Posts

VIDEO: Justice Department Designates Al Jazeera ‘Agent of Qatari Government’

AJ+, a subsidiary of Qatar’s media arm Al Jazeera, will now be required to register in the U.S. as a foreign agent, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Justice Department also declared the Al Jazeera Media Network an “agent of the Qatar government.” Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar’s ruling family.

The new requirement falls under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a safeguard that was put in place in 1938 for the purpose of addressing threats to national security and promoting transparency with respect to influence ops conducted by foreign governments within the U.S.

The act requires that the government, as well as the public, are kept abreast of the source of information coming from foreign governments aiming to influence American public opinion, policy and laws.

Under FARA, AJ+ will have to disclose that information to the government which, in turn, will make the information available on a database accessible to the public.

Al Jazeera spends hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists, think-tanks and U.S. universities to influence American public opinion and policy. The emir of Qatar personally appoints its board.

In August of 2013, the network launched Al Jazeera America. Outrage was felt in a number of circles and pressure was put on the channel’s advertisers. Three years later, Al Jazeera America, which generated consistently poor ratings, shut down citing the “economic landscape.

Qatar has a history of aiding and supporting terror groups, including Al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Iranian regime.

Al Jazeera media outlets are known for its parroting of the regime’s views. They also have long histories of spreading antisemitism.

In 2019, AJ+ Arabic came under fire for producing a Holocaust-denial video. The video denied exterminations at the Nazi concentration camps and accused “the Zionists” of being the main beneficiary of the Holocaust.

One of the most egregious acts by the network occurred in 2008 when Al Jazeera made an on-air birthday party for notorious Palestine Liberation Front terrorist Samir Kuntar.

In 1979, Kuntar headed a group of four terrorists who infiltrated Israel, killed a policeman, broke into an apartment and shot a father to death and murdered his four-year old daughter by smashing her skull against a rock. During the attack, the mother, who was hiding with her two-year old daughter, accidentally smothered the child to death trying to keep her quiet.

In the letter sent to AJ+, the Justice Department noted that the Qatari government was free to “withdraw or limit funding at any time.”

The letter coincided with a visit to the U.S. by top-ranking officials from Qatar to strengthen US-Qatar diplomatic and economic relations.

Other media outlets required to register as foreign agents include Russia’s RT and Sputnik, Turkish public broadcaster TRT, and five Chinese media outlets

The letter was also sent the day before two historic peace treaties were signed with Israel by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. The two countries are among a number of Arab countries at odds with Qatar over their support of terror.

While Left-wing media outlets opined that the designation was pushed by the UAE as a condition to signing the treaty, the UAE ambassador to the U.S. flatly denied that claim.

“At no point in our discussions was Al Jazeera or even Qatar raised,” Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba told The New York Times.

“They [Al Jazeera] are really not as important as they think they are,” al-Otaiba added.

Three years ago, a coalition of Gulf States including Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as Egypt and other Sunni states in North Africa cut off relations and trade with Qatar for their support of terror.

SEE MORE ON JAZEERA & QATAR

Questioning Qatar’s Terror Financing? Here Are the Facts

Al Jazeera Opens Propaganda Front on U.S. Shores

Northwestern University Partners with Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera Wants You to Hate Thanksgiving

Al Jazeera Arabic: Should All the Alawites Be Slaughtered?

Islamic Scholar Pledges Allegiance to ISIS on Al Jazeera

New York Times Shills for Al Jazeera

Rep. Sherman on Al Jazeera: Your Owners Fund Hamas

Watch Clarion Project’s latest documentary Covert Cash on the influence foreign money has on American Universities:

EDITORS NOTE: This Clarion Project video is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Obama faces Veto Dilemmas at the United Nations and 114th Congress

As 2014 was closing a vote on a draft resolution introduced by the Jordanian UN Ambassador at the Security Council hit what may be a temporary speed bump for PA President Abbas. He is striving g to impose a draconian solution to the long simmering dispute on the Jewish nation of Israel. The draft resolution failed to achieve the requisite 9 votes, losing by one vote.  The US and Australia voted no.  Five others abstained including the UK, Lithuania, South Korea and Nigeria. France, Luxembourg, Russia, China, Jordan, Chile, Argentina, and Chad voted in favor of the draft resolution. The draft resolution sought to fix a one year deadline for negotiations on declaration of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem based on the infamous War 1949 Armistice line. What fabled Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban deemed the “Auschwitz line”.  The draft resolution would require the end of the alleged ‘occupation’ of the West Bank by Israel losing its control over the Jordan Valley approaches and protection of over 350,000 Israelis in both Samaria and Judea.

