Category Archives: Muslims


BLOG 308 June 27, 2016

Probably the largest migration in human history has been pouring across Asia and Europe as millions flee the wars in Syria and Iraq as well as other parts of the Middle East facing terrorist’s strikes. What sends them running? The fear factor.
After months of the immigration to countries like Hungry, German, France, etc., many European countries are closing their borders and pushing back. The numbers flooding into Europe have filled villages with a completely different population. Muslims are often known not to assimilate  and remain permanent outsiders. Of course, this tendency becomes threatening to locals whose ancestors have lived in these areas for millenniums. What’s the motivation behind the resistance to poor people in desperate need? The fear factor.
The most recent example of the problem was the affirmative vote in the UK to withdraw from the European Union. The impact of this decision sent ripples (more like tidal waves) across stock markets all over the world. In the United States, the Dow Jones average had just reached 18,000. After the UK vote, the market sank 600 points to a low of 17,400. The British pound dropped from around 1.75 to the dollar to a low of  130 pounds. In addition, the Brits discovered that Scotland was not going to pull out of the EU which split the unity of the United Kingdom . Multitudes immediately started petitions to rescind the vote. They had obviously miscalculated.
What was going on? Fundamentally, the immigration issue had pushed the envelope way too far. Extreme Muslim attacks in France and Belgium had greatly increased anxiety in the UK. The motivating force behind the vote?  The fear factor.
Folks who don’t think that wars and chaos on the other side of the globe have any affect on them had better take a second look. Fear doesn’t recognize border lines or passport numbers.  Recently, EJA (European Jewish Association) head Rabbi Menachem Margolin noted that 40% of European Jews choose to hide their identity.The level of anti-Semitism has grown that significantly in recent years. EJA is the largest Jewish Federation in Europe and knows the terrain well. Even during the high holidays on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur when all Jews gather, 80% now stay away from synagogues. The reason?  The fear factor!
The EJA continues to believe that Jews have an integral place in Europe and must not retreat. The fight against racism and xenophobia as well as all forms of discrimination begins at an early age They are not retreating even though their constituency has worries. I believe their example points the way through these perfidious times. While there are reasons to be fearful, it is not time to retreat. The day has come to be persistent in our bravery – wherever persistence is needed. We must reject the fear factor.



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BLOG 307 June 20, 2016

Every now and then, it’s nice to have significant people agree with you. For some time, I have been protesting President Obama’ s lack of leadership in the Syrian debacle. Now more than ever, that charge has been backed up by the State Department. Fifty-one diplomats made a public statement opposing the reticence exhibited by President Obama in his approach to the civil war raging in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry appeared fundamentally to agree with the diplomats.

During the past several years, I have repeatedly suggested that President Obama has made a serious mistake by backing away from the Syrian situation. Vladimir Putin’s aggression in the Crimea and the Ukraine followed Obama’s retreat when Assad repeatedly used chemical weapons after Obama had warned Syria not to do so. Putin concluded Obama was a paper tiger.

Let’s keep the record straight. Obama is an Evangelical Christian. I heard him profess his personal faith at a Presidential Prayer Breakfast. However, his failure to confront radical Muslim aggression has been so significant that many concluded he was actually a Muslim. The truth is that his father was the Muslim.

President Obama has made no secret of the fact that he had a fractured relationship with Barack Obama, Sr.. In 1982, at age 46, his father died in a car wreck after years of total neglect of his son. President Obama knew virtually nothing about what shaped his father’s ideals and ambitions beyond his growing up in Kenya. Whether founded or not, many have charged President Obama’s reluctance to confront radical extremists militarily has some relationship to this problem. His personal struggle is certainly difficult to define.

In September, 2014, Obama declared ISIS was not Islamic because they killed innocent children and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslims. Of course, this would be a surprise to ISIS since it justifies every single one of its atrocities with verses from the Koran. Many leaders within the Muslim community condemn ISIL’s action but can’t escape their claim to be Muslims. At best, President Obama sounds defensive when he makes such statements. Moreover, he appears to back away from tough decisions.

