Tag Archive for: Saudi Arabia

Will Republicans Protest and Litigate to Stop Iran Nuclear Pact?

stop iran rally september 9thWhere there were five undeclared Democrat Senators on the cusp of reconvening Congress, today there is only one, Ms. Cantwell from Washington State. Three Democrat Senators: Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Gary Price of Michigan declared for the President’s position. Two of the three Democrat Senators who declared for the President position, Blumenthal and Wyden are up for re-election in 2016, while Price is not. The lone Democrat who joined with the Republican majority to oppose the Iran Pact is West Virginia Senator, Joe Manchin.

In a statement released by his office, Manchin said, “I believe that to be a super power, you must possess super diplomatic skills, and I believe that we can use these skills to negotiate a better deal.”

That leaves possibly 58 Senators, 54 Republicans and four Democrats opposing the Iran nuclear pact. That is two shy of the required 60 votes for cloture under the current Senate Rule 22 to cut off a filibuster. A vote on the majority resolutions rejecting the Iran pact could be scheduled as early as Thursday. That is, if the promised filibuster led by Senator Minority Democrat Leader Reid doesn’t stop the vote first.

Reid unleashed the filibuster option on Saturday, September 5th. White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said Tuesday, September 8th:

It would be a little ironic for now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to express concerns about a tactic that he, himself, employed on countless occasions. The other thing that I’ll point out is that the 60 vote threshold is actually one that was approved by the 98 senators who voted for the Corker-Cardin legislation back in the spring.

Opponents of the Iran nuclear pact circulated a letter on Capitol Hill today signed by 15 governors including  four  Republican hopefuls; Jindal of Louisiana, Christie of New Jersey, Kasich of Ohio and Walker of Wisconsin.  Republican majority and other opponents of the filibuster floor maneuver by minority Democrats criticize it for denying an up or down vote on the measure that Americans in leading polls taken by a 2 to 1 margin have urged Congress to reject the Iran deal.  Harvard law professor emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case Against the Iran Deal said in a Steve Malzberg Show interview on NewsMax TV, September 3, 2015:

As an opponent of the deal, a filibuster would be a good result because it would deny legitimacy to the deal. The American public is not going to accept a deal that was filibustered. Let’s remember what a filibuster is. It was a southern strategy designed to undo democracy and to offend equality.

Dershowitz drew attention to the quandary that Israel and PM Netanyahu would face if the Iran pact was approved:

I know Benjamin Netanyahu. I’ve known him since 1973. He is not going to sit back and allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

This deal makes it much harder for Israel to defend its people.

In a Washington Post opinion article by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), member of the House Permanent Intelligence Committee, and Constitutional lawyer, David B. Rivkin, Jr.  Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued that the failure to deliver a side deal might void the Iran pact. Further they raised the prospect of   possible litigation against the President on the grounds that the he didn’t deliver the requisite information. They were especially concerned about the IAEA side agreements with Iran to prepare a Road Map on prior military developments. Aversion of which was leaked with provisions for self inspection at the military site of Parchin, Iran.  That Road Map is a condition for release of $100 billion in sequestered funds held by US and foreign financial institutions.    Switzerland has already released their sanctions and Russia and China are poised to release their holdings. The EU3 component of the P5+1 are already in discussions with Tehran over billions of trade deals preventing a possible snap back of sanctions should Iran be found cheating on a sneak out to a nuclear weapon.  A weapon that some believe it may already have and be able to possibly via a satellite launch.

The Pompeo- Rivkin Washington Post opinion was earlier supported by Jerome Marcus, Esq. in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, An Informed Vote on the Iran Deal.”  Marcus suggested  based on his experience as a young lawyer assisting former State Department counsel, Abraham Sofaer in the Reagan era,   executive agreements like JCPOA with far reaching implications should be treated as if it was a treaty.  Marcus concluded:

The lesson for today is clear: When a legislative body is deciding whether to approve an international agreement, especially one as important as the recent nuclear agreement with Iran, its members have the right to access the agreement’s negotiating record. Members of Congress should demand that record now, and they should examine it, before they cast their votes.

To bring such a suit Dr. Robert B. Sklaroff and Lee S. Bender, Esq. suggested in a FrontpageMagazine article that the Senate Majority Leader, McConnell should undertake the following steps:

Emergency Prescription for Senate:  [1]—Pass rule that abolishes the filibuster; [2]—Pass resolution declaring the Iran nuke deal to be a “treaty”; [3]—Defeat the deal; and [4]—Sue President Obama to enjoin him from implementing the deal.

The procedures for initiating the first critical step, achieving cloture cutting off the threatened filibuster, are contained in two relevant Congressional Research Service reports; Considerations for Changes in Senate Rules by Richard S. Beth, January 2013 and Filibusters and Cloture by Beth and Valerie Heitschusen, December 2014.

