Despite the Sunni-Shiite Divide, al-Qaeda and Iran Work Together

When the Obama administration negotiated its 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, it hoped doing so would foster a new Middle Eastern order in which Shiite Iran would use its power against Sunni jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State—relieving America of the burden of fighting them. This strategy rested on a number of false premises. Jonathan Schanzer explores one:

A photo, first posted on an anonymous Twitter account, circulated last week among terrorism watchers here in Washington. It received scant attention in the mainstream media. The now authenticated photo, dated 2015, shows three of al-Qaeda’s top leaders smiling casually. . . . Their location: Tehran. All three men served in key leadership positions for the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization. And all three men were apparently circulating freely in Iran.

The photo questions—yet again—the notion that al-Qaeda and the Islamic Republic were at odds. If anything, they appear to cooperate, even if Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions prevent a full-blown alliance. American officials (mostly those advocating for a nuclear deal with Iran) have repeatedly and falsely asserted that the Iranian regime maintained an antagonistic relationship with al-Qaeda, placing members of the world’s most dangerous terrorist group under house arrest.

This assertion has been regurgitated by prominent beltway analysts such as Nelly Lahoud and Peter Bergen. Both wrote books recently, parroting lines proffered by U.S. officialdom, downplaying the ties between Tehran and al-Qaeda. Both got it wrong.

Earlier this year, [meanwhile], a federal judge found in favor of victims and families that sued Iran for providing “material support” to al-Qaeda, among other groups that perpetrated terrorist attacks against American servicemembers and civilians in Afghanistan.

Read more at FDD

More about: Al Qaeda, Barack Obama, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus