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U.S. State Department Genocide Victim Ruling Excludes Middle East Christians

Nina Shea of the Washington, D.C.-based Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedman is the most outspoken critic of Administration policies towards Middle Eastern Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities.  The latest episode concerns a proposed ruling by the State Department of minorities threatened by extinction by the Islamic State, as a predicate for possible rescue, asylum determinations and assistance. Incredibly this ruling excludes, those Christians in Syria and Iraq, who are threatened with extinction by ISIS barbarity.. Shea writes about this in a National Review On-line article, “ISIS Genocide Victims Do Not Include Christians, the State Department Is Poised to Rule.

The State Department official poised to issue the ruling is none other than Anne Patterson, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, and now Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Near East Affairs. Patterson was a controversial figure and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader.

Shea cites an investigative  report by Michael Isikoff about the callous rationale behind why Patterson chose to Include Yazidis, but exclude Syriac and, especially Chaldean Christians:

Yazidis, according to the story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, are going to be officially recognized as genocide victims, and rightly so. Yet Christians, who are also among the most vulnerable religious minority groups that have been deliberately and mercilessly targeted for eradication by ISIS, are not. This is not an academic matter. A genocide designation would have significant policy implications for American efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid, asylum, and other protections to such victims. Worse, it would mean that, under the Genocide Convention, the United States and other governments would not be bound to act to suppress or even prevent the genocide of these Christians.

The rationale for Patterson ruling:

An unnamed State Department official was quoted by Isikoff as saying that only the attacks on Yazidis have made “the high bar” of the genocide standard and as pointing to the mass killing of 1,000 Yazidi men and the enslavement of thousands of Yazidi women and girls. To propose that Christians have been simply driven off their land but not suffered similar fates is deeply misinformed. In fact, the last Christians to pray in the language spoken by Jesus are also being deliberately targeted for extinction through equally brutal measures. Christians have been executed by the thousands. Christian women and girls are vulnerable to sexual enslavement. Many of their clergy have been assassinated and their churches and ancient monasteries demolished or desecrated. They have been systematically stripped of all their wealth, and those too elderly or sick to flee ISIS-controlled territory have been forcibly converted to Islam or killed, such as an 80-year-old woman who was burned to death for refusing to abide by ISIS religious rules.

Shea notes the clear evidence of ISIS atrocities against  Christian communities in Syria and Iraq;

ISIS atrocities against Christians became public in June 2014 when the jihadists stamped Christian homes in Mosul with the red letter N for “Nazarene” and began enforcing its “convert or die” policy. The atrocities continue. Recently the Melkite Catholic bishop of Aleppo reported that 1,000 Christians, including two Orthodox bishops, have been kidnapped and murdered in his city alone. In September, ISIS executed, on videotape, three Assyrian Christian men and threatened to do the same to 200 more being held captive by the terrorist group. Recent reports by an American Christian aid group state that several Christians who refused to renounce their faith were raped, beheaded, or crucified a few months ago.

Christian women and girls are also enslaved and sexually abused. Three Christian females sold in ISIS slave markets were profiled in a New York Times Magazine report last summer. ISIS rules allow Christian sabaya, that is, their sexual enslavement. Its magazine Dabiq explicitly approved the enslavement of Christian girls in Nigeria, and the jihadist group posted prices for Christian, as well as Yazidi, female slaves in Raqqa.

The Congressional response to the State Department exclusion of Christians-  H.R. 75:

In recent weeks, the stalwart Knights of Columbus have been placing emotionally searing ads in Politico and elsewhere advocating the passage of H.R. 75.

This bipartisan bill was initiated by Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R., Neb.) and Representative Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.) to declare that genocide is being faced by Christians, Yazidis, and other vulnerable groups. The ads — depicting a mother and child, who appear as the very personifications of grief, against a landscape of ISIS destruction — might strike a nerve within the Obama administration. But as of now, the administration looks poised to preempt the bill and render a grave injustice to the suffering Christians of Iraq and Syria.