Sklaroff heard Dershowitz at a presentation in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on September 2nd.  He reported on Dershowitz’s remarks and response:

On September 2, Dershowitz, at the Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, N.J., amplified on this viewpoint, quoting Federalist 64:  “The power of making treaties is an important one, especially as it relates to war, peace, and commerce; and it should not be delegated but in such a mode, and with such precautions, as will afford the highest security that it will be exercised by men the best qualified for the purpose, and in the manner most conducive to the public good.”

When I [discussed] with him the necessity to sue Obama, he initially raised concern that this would be discarded as a “political question.” “Who would sue?” he asked rhetorically. “Senator McConnell!” said I. “Well, it’s a possibility, because he would have standing, representing the Senate.”

Has such a suit been brought by the Senate against President Obama and the Supreme Court ruled on the matter of executive overreach of lawful authorities?   There is the example of the Supreme Court   June 2014 unanimous ruling against the President for his three day recess appointment of National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Protection officials in 2012 that required approval by  the Senate.  The original matter was brought by a Washington State bottler and a decision rendered in the DC US Circuit Court of Appeals by Judge David B. Sentelle. Note the comments of the Republican Counsel for the Senate and then Senate Majority Leader Reid from a Washington Post article:

Miguel Estrada, who represented Senate Republicans in the case, called the ruling a victory for the Senate. “The Supreme Court reaffirmed the Senate’s power to prescribe its own rules, including the right to determine for itself when it is in session, and rejected the President’s completely unprecedented assertion of unilateral appointment power,” he said.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Senate Republicans for denying nominees a chance to be confirmed through a vote of the full chamber. “President Obama did the right thing when he made these appointments on behalf of American workers.”

Tomorrow, September 9, 2015, Democrat Presidential front runner Hillary Clinton former Secretary of State, embroiled in a private email server controversy, will make the case for support of the President’s position.  She has previously gone on record saying:

The Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese, they’re gonna say we agreed with the Americans, I guess their president can’t make foreign policy. That’s a very bad signal to send.

Clinton will be a minor distraction from the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) Stop Iran Now Rally chaired by Jenny Beth Martin on the West Lawn of the US Capitol Building with a cast of media luminaries in the opposition camp.  The event is co-sponsored by TPP, Zionist Organization of America and the Center for Security Policy. The roster of those speaking includes TPP head Martin, Republican Presidential front runner Donald Trump, fellow Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-TX), Conservative talk show Hosts Glen Beck and Mark Levin, David Bossie of Citizens United, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Chairman of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, former CIA-director, Ambassador R. James Woolsey, Chairman of the FDD, Frank Gaffney of the CSP, Sarah Stern of EMET and Mort Klein of the ZoA. This will be a media spectacle.

Late this afternoon, my colleague at 1330amWEBY Mike Bates, host of “Your Turn”, and I reviewed these developments.  Listen to the WEBY audio segment here.  Bates observed that the motivation behind these political maneuverings was President Obama’s objective all along to bolster Iran’s position in the Middle East as a recognized nuclear threshold state threatening traditional support for Allies in the region, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt. Bates thought the Reid filibuster play was simply a travesty of politics as usual in Washington.   In turn we both discussed the strange case of Florida US. Representative and Democratic National Committee head, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, who has infuriated segments of her large but divided Jewish constituency.  In her public statement she said tearfully that from her “Jewish heart” the Iran pact, as defective as it is, was the correct thing to do.  We concurred that the filibuster if not upended by a Republican cloture to force an up or down vote would enable her and other Democrat colleagues up for re-election in 2016 to claim that there was never a vote. Political cover that comes at a high price of Iran receiving tens of billions now with promises of trillions in economic trade benefits. All while harboring secret development of nuclear weapons threatening the U.S. and Israel.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear Program to North Korea

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

Will The Trash Crisis In Lebanon Bring Hezbollah to Power?

Trash has been piling up in the streets of Beirut for nearly two months.  This weekend violence erupted in the Grand Serail in central Beirut with the Army rushing in with water cannons to quell the crowds; dozens were reported injured.  An alleged non –sectarian activist group “You Stink” is directing its ire at the government, which lacks a President, usually a Maronite Christian in the confessional political system of Lebanon.  The Sunni premier, Tammam Salam is under fire, as Cabinet Ministers rejected new tenders to end the trash dispute.

Noteworthy is the alliance between Hezbollah’s and the Christian Maronite group Lebanon Forces are suggesting that a new government be elected, despite the postponement of a national election till 2017.  Such is the topsy turvy politics in Lebanon’s enigmatic political system, given the overarching problems of contending with Hezbollah involvement in the Iranian regime backed alliance with Syria’s Assad. The Lebanese trash crisis gives new meaning to the well tuned phrase by 19th Century American journalist, Charles Dudley Warner: “politics make strange bedfellows.” Despite the alleged resilience and durability of the Lebanese confessional political system, could failure to obtain new tenders for the removal of stinking piles of trash on the streets of Lebanon’s cities result in Hezbollah emerging as the eminence grise behind a new government in Beirut?