Virtually on the announcement of the vote, PA President Abbas, now serving in the tenth year of an elected four year term, signed 20 UN covenants including the Rome Treaty making it eligible for observer status at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. That would enable it to bring a charge of war crimes against Israel. This will confront the ICC with a choice between recognition of anti-Israel issues versus international law matters. Further, the unilateral move by Abbas will likely cause the incoming GOP led Congress to consider retaliatory legislation further consternating Administration diplomacy in the region.  Israeli PM Netanyahu countered saying:

The one who should fear the International Criminal Court at The Hague is the Palestinian Authority, which is in a unity government with Hamas, a declared terrorist organization like ISIS that commits war crimes.

We will take steps in response and we will defend the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world. We will repel this latest effort to force diktats on us, just as we have repelled the Palestinian turn to the UN Security Council.

 US UN Ambassador Power blasted the PA vote because it precluded consideration of security guarantees outlined in UNSC Res. 242 for Israel to have defensible borders.  She noted in her remarks, “The deadlines in the resolution take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.” The State Department director of its press office, Jeff Rathke, criticized  the PA saying:

 We are deeply troubled by today’s Palestinian action regarding the ICC. Today’s action is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.

Palestinian Resolution reprise Veto

Besides the ICC ploy, the PA was anything but supine. The change in the non-permanent membership of the UNSC might afford them another opportunity to re-submit the draft resolution, possibly obtaining the requisite 9 votes.   As former US UN Ambassador John Bolton in a Wall Street Journal op Ed published today, “The U.N. Vote on Palestine Was a Rehearsal,”   wrote, “An influx of new Security Council members means a likely ‘yes’ vote – and a veto dilemma for Obama.” Obama, as we have noted previously in Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic interview gave a broad hint that the US might abstain.

Bolton notes in his WSJ op ed the elements of this dilemma that may shortly face the Administration:

A firmer U.S. strategy might have prevented the dilemma from arising. The White House’s opening diplomatic error was in sending strong signals to the media and U.S. allies that Mr. Obama, wary of offending Arab countries, was reluctant to veto any resolution favoring a Palestinian state. Secretary of State John Kerry took pains not to offer a view of the resolution before it was taken up. Such equivocation was a mistake because even this administration asserts that a permanent resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict requires direct negotiations and agreements among the parties themselves.

No draft resolution contrary to these precepts should be acceptable to the U.S., or worth wasting time on in the diplomatic pursuit of a more moderate version. This American view, advocated for years and backed by resolute threats to veto anything that contradicted it, has previously dissuaded the Palestinians from blue-smoke-and-mirror projects in the Security Council.

Bolton addresses how the reprise could shortly occur:

Several factors support a swift Palestinian reprise. First, they obtained a majority of the Security Council’s votes, even if not the required supermajority of nine. In today’s U.N., the eight affirmative votes constitute a moral victory that virtually demand vindication, and sooner rather than later.

Second, the text of Jordan’s resolution was wildly unbalanced even by U.N. standards—for example, it demands a solution that “brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967,” and calls for “security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine.” A few meaningless tweaks here and there and several countries that abstained could switch to “yes.” Third, on Jan. 1 five of the Security Council’s 10 nonpermanent members stepped down (their two-year terms ended), replaced by five new members more likely to support the Palestinian effort.

Consider how Wednesday’s vote broke down, and what the future may hold. Three of the Security Council’s five permanent members (France, China and Russia) supported Jordan’s draft. France’s stance is particularly irksome, since it provides cover for other Europeans to vote “yes.” The U.K. timidly abstained, proving that David Cameron is no Margaret Thatcher; the abstention signals that a more “moderately” worded resolution might be enough to flip London to a “yes.”

Washington cast the only permanent member’s “no” vote, which is characterized as a veto only when nine or more Security Council members vote in a draft resolution’s favor. Will President Obama now have the stomach to cast a real veto against a U.N. Charter majority backing the Palestinians? Is this the point where the “liberated” Mr. Obama allows a harsh anti-Israel resolution to pass?