One who knows how dangerous this misbegotten ruling by Patterson is Joseph Kassab, President of the Iraqi Christian Advocacy and Empowerment Institution. (See out interview with Kassab in the November, NER: Iraqi Christians Face Extinction.  Note this exchange with Kassab:

Gordon:  How threatening is the ISIS genocide towards Assyrian–Chaldean Christian communities in both Iraq and Syria?

Kassab:  ISIS brutalities and atrocities committed against innocent Christians and Yazidis in Iraq is a very serious issue that needs to be immediately confronted by the international community. These evil acts of ISIS are leading to serious cultural and human genocide. ISIS’ acts of brutality are intentional to gain the attention of the world and the global media is falling for it. Our suggestion is not to fall for it as it is better to look into their evil Islamic ideology and expose it to the world.

Kassab voiced  prescient concern about the fate of his Chaldean Christian  co-religionists following the fall of Mosul to ISIS in June 2014. Watch this  You Tube Overview video interview by Raymond Arroyo with Kassab. Note Kassab’s prediction of the fate that may already  have be fallen Iraqi Christians, extinction;  if assistance is not speedily  forthcoming from the Administration.

Over a year has passed since Iraqi Christians fled from Mosul and the Biblical Nineveh plains. They languish ill-housed as urban refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. They are without prospects for sanctuary in the West and Diaspora, because they allegedly do not qualify for asylum status under UN definitions applied by the State Department Bureau of population, Migration and Refugees.  Now, Assistant Secretary Patterson is poised to deprive Syrian and Iraqi Christians of sanctuary here in the US. Despite, as Kassab has demonstrated they have been vetted and accredited for possible P2/P3 Family reunification Visas.

The mean-spiritedness of Patterson and the State Department may assign these ancient Christian minorities to possible extinction with this proposed Genocide ruling. Their behavior is appalling and beyond contempt. All Americans should be outraged. They should press for passage of H.R. 75 by the House effectively rebuking this incredulous State Department proposed ruling.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of the two blindfolded men, shaved by Islamic militants, who were crucified for their belief in Christianity.

Does Obama’s Presidential Directive Mandate Outreach to Islamists?

Waleed Sharaby, is a secretary-general of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council   State Department  1-1-27-15(1)

Waleed Sharaby, Secretary General of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council Flashes Rabia MB resistance sign. U.S. State Department Jan. 27, 2015 Source: Facebook screenshot.

Our NER colleague Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein has called Obama, “the most radical American President, ever”. That was in an interview we conducted with him in 2010 that went viral on YouTube. One of the reasons for Dr. Rubenstein’s assessment was the extent to which the President had surrounded himself with like minded senior staff and advisers who condoned outreach to the Muslim Ummah. That was evident early in his first Administration given a trip to Ankara in April 2009, followed by his address at Cairo University in June where he declared a new foreign policy accommodating the concept of Islamist Democracy.  Dr. Rubenstein’s major book on Jihad and Genocide elucidated the anti-Democratic underpinning of Qur’anic doctrine.  Especially concerning him were the Muslim Brotherhood and derivatives, Al Qaeda, Hamas and the Shia Mahdist apocalyptic doctrine espoused by the Islamic Regime in Iran.  A revolutionary Islamist regime bent on achieving nuclear hegemony and possible destruction of Israel.  He also ascribed the President’s willingness to accommodate these views because of his early introduction to Islam as the adopted son of an Indonesian oil executive in his late mother’s second marriage. Rubenstein’s prescient analysis depicted President Obama accommodating Islamist movements as a peculiar form of demopathy, using both violent and civilizational jihad.  That is reflected in his Presidential Policy and Study Directives.

Dan Greenfield  delved into the underpinnings of the Obama radical accommodation of Islamism in a Frontpage Magazine article published on June 8, 2015 entitled, “Directive 11: Obama’s Secret Islamist Plan”:

Directive 11 brought together activists and operatives at multiple agencies to come up with a “tailored” approach for regime change in each country. The goal was to “manage” the political transitions. It tossed aside American national security interests by insisting that Islamist regimes would be equally committed to fighting terrorism and cooperating with Israel. Its greatest gymnastic feat may have been arguing that the best way to achieve political stability in the region was through regime change.