Reuters has the latest developments in the roiling trash dispute turned violent, Lebanese ministers walk out of meeting over garbage crisis:”

The powerful Shi’ite party Hezbollah and its Christian allies walked out of an emergency Lebanese cabinet meeting on Tuesday in protest at a proposed solution to a garbage disposal crisis that has ignited violent protests in Beirut.

The national unity government led by Prime Minister Tammam Salam also canceled a tender to select new refuse collection firms, underscoring the difficulties it faces overcoming the crisis that has brought popular calls for it to step down.

Public anger that has come to a head over the trash crisis turned violent at the weekend, with scores of protesters and security forces injured. Salam has threatened to resign, expressing frustration at the failings of his cabinet, which groups Lebanon’s rival parties.

Failure to agree a solution to the crisis has laid bare wider political stagnation in Lebanon, where sectarian and power rivalries have been exacerbated by Syria’s four-year-old conflict.

Ministers including members of Hezbollah and Christian politician Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement walked out of Tuesday’s emergency meeting, the information minister said.

Hezbollah in a statement slammed the “mounting and worsening corruption” it said the garbage crisis reflected.

A government statement released after the walkout said tenders announced on Monday to award contracts for waste disposal to private companies had “included high costs”, and had therefore been rejected.

Media reports and activists had accused the cabinet of awarding the contracts to a number of companies based on regional and political affiliation, reflecting alleged corruption and politicization of the issue.

The government said that as a temporary measure rubbish, which has festered on the streets of Beirut, would be tipped in Akkar province in north Lebanon, in return for a $100 million “sum” that would go toward development projects in that region.

The information minister said it was the proposed sum that triggered the walkout. Akkar, one of the poorest regions in Lebanon, is mostly Sunni but also has many Christian areas.

You stink cartoon Daily Star

“You Stink” Cartoon. Source: The Daily Star, Beirut

Worsening problems emerge in the trash crisis.

Beirut-based activists from the “You Stink” campaign held two large rallies over the weekend and a smaller march on Monday, with calls for a solution to the rubbish crisis quickly turning into calls for the cabinet to resign.

Protest organizers have called on Lebanese at home and abroad to join them in a large rally on Saturday.

Lebanon’s army commander General Jean Kahwaji said late on Monday the armed forces would protect any peaceful demonstrations but would not tolerate “security violators or infiltrators” who sought to sow “sedition and chaos.”

Organizers of protests, which began peacefully, have blamed the violence on troublemakers whom they say are connected to rival sectarian parties. The U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon on Monday urged “maximum restraint” by all sides.

Calm has prevailed since the weekend clashes, however, and later Tuesday, workers were removing concrete blast walls erected the day before outside the cabinet headquarters which protesters had covered with colorful anti-government graffiti.

The protest campaign, which has mobilized independently of the big sectarian parties that dominate Lebanese politics, blames political feuding and corruption for the failure to resolve the crisis that has left piles of uncollected garbage stinking in the scorching sun in recent weeks.

The cabinet and parliament are deadlocked, and politicians have been unable to agree on a new president for more than a year while Syria’s war next door has aggravated sectarian tensions and driven more than one million refugees into the country.

The Salam cabinet, formed last year with the blessing of regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, has avoided a complete vacuum in the executive arm. It brings together Sunni Muslim former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s Future movement, Shi’ite Hezbollah and Christians.

Mordechai Nisan

Dr. Mordechai Nisan

But it has struggled to take even basic decisions and tension in cabinet has escalated over appointments in the security agencies and army.

This latest crisis comes as we are about to publish in the September edition of the NER   a book review and interview with Dr. Mordechai Nisan, a well published author  lecturer and  respected Israeli expert on Lebanon and minorities in the Middle East. In our interview with Nisan we asked a question about the survivability of the 80 year confessional political system in Lebanon. Here is the exchange:

Gordon:  Did the assassination of Lebanese PM Hariri and the Cedars Revolution of 2005 spell the demise of the confessional system in Lebanon?

Nisan:      The durability of Lebanon’s confessional political system remains in place. It is both traditional and consensual that the President be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of the Legislature a Shiite Muslim. These arrangements have persevered for some 80 years as an organic model for the special case of Lebanon.

In our review of his latest book, Politics and War in Lebanon: Unraveling the Enigma, we noted Nisan’s concluding commentary set against the background to the present political crisis:

With a vacant presidential post and parliamentary elections postponed until 2017, trouble looms for the country caught up in the vicissitudes of the Syrian civil war spilling over its borders bringing a flood of refugees and a roiling trash crisis.Nisan wrote about a hopeful sign, “The March 14 camp asked Patriarch Beshara a – Ra’I to suggest names for the presidential post. Maybe somehow two Maronites –patriarch and president would help save the country from oblivion.” The expression in Hebrew is, Alevai. Its English meaning, “That should only be.”