Happy New Year, Jerusalem.

He notes the lineup of new rotating non-permanent members in the UNSC that could tip the vote over the required 9 votes:

Three “yes” votes came from Jordan, Chad and Chile, which all remain Security Council members in 2015. Two additional supporters, Argentina and Luxembourg, have been replaced, respectively, by Venezuela (no suspense there) and Spain. Spain narrowly won election in October, defeating Turkey after three ballots. Madrid might be expected to support Washington, but not necessarily, given recent EU hostility to Israel and the appeasers’ argument to soothe wounded Muslim feelings about Turkey’s loss by backing the Palestinians.

Only Australia joined the U.S. in voting “no.” Its successor, New Zealand, would either have abstained or voted affirmatively, according to Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

South Korea abstained, but its replacement, Malaysia, is a certain affirmative vote. Angola, taking Rwanda’s seat, is an abstention at best. While abstainers Lithuania and Nigeria remain, Nigeria’s Boko Haram problem could easily move it to “yes” as an olive branch to the Muslim world. And Lithuania, as a new member of the euro currency union, could well succumb to arguments for EU solidarity, especially if Britain also surrenders.

Bolton notes in conclusion:

The Obama administration can only prevent what it dreads by openly embracing a veto strategy, hoping thereby to dissuade pro-Palestinian states from directly confronting the U.S.

And if that fails, the veto should be cast firmly and resolutely, as we normally advocate our principles, not apologetically. As so often before on Middle Eastern issues, a veto would neither surprise nor offend most Arab governments. If the Administration had courage enough to make clear that a veto was inevitable, it would minimize whatever collateral damage might ensue in Arab lands. But don’t hold your breath.

Iran Sanctions Veto

However, this is not the only veto dilemma facing the Administration in 2015.   On Tuesday, December 30, 2014, Reuters reported  that Undersecretary of The Treasury for Finance and Terrorism, David Cohen issued new financial sanctions “against nine targets who Washington says have helped Tehran avoid existing sanctions or commit human rights abuses.”    The IRNA news agency noted these comments by an Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham saying: “At a time negotiations are underway with P5+1, such a move raises doubts about America’s intentions and violates the good will principles” “This action is for mere publicity and will have no bearing whatsoever on our commercial policies,”

Just prior to the onset of Republican control of the 114th Session of Congress on January 6, 2015, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk gave an interview on December 28, 2014  on Fox News Sunday following statements by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham that new sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program may be brought up for an early vote.

That followed an NPR interview with President Obama that he might be prepared to use his veto authority on specific legislation passed by the new Congress.  Kirk in the Sunday Fox interview indicated that 17 Democrats, including New Jersey’s Bob Menendez and New York’s Charles Schumer may have the requisite votes to pass new stronger sanctions legislation against Iran’s nuclear program in view of the Islamic regime fobbing off failed P5+1 negotiations . Those 17 Democratic Senate votes would make such a measure veto proof. This puts President Obama in a difficult situation regarding his engagement of the Islamic Regime in Tehran. A regime that has successfully outmaneuvered the P5+1 and Administration and likely has already achieved nuclear breakout. Omri Ceren chronicled this in a Commentary article,“Enabling Iran’s Nukes” saying, “The lies began at the very beginning with American assurances had secured a ‘halt’ in Iranian nuclear program.”   This is a matter of great concern to Israel’s PM Netanyahu who would support such Congressional action on tougher Iran sanctions.  Watch the Fox News interview with Sen. Kirk.

Iran is feeling the ravaging of its economy due to the loss of revenue from oil and gas production.  Given the precipitous fall in world energy prices, due in part to the drop in demand and the vaulting of US energy production to first rank in 2015.  That has forced Iran to suggest that fellow OPEC member Saudi Arabia cooperates to cut production. This is an unlikely prospect since the Saudis are unwilling to relent given their $750 billion dollar hard currency reserve cushion.