Interestingly enough, President Obama and Prime Minister “Bibi” Netanyahu are unexpectedly similar in this regard. Many within Israel charge Netanyahu with a flawed assessment of reality and that he constantly avoids momentous decisions. He has been described as trapping himself in a paralysis of indecision. President Obama appears to have traveled down the same path on the Middle East. He has certainly avoided the necessary big decisions about Syria and Iraq.

One the persistent problems this hesitation has created for America is that any significant US leadership role has been eroded in the entire Middle East. Currently, a majority of Israeli’s can only hope that Obama’s tenure will quickly pass and new leadership will prove to be more aggressive in the wars occurring in Syria and Iraq.

There seems to be little hope that Obama will change. Indecision will be part of his legacy. Unfortunate. Syria, ISIS, and the rest are simply not from a different perspective. They are evil – and you can’t play games with evil without losing every time.

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BLOG 294 March 14, 2016

A number of important events have transpired across the Middle East that have not been particularly well-reported in the United State. All the headlines go to the political candidates calling each other every name in the book. Sorry. There’s more important matters afoot. For example—

In Iran, moderates have won a majority of seats in the Assembly of Experts. This group is responsible for choosing the supreme leader of the country. They have the ability to question and dismiss the supreme leader. Every eight years, the 88 member Assembly is elected. Consequently, the new group could play an extremely important role in the future of the country. The Assembly was previously dominated by hard-liners who deferred to the decisions of the head of the country.

In the past, the moderates only held 25 percent of the seats. Today, they have won 60 percent. The staunch hard-line head of the previous assembly as well as the spiritual mentor of hard-liners were not re-elected. Moderates recognize the importance of improving relations with the international community and are far more open than the hard-liners. Probably, the next supreme leader they choose will be in favor of further expansion of democratic freedoms and greater openness to the West. Another difference is that moderates believe that government should reflect the will of the people expressed through elections. Hard-liners want to strict interpretations of Islam law regardless of what the people think or vote for.

Undoubtedly, the successful negotiations of a halt to nuclear weapon production and the lifting of sanctions have given many Iranians an improved view of the West. Regardless of the fierce objections of Israel’s Netanyahu, these negotiations may have opened an important door for better relations.

In Palestine, talk is growing of who will replace Mahmoud Abbas at the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The Arabs have almost universally concluded Abbas is ineffective. Palestinian institutions and finances continue to deteriorate. The current budget deficit is $700 million in a small territory with few resources. At this time, Abbas’s Fatah party controls the West Bank and Hamas controls Gaza. Certainly, there is no unity in sight in that division of authority.

While Abbas probably intends to die in office, candidates are already lining up to take his place. They may overtake him before the undertaker arrives. One possibility is the emergence of a collective leadership. Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of Yasir Arafat, might lead such a collision. The removal of Abbas from power could have a dramatic impact on renewed negotiations with Israel.

Hopefully, these shifts will bring a better and more peaceful day.


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BLOG 291 February 22, 2016

Anyone who has closely followed the upheaval in the Middle East has discovered that the fundamental conflict is between Muslim Sunnis and Shiites, not countries. Americans struggle to understand how two similar religious groups can kill each other over their differences. The US populace tends to view the situation as if Southern Baptists were shooting Methodists because they do not dunk people in baptism. Americans simply don’t have a paradigm for murder, destruction of ancient artifacts, and cutting off heads because viewpoints differ.

Now let’s put one more iron in the fire. Christophobia: Christians murdered for their faith while living in the Muslim world.

On October 9, 2011, 24 Coptic Christians were killed in Cairo in clashes with the Egyptian Army. On March 8, 2011, during a large Christian demonstration in a Cairo slum, 13 people were killed and 140 injured. Terrorist attacks on Christians in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia increased 309% from 2003 to 2010. Such is a staggering number!

Churches have been burned and parishioners imprisoned. In some countries, nothing less that the fate of Christianity is at stake. For some unexplained reason, the US government does not seem to notice or protest.