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

Saudi Arabia on Religious Freedom: Butt out. Stay out. Keep out. Got it?

blasphemy lawsSaudi Arabia shows its jaw-dropping hypocrisy as it moves to impose “anti-blasphemy” laws on the non-Muslim world.

That’s the message from Saudi Arabia. Do not meddle in their internal affairs.

If they want to lop off heads, leave them alone. If they want to flog their apostates, what’s that to you? And if they want to shred the hands of people reading the Bible, at least they’re not your hands.

So shut up.

Canadian officials heard that message loudly when they decided to criticize Saudi Arabia for torturing a blogger, Raif Badawi, with 1,000 lashes for criticizing the kingdom’s religious clerics.

The Saudi ambassador told Canada’s National Assembly that his country “does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs.”

Sweden tried the same thing. Its foreign minister described the flogging of Badawi as a “cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression.”

Sweden got the same royal treatment. Saudi Arabia stomped its feet in the sand and called the criticism a “flagrant interference in internal affairs.”

But just try building a church there.

We out here in the free world should all get it. Don’t try swimming in the sands of Saudi Arabia.

Then why should we pay any attention to a Saudi attempt to meddle in our affairs?

Last month the Saudi director-general for external relations called on all nations – yes, all nations – to adopt laws banning “blasphemy.”

In a wordy statement, Director-General Sheikh Abdul Majeed Al-Omari declared:

“We have made it clear that freedom of expression without limits or restrictions would lead to violation and abuse of religious and ideological rights. This requires everyone to criminalize insulting heavenly religions, prophets, holy books, religious symbols and places of worship.”

This is stupid on so many levels that the Kingdom should be renamed the King-dumb.

First, they voice concern that freedom of expression could somehow lead to the abuse of religious and ideological rights. They need to get down off their high camels and examine the stupidity of this statement.

Saudi Arabia doesn’t need to look “outside” to find freedom of expression leading to the abuse of religious and ideological rights.

It only needs to look inside. It can start by pointing its camel-nose directly at Raif Badawi, whose only crime was to write insulting blog posts about Saudi religious clerics.

So here’s the thinking, in all its Saudi logic. It’s the only way their statement could possibly make sense:

Raif Badawi wrote blog material that King-dumb authorities say involved “ridiculing Islamic religious figures” and “going beyond the realm of disobedience.”

For this crime of expressing himself freely, Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, to be meted out 50 lashes per week for 20 weeks. This is abuse – no doubt. So do you see? Freedom of expression can lead to the “abuse of religious and ideological rights.”

It’s twisted logic, but what else can we expect from the twisted minds of the Saudis, who still believe that Christians are “swine” and that Jews are “apes”?

In his demand that all nations adopt blasphemy laws, the director-general also wants to “criminalize insulting heavenly religions, prophets, holy books, religious symbols and places of worship.”

What? Noble? A girl?

This bold statement comes from a nation that criminalizes apostasy, carrying a Bible, building churches and – get this – naming a child Alice, Sandy or Lauren. These are “blasphemous names” in Saudi Arabia, which means that to bestow one of them on your offspring is to risk a date with the swordsman.

Alice is forbidden because it means “noble.” Only the Saudi royalty is noble, you understand, not some pipsqueak baby girl. Sandy means “defender of men.” So it’s obvious why that name is banned. Lauren means “crowned with laurels.” When’s the last time you’ve seen the Saudis crown a girl?

In fact, there are 50 “blasphemous” names in Saudi Arabia.

Should the Saudis really be in charge of leading the world on criminalizing blasphemy? This is a country that still will not let women drive. It’s punishable by up to 10 lashes.

Imagine what a Saudi-like, anti-blasphemy police force would be like:

“Ms. Patterson you are hereby guilty of carrying a Bible into a church while holding a baby named Sandy. That’s three strikes. And oh, by the way, are those car keys in your hand?”

In 2012, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”

Does that not sound a little blasphemous to you? If I were to say that all mosques should be destroyed, I would be lined up right behind Ms. Patterson at the block in Chop-Chop Square.

So, to be clear, Saudi Arabia isn’t about criminalizing insults to all “places of worship.” It is only about criminalizing blasphemy against the places of Islamicworship. For in the twisted minds of the King-dumb, there is only one “place of worship,” which is the abode of Allah – not Jesus Christ, the Heavenly Father or the Holy Spirit.

Christian and Jewish places of worship? Have at it. These other “places of worship” do not exist and are therefore impossible to blaspheme.

Understanding the religious logic of the Saudis is not easy, unless you accept that “logic,” to them, is only that which benefits Islam. What might appear to be an edict protecting all religions is, in reality, only a deaf-dumb-and-blind safeguard for their own religion.

The King-dumb doesn’t want anyone meddling in their affairs, but they want to freely meddle in the affairs of others, and even dictate them.

I would like to call the Saudi royalty a bunch of yo-yos, but that would be an insult to the beloved child’s toy. A yo-yo at least knows how to stay on its own string.

