

EM: And I mean, there was glass in the streets, very reminiscent of 1938 in Germany. So this is almost a pogrom that’s going on in France.

MS: Yeah, and you get, and you actually get in Germany, there’s, you’re actually getting people chanting about gas and ovens on the streets again. But again, it’s fascinating to me, because it’s not like that in the United States. And what’s interesting is that the European politicians are not as anti-Israel as their citizens are. And it’s the other way around here. Obama and Kerry are far more pro-Hamas than anybody on the streets of American cities.

EM: Mark Steyn,, thank you for being with us.

End of interview.


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