Traditionally, wars have been categorized in one of three ways: the just war, the unjust war, the religious war. The worst and most brutal conflict is religious warfare. For example, the Crusades pitted Christians against Muslims in one of the bloodiest conflicts in Middle Eastern history. Even to this hour, the name Crusader is hated in the Middle East.

Terrorist groups like Boko Haram killed more than 510 people while burning down or destroying more than 350 churches in 10 northern states. Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) they used guns, gasoline bombs, and machetes on unsuspecting citizens.

Today there are virtually no Christians left in Iraq. More than 900 Assyrian Iraqi Christians were killed by terrorist violence. Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholic have fled from major Christian sites like Bethlehem because of assaults. The Middle East is quickly emptying of a significant Christian presence due to the religious wars. Most of the violence is not centrally planned and comes from spontaneous expressions of anti-Christian animosity that extend back to the period of Colonialism.

The list goes on and on.

In this season of Lent when the Christian community ponders the Crucifixion, the Christian world might remember that during the first 300 years of their existence, Christians were pacifists and refused to participate in killing. A standard was set that ultimately impacted the Roman Empire and finally brought an end to the killings in the Coliseum. A new standard with a higher global ethic must be set again.

The world must wake up to the fact that its population will inevitably have different opinions and beliefs and it is still possible to be hold varying viewpoints without resulting animosity.

We can differ without destruction.

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BLOG 284 December 21, 2015

Chanukah’s come and gone leaving us the message to light a candle in a dark night. In a few days, Christmas will be proclaiming peace and good will to the world. Tragically, the Middle East cannot hear. The war cry is hostility and attack.

The impact has sent Americans reeling.

The most recent shootings in San Bernardino sent shock waves reverberating from California to New York. Extreme Muslim terrorists are impacting America. More and more people are being captured by fear. Look at the numbers.

For 20 years a majority of American’s opposed assault weapons. A recent poll by ABC News and the Washington Post illustrates the shift. Sixty-four percent now feel that carrying guns is the right approach to stopping terrorist and self-defense. Today only 26% of the public favor any ban or control on carrying handguns. Forty-seven percent of the public have guns in their homes. A recent national news story featured church members and pastors on a target range practicing their ability to shoot.

America is an armed camp.

Interestingly enough, a study in Connecticut demonstrated a 72% percent drop in gun deaths after a ban was legislated. However, to bring up such facts to an NRA dominated Congress won’t win any popularity contests. Often gun advocates view their weapons with religious fervor. Arguing with this mentality goes nowhere. However, it is interesting to make a few comparisons. Last year, 47,055 deaths resulted from drug overdose. Compare that against the number killed by terrorists and the risk is clear. You are more apt to be hit by lighting than shot by a terrorist.

However, the impact of the San Bernardino killings may be backfiring on ISIS. American support of military action against the Islamic state is rapidly growing. In January, 2015, the public was split down the middle with 50% opposed to more military action in the Middle East. As of December, 2015, 70% of the country favor intervention. Such a number is extremely high.

One of the reasons the polls demonstrate opposition for any ban on guns and increasing intervention in the Middle East is a lack of confidence in the government’s ability to stop terrorists. Only 22% think the government can stop a “lone wolf” assault. While 45% have no confidence in the government halting a larger attack. Sixty-eight percent of the public found President Obama’s explanation of fighting ISIS to be unsatisfactory. Fifty-three percent oppose Obama’s intention to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into American.

Doubt persists everywhere.

And what behind all of these numbers? Fear.

Nothing helps the enemies of freedom and peace like fear. In this winter season of light, laughter, and love, let us remember that the coming of the Christ child was to bring goodwill and peace to the world. The answer to fear won’t be found at the end of a gun barrel. Hope can only be discovered in the love of God that transcends every moment in history and replaces fear with hope.

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BLOG 282 December 7, 2015

Having spent so many decades traveling and being involved in Israel and the surrounding Middle East countries, I am often asked, “what’s it like to live there under the shadow of violence? How do people tolerate the constant terrorist threat?”

Guess what? Americans can now know!

Take a look a San Bernardino, California.