Obama: Opening the Pandora’s Box of Nuclear Proliferation?

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, former Ambassador to the U.S., was a target of a failed bombing plot by the Iran’s Quds force at a Washington restaurant. He was at the State Department yesterday in preparation for a meeting with President Obama today regarding the Kingdom’s concerns about the announced nuclear pact with Iran.

The White House committed a faux pas on announcement of the Iran nuclear deal when it first suggested that the Quds force commander, General Qassem Suleymani, was not on a list of 700 Iranians whose travel bans and asset restrictions were lifted. General Suleymani had been deemed responsible for hundreds of U.S. Service personnel casualties during the Iraq War and now is involved with advising Iraqi Shiite militias fighting ISIS.  The Iran FARS news agency and ABC News both confirmed that the legendary head of the Quds Force was indeed on the list. We trust that President Obama will apologize when he meets with Foreign Minister al-Jubeir today. A Wall Street Journal report set the stage for today’s meeting:

Saudi Arabia is the largest of the Arab states that have been deeply skeptical of Mr. Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Iran.

The Saudis have been deeply worried about the Iran agreement; both because of fears it won’t stop the Iranian nuclear program and because of broader concerns that it will allow Iran to grow as a regional power when it receives the financial windfall from the end of sanctions under the accord.

The Sunni Saudi government already is locked in a proxy battle with Iranian allies in neighboring Yemen. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran Yemen’s capital earlier this year and were targeted by a Saudi airstrike campaign backed by the U.S. In addition, Shiite-led Iran is the most important backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; Saudi Arabia is committed to his removal.

However, there is the overarching issue of Saudi Arabia and other Middle East Sunni countries opting to secure their own nuclear infrastructure and weapons.  A  WSJ  op ed in today’s edition  by Karen Elliot House, former publisher and Pulitzer Prize winner for her coverage of the Middle East, addressed what many observers belief is a potential nuclear Pandora’s Box, “Obama Pours Gas on the Mideast Fire”:

The short subdued statement this week by Riyadh’s embassy in Washington again calling for “strict sustainable” inspections speaks volumes about the kingdom’s precarious position and the lack of good options.

[…]

A final option open to the Saudis: Get a nuclear weapon as soon as possible. Prince Turki al Faisal, the kingdom’s former head of intelligence vowed in the spring that “whatever the Iranians have, we will have.”

[…]

The nuclear deal with Iran will stoke more Sunni-Shiite violence, and the Saudis may go shopping for nukes.

On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, a Middle East Roundtable discussion was convened by Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio 1330 AM WEBY’s co-hosts  of “Your Turn,” Mike Bates and this writer. Our panelists were Omri Ceren, Managing Director for Press and Strategy of The Israel Project (TIP) and Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center.  Bryen was calling in from Washington, D.C.  Ceren was calling in from Vienna, Austria where he had spent 19 days working with journalists covering the final deliberations of the nuclear pact with Iran. Ceren had also been in Lausanne, Switzerland covering the April 2nd announcement of a framework for a final JPOA.  The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming August 2015 New English Review article on the Iran nuclear agreement based on the radio panel discussion. This excerpt reveals the dangers that could result should nuclear proliferation spread in the Middle East, beginning with Saudi Arabia. The arguments presented here are the opinions of Ceren and not necessarily those of TIP.

Omri Ceren(1)

Omri Ceren, Managing Director at the Israel Project.

Jerry Gordon:   What is the risk in this region that non-proliferation ends and the opposite occurs?  Is this the opening of a Pandora’s Box?

Omri Ceren:  Not just the obvious, but the well nigh undeniable. We talked earlier of what a lot is dangerous about this Administration’s communications with American lawmakers and the American public is that they just don’t tell the truth.  They make excuses for Iranian cheating. But another aspect that has been widely remarked upon is they say insulting things in order to defend their policies. One great example is their answers to the potential that Saudi Arabia will respond to a bad deal by going nuclear.  Let’s be clear, Saudi Arabia will respond to a bad deal by going nuclear. They have not been bashful and have told us in as many words that they will not wait to gain their own nuclear capabilities till the Iranians get a nuclear bomb. They’ve said that they will respond with their own infrastructure when they believe that it is now inevitable that they will get a nuclear bomb.  And they have said that this deal makes it inevitable that Iran gets its nuclear bomb, which is correct. You then have these very clear declarations from a traditional American ally that sits in the center of the world’s energy markets that they intend to go nuclear in response to this deal. If they go nuclear then the entire deal is trashed because there is no chance that the Iranian military will permit the Sunnis to get a bomb without their having a nuclear bomb.  They will respond by backing out of the deal. Now obviously this is a worst case scenario for the White House.  Yesterday, you were in a world where you had no deal and no Iranian bomb. Now you have a deal and you may have an Iranian bomb. What have been their responses? I don’t want to overemphasize this but it is difficult not notice that we have a scenario that will trash everything that the Administration has hoped to create, all costs and no benefits.  What is their answer? They say two things about the Saudis. One is that the Saudis lack the resources  to go nuclear which is insane given the example of North Korea and given what we know about Saudi Arabia’s GDP and how they allocate their resources. The second is what one of the top hands at the NSC wrote in a pamphlet was that the Saudis will never go nuclear because they are afraid of an international oil embargo. I’m sorry but that is not a sophisticated argument. The entire success of the deal and the potential that the deal will fail could leave an entire nuclear Middle East in its wake.