We shall shortly see whether President Obama will issue vetoes at the UNSC against a reprise of the Palestinian draft resolution and another against tougher sanctions legislation passed on a bi-partisan basis in the new Republican controlled Congress against the Iranian nuclear program.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Geert Wilders’ Anti-Islamization Immigration Stand Resonates Across Europe

Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands is being investigated for the second time in five years by Dutch prosecutors for  alleged hate speech during  his March 2014 local election campaign rally statement of “fewer Moroccans”.  This comes while his ratings in Dutch polls has rocketed him to the top with fully 30 seats in the Hague parliament, if snap elections were held.  That is more than the combined seats currently held by the ruling Rutte coalition of the PvdA and VVD parties.  Note  this remark: “The short message of PVV-leader Geert Wilders to the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: ‘The revolution in The Netherlands has started now, Mark.”

Poll 21-12-2014

Dutch polls 12-21-14. For a larger view click on the image.

Wilders drew attention to that irony in a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) op-ed, “Talking About the Moroccan Issue is not A Crime”.  Wilders is exercising free speech, something that Americans take for granted as a right guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  Wilders’ message about “fewer Moroccans” reflects the social consequences of permissive mass Muslim immigration undermining the social fabric of foundational  Western values of, liberty, freedom and tolerance. In Holland’s case it is exemplified by the rejection of those values by the Dutch Moroccan émigré community that even Dutch liberal parties have begrudgingly come to recognize.

What Wilders’ PVV and other parties in EU countries deemed ‘far right” have drawn attention to is the seeds of destruction of national values from compliance with UN humanitarian refugee programs straining resources and social welfare budgets caused by Jihadist warfare in the Middle East.  That is reflected in the rallies in Dresden and throughout major cities in Germany this Christmas season by the Pegida movement (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West).

As Al Jazeera reported Pegida rallies for “the right to preserve and protect our Christian-Jewish dominated West culture”, and against parallelgesellschaft – a German term used to describe immigrant communities that maintain their cultural norms and don’t integrate in local society.”  The third mass Pegida rally of more than 17,500 occurred Monday night before the Semper Opera House in Dresden where the Pegida movement arose in October. The trigger for Pegida was the more than 200,000 Syrian refugees granted asylum by Germany. Recently, the short lived Swedish Social Democrat liberal government fell on a no confidence vote allegedly provoked by the anti-immigration Swedish Democrat party. It had forged an alliance with center right parties in Sweden’s parliament over the issue of a ballooning social welfare budget to accommodate 80,000 Syrian war asylumees.

Participants hold German national flags during a demonstration organised by anti-immigration group PEGIDA in Dresden

Pegida Rally  Semper Opera House Dresden, Germany 12-22-14. Source: Reuters.

Wilders’ WSJ op-ed reflects the Dutch unease with the policies of the ruling coalition government in the Hague  Parliament. Those concerns have  that has now cross the EU and even here in America to comply with UN humanitarian refugee standards.  The subsequent generations of Muslim émigrés in host EU countries have led to spikes in Antisemitism, Synagogue fire bombings, allegations of sexual assault and grooming of non-Muslim women, tolerance of Shariah law in so-called Muslim dominated “no go areas”, murders perpetrated in the name of Jihad against Jews and others.  The specter stalking across the EU landscape of 28 members is the threat of homegrown Jihadists as returning veterans from the barbaric Salafist Islamic State.  That threat was crystallized by the murders of Israeli tourists and workers at the Brussels Municipal Jewish Museum by returning Syrian war French jihadist Mehdi Nemmouchet.

The large Muslim émigré communities in the EU were the results of granting host country citizenship coupled with the deficit in manpower to rebuild Europe following World War II. It was also a reflection  of the Eurabia paradigm articulated by the scholar Bat Ye’or  driven by OPEC control  over the  World’s and EU’s energy needs that arose during the October War of 1973. That led to the EC and the EU ‘accommodation’ of  Organization of Islamic Cooperation demands for tolerance of Sharia Blasphemy codes  demanded  by burgeoning Muslim émigré communities under the guise of host country hate laws.

That is the wind behind Wilders’ WSJ op–ed and the sudden emergence of groups like Pegida in Germany, and anti-Mass immigration parties in Denmark, Austria and Sweden.

Geert Wilders

Hon. Geert Wilders, PVV.

Note these excerpts from Wilders’ WSJ op-ed:

In the Netherlands, as in many other Western European countries right now, problems arise when Muslim immigrants refuse to assimilate and integrate into the wider community. In our case I referred specifically to the Moroccans not because I have anything against them generally but because they are one of the largest immigrant groups here and are over represented in our crime and welfare statistics.