Millions of Americans are running to the nearest gun store to buy everything from pistols to grenade launchers. Television gives nightly advice on what to do if a shooter came running in your office or home firing indiscriminately. Hide under a desk! Barricade the door! Hit the floor! The suggestions go on and on.

People who have been indifferent to the situation in Israel where buses are bombed by suicide nutcases and sidewalk cafes are shot up are suddenly heading for the nearest gun range to make sure they know how to shoot accurately.

We have just watched good people in Paris assaulted and killed for no reason except to frighten the world. San Bernardino and Sandy Hook elementary school, Newton, Connecticut along with Columbine High School, Denver, Colorado and a multitude of other sites have sensitized us to how terrible and immediate the killings can be. I have a home in small town Bailey, Colorado where six females were taken hostage and Emily Keyes was shot by a crazy drifter on a rampage. Nine years later the village is still traumatized. They understand terrorism.

The reports of home grown terrorists and Muslims becoming radicalized in our own cities leaves us aghast. How could a next door neighbor overnight turn into a fanatical killer? Make a pressure cooker bomb? We find the situation unbelieveable.

Folks, this is everyday news in Israel and the areas held or under attack by ISIS. It’s taken awhile but America is finally waking up to the fact that rampaging maniacs armed with every kind of weapon can show up in your backyard and for no personal reason start shooting up your house.

How does it feel? Today, we can certainly identify with the fear in Israel where rockets come flying out of nowhere at homes of good people simply trying to crave out a peaceful life for them and their children.

Now for the other side of the coin.

We are told that the average American has about 1 in 2 million chance of ever being caught in a terrorist attack. We are far, far, more likely to shoot each other by accident than to protect ourselves from terrorists. We don’t have to panic, but we must be more aware of the situation around the world.

The problems in Israel with the Palestinians or the disintegration of Iraq are more than worthy of our attention. Americans must come to grips with how the Middle East turmoil must be brought under control just as the people of Paris now know they must be on alert. The time has come to pay attention to the responsibility that everyone has to find a solution to Middle Eastern struggles.

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BLOG 279 November 16, 2015

The horrendous carnage in Paris this past weekend has shocked the world. With hundreds injured or killed, France is now faced with an act of war that has claimed innocent lives. ISIS immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks and proclaimed these civilian attacks were only the “first of the storm” that will follow. Statements came in Arabic, English, and French saying: “Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State.”

Reverberations continue to rumble around the world. During the Saturday meeting in Vienna of the top diplomats from more than a dozen countries, American Secretary of State John Kerry said the attacks were “the most vile, horrendous, outrageous, unacceptable acts on the planet.” The French foreign minister added, “It is more necessary than ever in the current circumstance to coordinate the international fight against terrorism.” Many will conclude that only an end to the civil war in Syria can halt such an outbreak.

Before the terrorist attacks exploded in Paris, eastern European nations were already balking at accepting the unprecedented migration flowing out of Syria and the war torn countries with multitudes knocking on the doors of Hungry, Austria, Germany, and beyond. America may do the same. Rumors were already circulating that concealed terrorist were traveling with the hordes crossing the Aegean Sea. The Parisian attack now appears to confirm this suspicion.

The situation in Paris is not new. For more than a year, France has fought in its own intifada. Regular flare-ups in many of the Arab-inhabited suburbs of the major French cities is continuing story. A running guerrilla type of warfare has existed with Muslim Arabs for some time. As a result of French colonialism in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia conflict has followed for two-centuries. What happened his past weekend is another but worse expression of this old struggle.

In 2005. one of these outbreaks lasted for three weeks when two youths running from the police were electrocuted and killed while hiding in an installation with an electric transformer in the Paris suburb of Clicy-sous-Bois. Riots erupted in a number of immigrant-dominated neighborhoods of more than 100 French cities.

Five to six million people of Muslim origin live in France, composing 10 percent of the total population. Confrontation has already occurred when schools resisted girls and young women wearing Muslim head scarves at school. Muslim religious customs have created other similar tensions.

Tensions remain high because Arabs tend to find only factory-type employment with high numbers of youths unable to find any jobs. Such suburban ethnic communities make for fertile ground for recruiting young people who can be radicalized.