RELATED ARTICLE: UN Set to Adopt Iran Nuke Deal Monday in Obama Blitzkrieg

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

Capitulation: P5+1 Iran Nuclear Deal Reached in Vienna

News came from Vienna this morning that a final deal has been reached between the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The Jerusalem Post reported:

World powers have reached a final, comprehensive agreement with Iran that will govern its nuclear program for over a decade, diplomats said on Tuesday morning.

The deal culminates a two-year diplomatic effort in which the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, led by the United States, have sought to end a twelve-year crisis over Iran’s suspicious nuclear work.

Formally known as the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 100-page document amounts to the most significant multilateral agreement reached in several decades. Its final form is roundly opposed in Israel by the government, by its opposition, and by the public at large.

The JCPOA allows Iran to retain much of its nuclear infrastructure, and grants it the right to enrich uranium on its own soil. But the deal also requires Iran to cap and partially roll back that infrastructure for ten to fifteen years, and grants the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, managed access to monitor that program with intrusive inspections.

In exchange, the governments of Britain, France, Russia, China, the US and Germany have agreed to lift  all UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic, once Iran abides by a set of nuclear-related commitments.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will be tasked with enforcing the agreement over its lifetime. The UN Security Council will soon vote on a resolution to codify the deal.

So, too, will the United States Congress. The US legislature now has a 60-day period to review the deal and, should its leadership choose, vote on a resolution approving or disapproving of the deal. A vote of disapproval would be subject to a presidential veto, which Congress may then vote to override.

Israel and its Arab neighbors are united in opposition to the agreement, warning it will legitimize Iran as a nuclear-threshold state in the short-term, and embolden its form of government – a theocratic republic – in the long-term.

The deal seeks to verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and to keep Tehran at least one year away from having the capability to build such a weapon.

The JCPOA will not be “signed.” Negotiators in Vienna have agreed to “adopt” the text, and will spend several months preparing to implement various provisions of the highly technical agreement.

With this announcement from Vienna the unraveling of this dangerous legacy of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry will ensue with triggering of the 60 day review by Congress under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. As if orchestrated on cue in this duplicitous act of appeasement, President Obama will go to Capitol Hill to make the case to Democratic members that this agreement is a Hobson’s Choice, the least bad deal, under the circumstances with Iran.

For the Republican Congressional majorities in both houses it will present a daunting task to enlist a minority of wary Democratic colleagues to join with them to reject the Joint Plan of Action attempting to make it veto proof. Allies in the Middle East Israel, Saudi Arabia the Gulf Emirates and Egypt oppose the agreement as it facilitates Iran becoming a nuclear threshold state supporter of terrorism equipped with ICBMs. It will trigger proliferation and possible eventual military action against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Reliance on less than intrusive UN inspections of military sites and both known and unknown sites will assure Iran’s becoming a nuclear threshold power. Obama will leave behind a literal Stygian Stable of difficulties for his successor to enforce compliance by Iran with questionable snap back sanctions subject to a committee including Iran. Israel will be left virtually alone to its own means to combat a nuclear equipped apocalyptic Islamo fascist Iran.

UPDATE: Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today commented on the Obama Administration’s announcement of a nuclear deal with Iran:

“I have said from the beginning of this process that I would not support a deal with Iran that allows the mullahs to retain the ability to develop nuclear weapons, threaten Israel, and continue their regional expansionism and support for terrorism. Based on what we know thus far, I believe that this deal undermines our national security. President Obama has consistently negotiated from a position of weakness, giving concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands, holds Americans hostage, and has consistently violated every agreement it ever signed.

I expect that a significant majority in Congress will share my skepticism of this agreement and vote it down. Failure by the President to obtain congressional support will tell the Iranians and the world that this is Barack Obama’s deal, not an agreement with lasting support from the United States. It will then be left to the next President to return us to a position of American strength and re-impose sanctions on this despicable regime until it is truly willing to abandon its nuclear ambitions and is no longer a threat to international security.”

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What 2016ers Say About Obama’s Nuke Deal With Iran

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif Vienna June 30, 2015. Source: Reuters.