Moroccans are suspects in violent robberies 22 times as often as indigenous Dutch. Between 1996 and 2010, more than 60% of the Moroccan male youths born in 1984 had at least once been suspected of a crime, a rate three times as high as their indigenous counterparts. … According to Dick Schoof, the Dutch national coordinator for counterterrorism and security, Moroccans also account for three-quarters of all Dutch Muslims who leave for Syria to wage jihad.

[…]

For almost a decade, my party has proposed three measures to address this issue. First, we want an end to immigration from Muslim countries. Second, we want to expel all criminals of foreign nationality and, for those offenders who have dual nationality, deprive them of their Dutch citizenship, sending them back to the country of their other nationality. Third, we want to encourage the voluntary repatriation of non-Western immigrants.

The prosecutor’s decision can’t be seen as being anything but politically motivated, especially when he has refused to prosecute two leading politicians of the governing Labor Party, Diederik Samsom and Hans Spekman, for similar statements on Moroccans. Mr. Samsom said that Moroccans have an “ethnic monopoly” on street crime, while Mr. Spekman said that Moroccans who don’t abide by the law have to be “humiliated in front of their own people.”

Polls have indicated that more than 43% of Netherlanders agree with me…. I was thus expressing the feelings of millions in my country. In a democracy, a public debate about important political issues, such as “the Moroccan issue,” shouldn’t be restricted by criminalizing the expression of certain problems and policy proposals.

 […]

Prosecuting me as an elected politician for expressing the opinions of my constituents is absurd. Excluding certain problems from the political debate by making it a crime to discuss them won’t lead to the disappearance of these concerns, let alone contribute to a solution. This prosecution, moreover, is also dangerous. People will begin to lose their trust in the democratic process. Festering political problems do not go away simply because they are kept in a dark corner. I wish the Dutch public prosecutor had been wise enough to see that.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of a protest sign which reads “No Hatred, No Violence, No Koran” at the Pegida rally in Germany. Source: Al Jazeera Yermi Brenner

Saudi-led Gulf Squabble Spells Trouble for Obama?

The Obama White House and the world media are pre-occupied with Russian President Putin’s grab of the Ukrainian autonomous province of Crimea. There are undertones of “Back to the Future”- meaning a possible return to Cold War era geopolitics with Russia.

Despite that overriding ruckus there was a less well publicized series of events in the Persian Gulf region among members of the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC). Does this spell trouble ahead for President Obama’s Middle East policies?

At the GCC meeting on March 5th in Riyadh, Qatar was effectively isolated by “sisterly” Sunni Arab states. The Emir of Qatar, a member of the GCC, has been prominent in supporting financial aid and assistance to Muslim Brotherhood (MB) affiliates in Egypt under Morsi, Hamas in Gaza and the Syrian Opposition Council, one of whose leaders is a dual American Syrian citizenLouay Safi.

Virtually on the heels of the squabble at the GCC gathering, Saudi King Abdullah announced decrees on Friday, March 7th. They listed the MB as a terrorist organization along with several AQ affiliates in Syria and Iraq, as well as Shia terrorist groups in North Yemen and in the oil rich Eastern Province. The latter are backed by both Iran’s Qod Force and Hezbollah. This should present problems and potential conflicts of interest for President Obama’s senior National Security advisor Robert Malley and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Both of these men espouse outreach to the MB, Iran and proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

This train wreck about to happen has been in development since the July 3, 2013 ouster by Egyptian Gen. al-Sisi of President Morsi in Egypt. Morsi was a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood endeavoring to create a Sharia compliant constitution with him as Emir. Egypt’s interim government in December 2013 outlawed the MB. This week an Egyptian court went after Hamas, the Gaza affiliate of the MB banning activities in Egypt. Following, the ouster of Morsi, Saudi Arabia and several of members of the GCC provided upwards of $12 billion in financial assistance to the interim Egyptian interim government. The stage now appears set for Gen. Abdel Fateh al-Sisi to run as the country’s President, a harkening back to the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser and the possible return of military autocracy in Egypt.

