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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.

Life long Opponent of Israel appointed as Obama’s Senior Assistant

Robert Malley has been a controversial policy insider and opponent of Israel in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations. Malley faulted Israel for the collapse of the 2000 Peace negotiations with former Israeli PM Ehud Barak at Camp David stoking the late Yassir Arafat to opt for the Second Intifada.

Last Friday, the White House announced his new position as Senior Assistant to  the President  coordinating policies of North Africa, the Middle East and Iran nuclear negotiations. He replaces Phillip Gordon (no relation). He was recently involved in meetings with Rice and Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen in the run up to Israeli PM Netanyahu’s address to the Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd.

Look upon Malley’s promotion as a bad omen for worsening relations with Israel unless Netanyahu is not  elected for a third term on March 17th.  He was brought back to the Obama National Security Council in 2013 as a deputy to Gordon who had the MENA portfolio. There had been adverse criticism of his role as foreign policy adviser to President Obama in the 2008 Presidential campaign on Israel issues. He was accused of having held discussions with Iran proxies Hezbollah and Hamas. In the interim before his return to the NSC, he had an equivalent post at the International Crisis Group. His parents, while both Jewish, were leftists who supported pro-Arab anti-Israel activities in both Egypt and Algeria.

The Times of Israel (TOI) reported last weekend on this latest move by the Administration to isolate Israel under the current Netanyahu government, White House names Israel critic to top Mideast post:

The White House named Robert Malley, a U.S. negotiator at the 2000 Camp David talks, to lead the Middle East desk at the National Security Council. Malley, whose appointment was announced on Friday afternoon, since last year has handled the Iraq-Iran-Syria-Gulf States desk. In replacing Philip Gordon, who has been Middle East coordinator since 2013, he assumes responsibility for Israel and the Palestinians as well as North Africa and the Persian Gulf.

He also assumes a more senior title, moving from senior director to special assistant. Malley already deals with Israel, and has attended meetings on the Iran-nuclear issue between his boss, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and her Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen.

We wrote about Malley’s foreign policy advisor background in a March 2014 Iconoclast post, Saudi-led Gulf Squabble Spells Trouble for Obama?

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 Muslim Brotherhood. Malley, was appointed in 2013 to the National Security Council. He had the portfolio for Israel-Palestinian peace talks and the Iran nuclear P5+1 diplomatic initiative.

In  October 2009, we noted his family background and Soros connections in a post Robert Malley and Benny Morris debate One State/Two State Solution at Skidmore College:

Malley is Jewish on both sides. His father was a Mizrahi from Syria who became an Egyptian journalist and was alleged to be an Egyptian Communist party member who fled to France, where young Malley was raised. Malley’s mother was a US Jewish leftist who worked for the Algerian FLN UN delegation. Check out his bio here.  He is a former Middle East adviser to President Clinton on the Camp David 2000 debacle. He alleged that Israel was at fault, rather than the late Yassir Arafat head of the Fatah-PLO, in the failure to achieve a peace accord during the abortive Camp David discussions. That opinion was not shared by former President Clinton and Amb. Dennis Ross, formerly on the Obama NSC staff.  Malley was a mainstay at the International Crisis Group (ICG) supported by George Soros who sits on the ICG board. Malley has been a prominent proponent of ‘engagement’ with Iran proxies Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. He was a controversial informal foreign policy advisor during the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign.

Watch this brief You Tube video of Malley in an excerpt from a 2009 documentary discussing outreach to  Hamas:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Robert Malley newly appointed White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. Image source: YouTube.

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.