Israel’s Contribution towards Defeating the Islamic State

Manfred Gerstenfeld, author of The War of a Million Cuts reviewed in the June 2015 New English Review, published a prescient essay mid-June in the Jerusalem Post. Gerstenfeld is the former Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that sponsored a symposium on his new book on June 22, 2015. It was on the difficulty of “defeating”, let alone “degrading” the resilient Islamic State-the self declared Caliphate, “Will defeating Islamic State take more than a generation? “ While addressing the myriad of threats in the Middle East and potentially in the West from Islamic State Jihadis, Gerstenfeld draws attention to the contributions from Israel’s experience fighting asymmetrical wars against Islamic extremists seeking its destruction.

Tunisian Jihadi gunman Seifddine Rezgui

Tunisian Jihadi gunman Seifddine Rezgui. Photo by Rami Al Lolah

There was a trio of bloody spectacles inspired by the Islamic State on the first Friday in Ramadan. In France there was the beheading of an American owned chemical company executive by a Muslim employee. In Tunisia there was a massacre at a beach resort killing and injuring among others dozens of British, Belgian, Irish and German tourists by a Kalishnikov-toting attacker. In Kuwait there was  the bombing of a Shia Mosque where several dozen  at prayers were killed or injured .

In January there were the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Casher Market attacks by Al Qaeda and ISIS inspired émigré Muslims that killed seventeen, including four French  Jews and a Tunisian Jew.  Last fall, we saw attacks in Sydney, Ottawa and Quebec. There were an ax attack injuring  New York police officers and a beheading of food service employee at a company in Oklahoma City both perpetrated by converts to Islam. Last month we had the attack by two Jihadis from Phoenix  who were killed  in an attempted attack a Mohammed Cartoon event in Garland, Texas. One of the speakers at the event  was Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) who is under 24/7 protection of the Royal Dutch Protective service because of threats against his life for his anti-Islam  views in the Netherlands and the EU.

Reuters reported Islamic State spokesman Muhammad al-Adnani urging brothers in the Muslim ummah in honor of the observances of Ramadan to undertake attacks on kaffirs, unbelievers,   whether Christians, Shiites or Sunnis opposing the self-declared Islamic State. He declared in an audio message, Jihadists should turn the holy month of Ramadan, which began last week, into a time of “calamity for the infidels … Shi’ites and apostate Muslims.”  Not lost on many is that June 29th marks the first anniversary  of the Islamic State  self declaration of a Caliphate by  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Gerstenfield’s op-ed was triggered by comments from US General James Allen, commander of the US-led coalition combating the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, suggesting that it might take a generation to defeat IS.  Gerstenfeld wrote:

General Allen’s remarks, whether realistic or not, can serve for more detailed reflection on what it would mean if IS -controlled territory of a substantial size in say 20 years from now. This would indeed have a major impact on the world order, or better said world disorder. It would also have particular consequences for the Muslim world, the West, Russia and many other countries. Israel and the Jews, though minor players, would be affected by the global impact and by possible targeted attacks by IS.

As far as the Muslim world is concerned, the Arab Spring has already added Libya, Yemen and Syria to the roster of failed countries. The continued existence of IS may cause Iraq and possibly other countries to be added to that list. As the Islamic State is an extremist Sunni movement, it is directly opposed to Shi’ite Muslims, with no inclination to compromise. The longer the Islamic State lasts, the greater the threat to the Shi’ites.

That would mean that eventually the Islamic State would likely confront Iran, the leading Shi’ite country. Iran has been an international troublemaker and hardly any external forces have reacted to it militarily in the current century. The more powerful the Islamic State becomes, the more it will have to challenge Iran.  As the Islamic State also opposes the Sunni countries presently ruled by various royal families, the instability in these countries would increase substantially as well. The same is true concerning Egypt.

[…]

The Islamic State calls for murder may bring with it a shift back toward terrorist attacks perpetrated by foreign jihadists. There have been threats and rumors of having them brought into Europe amongst the boat refugees arriving from Libya, or smuggled through the Balkans. … Yet if we speak about decades of sizable continued Islamic State activity, it is likely that there will be attacks from terrorists disguised as refugees.

[…]

Substantial Jihadi-caused terrorism in the West will lead to further stereotyping of all Muslims.

The previous massive influx of Muslims and its ensuing social problems, including the lack of successful integration, has already led to the rise and/or growth of anti-Islam nationalistic parties in various countries.

These include Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, the Swedish Democrats, and above all, France’s Front National. Substantial Muslim terrorism is not only likely to increase the popularity of these parties but will influence the positions of other parties, who will have to compete for the votes of those with harder positions regarding Islam.

What would all this mean for Jews living abroad? Not much good. Attacks on others are often followed by attacks on Jews.

Gerstenfeld notes the ability of Israel to contend with extremist Salafist jihadi Islamic groups. Groups equipped with advanced weaponry supplied by Iran or Russian and U.S. weapons stocks abandoned by Assad forces in Syria or Iraqi National Forces:

No other country has accumulated as much experience in effectively fighting Muslim terrorists of various kinds as Israel. Israeli know-how in this field is already in demand and that is only likely to increase.