The flashpoint for the GCC isolation of Qatar was the notorious aged Egyptian MB preacher Yousuf al Qaradawi who had been in exile in Qatar before temporarily returning to Egypt in February 2011. He issued Fatwas for the reconquest of Al Quds (Jerusalem) and preached anti-Semitic hatred to crowds in Tahrir Square. In a January 2009 broadcast from Qatar, al Qaradawisaid about Jews: “kill them, down to the very last one.” While in Doha, Qatar he steadfastly refused to participate in annual International Interfaith Conferences.

A news report by Radaw noted the isolation of Qatar by “sisterly” Sunni Arab states because of the mischief of al Qaradawi and sanctuary provided by the Emir:

The Arab states of the lower Gulf are engaged in the latest and potentially most serious of their periodic family squabbles, which this week provoked three of them to withdraw their ambassadors from tiny Qatar.

The Qatar government expressed regret and surprise at Wednesday’s decision by the “sisterly countries” of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, but said it did not plan to retaliate by pulling out its own envoys.

All four states, together with Kuwait and Oman, are members of the GCC.

The official reason for the diplomatic spat is Qatar’s alleged failure to live up to a recent commitment not to interfere in the internal affairs of fellow GCC states.

The three conservative states are particularly distressed that Qatar continued to provide a platform for Yousuf Al Qaradawi, a Qatar-based Egyptian cleric, to use his fiery sermons to attack Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite Riyadh’s threat to freeze relations unless he was silenced.

The scope of King Abdullah’s terrorist designations was reported by Al-Jazeera:

Saudi Arabia has listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization along with two al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria.

The decree against the Brotherhood, whose Egyptian branch supported the deposed Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, was reported on Saudi state television on Friday.

Egypt in December listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, prompting the arrest of members and associates and forcing the Islamist group further underground.

Saudi Arabia also listed Jabhat al-Nusra, which is al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Sham) (ISIS), which has been disowned al-Qaeda, as “terrorist organizations”.

It also listed Shia Huthi rebels fighting in northern Yemen and the little-known internal Shia group, Hezbollah in the Hijaz.

Early in February, 2014, Ayman al Zawahiri at Al Qaeda Central announced that the global Islamic terrorist group had no association with ISIS, instead providing support for the Al Nusrah front fighting against the Assad regime in Syria.  ISIS however has rampaged across the Anbar province in neighboring Iraq overtaking the Sunni town of Fallujah.

About the same time as the AQ ISIS declaration, King Abdullah had announced new counterterrorism policies that were directed against so-called reform movements in the Saudi Kingdom. The Washington Post  reported the new law “states that any act that ‘undermines’  the state or society, including calls for regime change in Saudi Arabia, can be tried as an act of terrorism.” This Saudi law appears  to be in violation of human rights taken for granted in the West, but clearly viewed as seditious in the autocratic and Sharia compliant Wahhabist Kingdom.

These latest Saudi initiatives could have significant implications for the Obama Administration and Secretary Kerry. Kerry is endeavoring to fashion an Israel- Palestinian final status agreement and resolution of the 37 month civil war in Syria.  We noted earlier the presence of Louay Safi as spokesperson for the Syrian Opposition Council at the recent Geneva II plenum talks. Safi was Research Director at the northern Virginia- based MB supported International Islamic Institute of Thought. Moreover, he was also Leadership Development Director at the MB front, the Islamic Society of North America, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008  Federal Dallas  trial and convictions of leaders of the Holy Land Foundation. The Muslim charity group had been accused of funneling upwards of $35 million to MB affiliate Hamas. Safi was also invited by the US Army Chief of Staff to lecture troops on Islam at Fort Hood in early December 2009 following the massacre perpetrated by Maj. Nidal Hassan a month earlier. Clearly, Safi’s rise to prominence in the Syrian Opposition Council is indicative of the MB controlling presence.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and senior National Security Aides were present at the May 2012 meetings of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. They were engaged in outreach to MB officials from Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab states and facilitated assistance to ousted President Morsi. Obama Appointments of MB members, especially Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Policy, Arif Alikhan and Senior Advisory board member Mohamed Elibiary have been problematic. National Security Advisor Malley was a former Middle East foreign policy aide to President Clinton during the failed 2000 Camp David Israel-Palestinian negotiations between former Israeli PM Ehud Barak and the late Yassir Arafat. Malley had accused Israel of nixing the agreement, when it was evident that Arafat had purposely sabotaged it. Malley went on to become head of the Middle East and North African program of the International Crisis group and later advised then Senator Obama and was part of the President’s transition team. He holds views that may further complicate Administration Middle East policies.  Malley propounded speaking with terrorist proxies Hamas and Hezbollah as well as the MB. Malley, was recently appointed to the National Security Council. He has the portfolio for Israel -Palestinian peace talks and the Iran nuclear P5+1 diplomatic initiative.