What little we know about the resulting classified 18-page report is that it used euphemisms to call for aiding Islamist takeovers in parts of the Middle East. Four countries were targeted. Of those four, we only know for certain that Egypt and Yemen were on the list. But we do know for certain the outcome.

Egypt fell to the Muslim Brotherhood, which collaborated with Al Qaeda, Hamas and Iran, before being undone by a counterrevolution. Yemen is currently controlled by Iran’s Houthi terrorists and Al Qaeda.

We have witnessed what the secretive Presidential Directive 11 has achieved in public and private meetings with radical Muslim Brotherhood clerics and leaders, both during and following the Arab Spring revolt in these countries from 2010 to the present. To facilitate the objectives of Directive 11 Obama had brought onto his White House and Department staffs members of MB affiliates in the US. He also reached out to academic centers promoting the views that there were “good Islamists”. Groups like the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy  at Georgetown University, headed by Prof. John Esposito, funded in part by the State Department.  After a New York Federal Appeals court decision in 2009, the Administration lifted a visa ban inviting Oxford University Professor Tariq Ramadan, a grandson of the founder of the MB, Hassan al Banna, to participate in CSID forums and take an endowed Chair at Notre Dame University.

Egypt elected in June 2012 an Islamist government headed by former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi that sought to impose Sharia law on the Constitution. The Morsi government stealthily backed MB jihad pogroms against the Coptic Christian minority burning churches, destroying businesses, murdering men, raping and forcing conversion on female victims.  Ironically, Morsi’s Defense Minister, Col. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al- Sisi rejected Islamism and led a coup on July 3, 2013 jailing and prosecuting hundreds of Muslim Brother leaders including Morsi.  Many of whom, including Morsi are now awaiting possible death sentences for a massive jail break that freed them in January 2011.  Al Sisi in a dramatic January 2015 speech at Al Azhar University raised the matter of reform of Qur’an doctrine before an audience composed of leading Sunni clerics at Al Azhar University in Cairo.  Despite this Egyptian counter-revolution both the US National  Security Staff and State Department  invited former Muslim Brotherhood  Morsi regime political figures and clerics to assist in developing ‘messaging’ to contend with  Al Qaeda,  its affiliates and the self-declared  Islamic  State. We wrote about those instances in NER articles and Iconoclast blogs. What follows are the latest episodes arising from Obama’s Presidential Directive 11.  One concerns the withdrawal of funding of a US backed program seeking to create an alternative Shia civil polity to Iranian proxy Hezbollah that dominates Lebanon.  The other concerns the kerfuffle surrounding meetings of Muslim Brotherhood leaders in both January 2015 at the State Department and private meetings at the CSID in Washington this June.

U.S. withdrew aid to Lebanese Shia NGO seeking to extricate them from the clutches of Hezbollah. 

Lebanon next door to Israel appears to be dominated by Iran’s proxy Hezbollah that has infiltrated the country’s military.  This is a disheartening failure in the wake of the 2005 Cedars Revolution in Lebanon prompted by the assassination of Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. Hariri was assassinated by Syrian intelligence agents of the Assad régime.  With the plummeting Christian population in Lebanon, demise of the former Amal Shia militia, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah filled the vacuum backed with hundreds of millions of dollars of annual support from Iran. An Iran that delivered hundreds of thousands of weapons, coupled with North Korean expertise building tunnels and fortifications in Sothern Lebanon. Nasrallah’s recklessness triggered the Second Lebanon War in 2006 with the abduction and murder of two Israeli IDF reservists.

Despite Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon there had been a limited US program seeking to arouse Shia opposition to Hezbollah through the auspices of the State Department funded International Republican Institute (IRI), chaired by US. Senator John McCain, (R-AZ).  IRI, like the International Democratic Institute counterpart, seeks to advance democracy abroad.  Both Institutes are outgrowths of the successful program in the 1980s that toppled the Polish Communist regime with church and Solidarity Movement support.  Unfortunately, in the wake of the Arab Spring  both Institutes had  been involved in training  candidates for the predominately Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist dominated Egyptian parliament elected  with now  ousted  President  Mohammed Morsi  in June 2012.  They were subsequently purged when the Morsi regime was overthrown a year later in July 2013 in a coup led by now Egyptian President Al-Sisi.