There’s no end in sight to the Middle-Eastern conflict that that has now spilled over in Europe. The French and Parisian ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity are definitely being challenged. More conflicts and problems will follow.

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BLOG 265 August 10, 2015

United States television commercials are beginning to heat up. One set of advertisements says, “Run from the Iran Negotiations.” The other side features Israeli generals who support the nuclear deal. You’d think they were selling soap or cars. Unfortunately, the politicians are currently turning the question into a political issue rather than dealing with the substance. Presidential candidate Huckabee recently made himself look foolish talking about Obama leading the Jewish people “into the ovens.”

So, what are the facts?

The first step is to develop a perspective on the problem. Let’s see if we can place some of the issues in a larger frame of reference.

1. We need crystal clarity about the meaning of this “deal.” Both Iran and Israel believe that Iran can develop a nucelar weapon after a relatively short ten year moratorium. Obama’s statements have been somewhat confusing and ambiguous. The public needs to know what is expected to happen at the end of the 10 year period.

  1. Iran has been and is a dangerous destabilizing force in the Middle East. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently made a statement that nothing in this deal improves their contempt for the United States and Israel. Can temporarily taking building a nuclear weapon off the table improve the terrorist threat Iran has been promoting? It has been argued that removing sanctions will release billions of dollars for more terrorist activities. Will it?

The only person who determines how this money will be spent is Khamenei. He has been clear about how he’d intend to use the cash and that’s not good.

3. There is a difference of opinion inside Israel about the Iranian deal. A number of military leaders disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Why is there a difference in point of view. Obviously, Netanyahu’s strong rhetoric doesn’t reflect the entire country. Who’s right?

A former brigadier-general and division head of the Shin Bet (Israel security agency) recently wrote that the State of Israel is not under any form of existential security threat at the present time. Lior Akerman maintains that even with the radical Islamic uprisings in the region,  Israel’s military situation is quite calm.  Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian authority pose a threat to Israel. In fact, Hamas’s financial situation is bleak.

In this current debate over the nuclear negotiations, Israel will generally be portrayed as struggling to survive a common enemy (although who that enemy is goes undefined) Many like Akerman would argue that Israel’s immediate problems are a faltering health care program, a debilitating school system, and a serious erosion of support from the United States. These voices would claim Netanyahu would do better to turn his attention to these issues rather than orchestrate a political war with the American administration.

Before we can come to a clear, final decision, the American public needs more clarification on these issues and less emotional and political rhetoric. Before you give in to your emotions, make sure your mind is informed. And it won’t be easy with all the smoke that’s in the air.

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BLOG 262 July 20, 2015

Jay Leno’s in Israel cracking jokes at Natanyahu. “I know him to be a man of his word – unless of course the word is spoken the day before an election.” Are they laughing in Israel?

A carton appeared in an Israeli newspaper. One person says, “The US President is saying ‘trust me on Iran, I know what I’m doing.” The other person says, “Just like US Presidents have known what they were doing on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria?” Are they laughing in Washington?

The Iran nuclear negotiations and agreement has pushed Israel and the US further apart than they have ever been. The United States and five other countries are being told by the leader of one nation that they are wrong. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the USA signed off on the agreement. The agreement is predicted to be Obama’s most significant diplomatic achievement. Prime Minister Netanyahu says they all made a “historic mistake.”

Even retired major general Giora Eiland who headed Israel’s National Security Council a decade ago believes Israel should stop opposing the agreement. He said fighting it would be “counterproductive.” Would Netanyahu listen? No.

Can Netanyahu win with Congress? Probably not.  Will he loose big time with Obama and his administration?  He already has and will only sink further –win or lose the current battle. Why is it worth the effort to fight to a bloody finish?

  1. President Obama believes the agreement could bring moderation in Iran and set the stage to bring it closer to the International community and thereby change its hostile attitude.

Prime Minister Natanyahu does not agree.

  1. President Obama argues they have obtained the best deal possible and that sanctions have succeeded. Iran will used the money to bring relief to their national economy.