Now that Egypt and Saudi Arabia have designated the MB as a terrorist group, would the Obama Administration dare follow their lead? How Messrs. McDonough, Malley and Secretary of State Kerry will contend with a plethora of problems arising from efforts by the Egyptian government and now the Saudi led GCC targeting the MB is a ‘puzzlement’.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Obama’s Faceoffs with Putin and Netanyahu

Washington was the center of contretemps over Putin’s seizure of Crimea and widening public differences with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

We recently interviewed Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute and reviewed of his new book Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes. (See The Peril of Engaging Rogue States: An Interview with Dr. Michael Rubin  and Engagement is Folly}.

Putin, according to Rubin is the consummate zero sum geo -politician. Diplomacy for the Kremlin thugocracy pales in comparison to unleashing military adventurism to recreate the former Soviet empire. Witness Georgia in 2008 with the severance of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and even the Kremlin support for Russian speaking breakaway state of Transnistria between the Ukraine and Moldavia. Remember Putin abhors NATO presence anywhere near the Russian sphere of influence. See the prescient title of a piece I wrote back in August 2008, Georgia: “Moscow Rules” and the West Wimps Out.  We had Bush and Condoleezza Rice back then.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) witnessed the transfer of nearly 2000 nuclear missiles to Russia followed by 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances by the UK, US and Russia that guaranteed Ukrainian sovereignty including the rights of Russian citizens who chose to live there.  Recently Russia negotiated the extension of the lease on the Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol from 2017 to 2042. The move was heavily criticized by the opposition forces now in power in Kiev.  By seizing the Crimea province from Ukraine, the Russian guarantee of Ukrainian sovereignty has been breached. Russian military exercises near Finland and the Ukraine are clear demonstrations of military force to send a message to the EU and the Obama White House West Wing not to dare send NATO forces to the Polish Ukrainian border. Thus, while there will be lots of economic sanctions and isolation rattling by Washington and Brussels, it is up to the G-8 and G-20 groups to consider ejection of Moscow, which will doubtless come up short.

Sochi may lose tourist revenues from the upcoming Paralympics, followed by the loss of the G-8 Summit in June and even the inaugural Russian Formula 1 race scheduled for August 2014.  Meanwhile the Moscow Stock Exchange and Ruble were punished in trading today. Whether that continues will be influenced by Putin’s contempt for the West and the threats by Obama that “there will be consequences”.  So, while Obama’s Russian reset strategy like his pivot to Asia and push for a Final Status agreement between Israel and the PA have been potential failures.

Just look at the interview with Obama by Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg about the President’s entreaties to Netanyahu to “seize the moment and make peace”. This included  a veiled no veto threat by the US should the PA, as suggested in the Oxford Union remarks of PA negotiator Saeb Erekat on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head program of last Friday,  might opt for accession to the UN Security Council for statehood.

This would let 5 million Palestinian UNWRA refugees file for compensation against Israel.  Further, the PA could file a case for crimes against humanity brought before the International Criminal Court at The Hague the day after the April 29 deadline is passed for an agreement set by Secretary of State Kerry.  Even the brief comments by Obama and Netanyahu in the Oval Office about “tough choices” versus non helpful Palestinian moves sent a chilling message.  (See this CBS news report, here).

Tomorrow, we shall see what happens when Netanyahu speaks to 14,000 delegates at the AIPAC Policy Conference following Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ)   speech. They would urge the delegates to scamper up Capitol Hill to convince their Senators and Representatives to pass the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, S. 1881 co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Menendez. Problem is that Iran may already have its nukes given a decade long cooperative weapons development and ICBM program with North Korea. Read my article; Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea?

As to Israel’s capabilities, realize that it already has ICBMs – the nuclear equipped Jericho III.  Yes, as the ancient Chinese curse goes, “may you live in interesting times”.

RELATED COLUMN: ‘Delusional’: Krauthammer Slams Obama Admin’s Belief that Putin has ‘Blinked’ on Ukraine

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.