The Lebanese anti-Nasrallah Hayya Bina Shia program, funded by the IRI, lost US funding that it had received since 2007. According to the Wall Street Journal, it received $640,000 between June 2013 and December 2015.  The IRI notified Hayya Bina director Lokman Slim in April 2015 that the Obama Administration was terminating its support for the program.  The letter Slim received from the IRI read, “the State Department requests that all activities intended [to] foster an independent moderate Shia voice be ceased immediately and indefinitely”.  Could it be that as Obama moves closer to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah given the looming P5+1 nuclear agreement, that it will brook no local dissent in Lebanon among the Shia?  That should not be surprising.  Obama’s Middle East policy czar, Robert Malley, during his stint at the Soros-funded International Crisis Group held discussions with Hezbollah. Despite the later being on the State Department list of designated terrorist organizations.

Egypt objects to continuing Muslim Brotherhood Washington visits with U.S. officials

The Egyptian government has been angered by continued meetings of former Muslim Brotherhood leaders with State Department funded groups and, in some instances, with White House National Security staff.   In January 2015, the State Department hosted a visiting delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders from the former Morsi government.  Prior to and following his ouster, the White House National Security team and the State Department met with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood clerics and legislator who was a former terrorist.

On June 8, 2015 the Egyptian foreign ministry requested an audience with US Ambassador to Cairo R. Stephen Beecroft  to express concern and outrage at the visit of another Muslim Brotherhood delegation to Washington.    State Department Jeff Rathke  spokesperson  was peppered  with  questions by  journalists at  Daily Press Briefings on both June 9th and 10th, about the Cairo foreign ministry  meetings with Ambassador Beecroft  and private meetings in Washington  at  the (CSID).  Rathke responded to one such question saying:

Well, again, we’ve met with this group in the past. We haven’t changed our policy. We will continue to meet with groups across the political spectrum. No – but we don’t have any plans to meet with this group at this particular time.

Watch this C-Span video clip of a June 9, 2015 State Department Daily Press Briefing with Press Spokesman Jeff Rathke in an exchange with journalists:

John Rossomando in an Investigative Project on Terrorism article noted the members of the Muslim Brotherhood delegation and the involvement of the CSID:

Egypt sought the recent meeting with Ambassador Stephen Beecroft to show its displeasure with American policy toward the Brotherhood, which it labels a terrorist organization.

Delegation members include Amr Darrag, whose handling of drafting and ratifying Egypt’s December 2012 constitution led to fears the Brotherhood aimed to impose a theocracy; and Wael Haddara, a Canadian Brotherhood member who served as an adviser to deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

Referencing the earlier January meetings, the IPT article noted:

Emails obtained by Middle East Briefing, a publication of the Dubai-based Orient Advisory Group, show that since 2010, Obama administration policy sought to support the Muslim Brotherhood under Presidential Study Directive 11.

State Department and White House officials met in January with a Muslim Brotherhood delegation whose trip had been partly funded by the Brotherhood-linked group Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ). EAFJ leader Mahmoud El Sharkawy is a member of the Brotherhood’s international organization and serves as liaison between his group and Brotherhood members exiled in Turkey, Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper reported in April.

Former State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed the visit and denied it was a Brotherhood delegation, saying it was a delegation of former Egyptian parliamentarians which included members of the Freedom and Justice Party. Delegation member Waleed Sharaby said in a February interview with Egypt’s Mekameleen TV that the State Department agreed with their position that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi had not brought stability and that his removal would pave the way for a transition to democracy.

Conclusion:

President Obama, Robert Malley, and State Department Assistant Secretary for Near East Policy, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, have led this country dangerously astray believing there are ‘good Islamists’ like the Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s proxies. By extension that would include the Islamic Republic of Iran on the verge of becoming a nuclear hegemon. This has jeopardized relations with valued allies in the region, Israel, the Kurds in Iraq, Sunni members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Egyptian Al Sisi government. Is this part of a radical plan by the President to insinuate Islamic theocratic doctrine upending Judeo Christian values at the core of our Constitution?

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