Prime Minister Natanyahu argues Iran will use this released wealth to prop up its radical allies Syria and Hezbollah and only further destabilize the region.

3, The nations negotiating the agreement believe they have the means to detect any failure on Iran’s part to keep their end of the bargain. The six nation allies believe Iran will approach the deal in good faith.

Most Israelis believe the Iranians will attempt to cheat at every turn.

Who is right and who is wrong? Probably –and frighteningly – only time will tell.

At this point, Obama is certainly not anti-Israel but neither is he their “best friend ever.”

Israelis argue that his ideology blinds him. He fails to grasp how dangerous Islamism actually is. He tends to see the Palestinians as a Third World people victimized by whites. He can not even utter the phrase “Islamist terrorism.”

On the other hand, Natanyahu has proved to be a flip-flopping, double-speak politician who can be as obstinate as a brick wall. His logic is blurred by fears from the Holocaust.

Both men need to step back and take a deep breath – as does the public. The agreement achieved in Vienna is narrow in its scope and doesn’t pretend to solve a host of other problems –like American prisoners in Iran jails and Iran’s support of terrorism. It simply puts the lid on pursuit of a nuclear bomb for a limited period of time.

The question the world has to consider is whether that solution is better than nothing.

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BLOG 255 June 1, 2015

As the song says, “June is busting out all over” and it sure is in the Middle East! Before we take another look at the future of ISIS (the Islamic State), a couple of recent decisions in Egypt deserve our attention. While this story has gone almost unreported in America, an Egyptian court sentenced Mohamed Morsi to death. The deposed president of Egypt as well as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the first freely elected president in the long history of Egypt now faces execution. Should this sentence be carried out, Morsi could become a martyr to Egyptian Muslims. Of course, the death sentence must be approved by the grand Mufti, the ultimate Sunni religious authority in Egypt. In addition, such convictions will be appealed through the court system. At the least, Morsi’s death sentence is certain evidence that Sisi’s government continues to clean house and not back away from their repression of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On the brighter side, American citizen Mohamed Soltan was finally released from and Egyptian  jail. Charged with supporting an Islamist protest, he spent two years denying the charges and participating in a hunger strike. His life imprisonment sentence was protested by Human Rights groups and President Obama. President al-Sisi released him and Soltan left the country. Because of solitary confinement and the hunger strike, his health is dire.

Back to ISIS. The recent capture of Ramadi and Palmyra has fired new enthusiasm for the Islamic State in the Muslim world. However, should ISIS prevail, can they endure and survive? The evidence of history suggests not.

The fiery intial success of such groups usually falls before internal rivalries, a quarantine imposed by other governments, or the direct intervention of outside powers such as the United States. Comparing the rise of ISIS to the emergence of the Soviet Union has some interesting similarities. While the Western powers supported the White Russians, the United States, France, and Britian were exhausted by World War I and of course, Germany was defeated. No outside forces descended on the Soviet Union. Today  nearly 75% of the American public believe the war in Iraq was a mistake and no political candidate (except Lindsey Graham)  is going to buckle that large a plebiscite. Some unanticipated event would be required to change the opinion of American intervention.

As long as ISIS remains at war with Iran and its puppets, it can expect to be funded by Sunni donors from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. However, internal factors and behind the scenes maneuvering can easily and quickly change. The recent history of the Arab world running from Egypt’s President Nasser forward reflects the difficulties of maintaining such connections.

Moreover, movements that operate on apocalyptic ideals and vision have historically burned themselves out. The wild end-time ideas that fuel today’s jihadists will disparate with time and the emotional force behind the war will disappear. In other words, what scares the West today, may evaporate tomorrow.

The West does not have the intelligence sources  to know what struggles are currently going on inside ISIS. Past history suggests conflicts are already at work. Such a situation could be as destructive to ISIS as any other factor.

As was true of the Soviet Union, political evolution was necessary for future endurance. Can ISIS make such political adjustments and survive? Past history again suggests a “no” answer. The key to the future may lay inside ISIS.

Only time will tell.


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