This fact is not well-publicized, but in future it should be, to improve Israel’s image with the Western mainstream populations.

A second opportunity may lie in Israel using the anti- Islamic State (IS)  sentiment in the West to highlight that the majority Palestinian faction, Hamas, is not very different from IS. Israel hasn’t done much about this until now, but at the same time, the grounds for response from the West have been far less fertile than they may become in the future.

A third opportunity for Israel could be the possible change in political alliances in the Middle East. Some Arab states might consider that whatever hatred they promote of Israel to be less beneficial than allying them with Israel against IS, which has become a real threat to many Arab states. A recent poll showed that Saudis consider Iran to be their largest threat, followed by IS, and that Israel ranks third.

There has already been alleged secret meeting between Saudi military and Israeli security counterparts. Doubtless drawn together by the threat of a Shiite Mahdist Iran on the verge of becoming a nuclear threshold state destabilizing the Middle East. That is reflected in the Saudi undeclared war against the Houthi insurgency in the failed State of Yemen. An insurgency equipped and backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image of Islamic State fighters is courtesy of PamelaGeller.com.

Irish Bishop: 11 Christians are murdered every hour

Bishop [John] McAreavey is an exception to the rule. Most of his brother bishops would be scandalized that he even dared to speak of this. But of course he did not identify the perpetrator. The Church is in full denial and appeasement mode. In other words, most bishops are betraying the Christians of the present and the future, and leaving them prey to savages. Apparently most bishops are indeed in the line of apostolic succession. They’re the successors of Judas.

“Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.” — Robert McManus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, February 8, 2013.

“‘Eleven Christians Killed Every Hour,’ Says Irish Bishop,” by Thomas D. Williams, Breitbart, May 19,2015:

According to Bishop John McAreavey, the Chair of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, statistics show that the situation of Christian persecution in the world is far more dire than most people understand.

The bishop called the breadth and scale of the suffering of Christians “unprecedented.”

At least 100,000 Christians are killed every year because of their faith, which amounts to 273 per day, or eleven every hour, McAreavey said, without mentioning those who are “being tortured, imprisoned, exiled, threatened, excluded, attacked and discriminated against on a widespread scale.”

In a sobering presentation before the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade this past week, McAreavey said that Christianity is the most oppressed religion in the world, and the followers of Jesus are actively persecuted in some 110 countries.

More striking still, he contended, according to the International Society for Human Rights, a non-religious organization, “80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians.”

The bishop recalled how the former Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, recently described this suffering of Christians in the Middle East as “one of the crimes against humanity of our time,” comparing it to the Jewish pogroms in Europe and saying he was “appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked.”

The barbaric actions against Christians, particularly in the Middle East, he said, call out for an urgent, coordinated and determined response from the international community. They are “a threat to our common humanity and to the religious and cultural patrimony of the world” as well as putting at risk “the peace and stability of the entire planet.”

The bishop noted with dismay what he called “a reluctance, including on the part of Christian based international aid agencies, to give direct support to minority religious communities, including to the Christian Churches.”

McAreavey also had strong words for the leaders of Western nations that refuse to commit to assisting Christians in the Middle East, or even to acknowledge the gravity of their plight.

“Perhaps because of a fear of being seen as less than aggressively secular in their own country,” he said, “many Governments of majority Christian countries in the west seem reluctant to give direct aid to Churches and religious minorities.”

The West also runs the risk of losing its own understanding of the importance of faith and of religion for a healthy society, he said, which can endanger religious liberty even in democratic nations.

As Catholics, he said, we appeal “to all governments and societies to affirm the vital importance of respecting the right to religious freedom and conscience as a fundamental principle of genuine pluralism in a tolerant society.”…

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Since converting to Islam, UK woman has murdered 400 people


Presentation to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade by the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference on ‘The ongoing Persecution of Christians’

Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore and chair of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, today presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, on the subject of ‘The ongoing Persecution of Christians’. Bishop McAreavey’s delegation included:

Father Timothy Bartlett, an advisor to the Bishops’ Council for Justice & Peace and a priest of the Diocese of Down & Connor, and,
Mrs Áine O’Reilly, a member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Catholic charitable organisation that provides solidarity and financial support to the Christian communities of the Holy Land.
Before its presentation, the Church delegation circulated a letter to the Joint Committee from the Patriarch of Bagdad appealing for greater solidarity and support for Christians being displaced, persecuted and killed in Iraq. Please see full presentation below:

Presentation

Thank you, Chairman.

My name is Bishop John McAreavey. I am here today as Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Bishops’ Conference. I am joined by Mrs Áine O’Reilly, a member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. This is a Catholic charitable organization that provides solidarity and financial support to the Christian communities of the Holy Land. It has over two hundred members in Ireland and more than thirty thousand members worldwide. I am also joined by Father Timothy Bartlett, an advisor to the Council.

I thank the Committee for the invitation to be here this morning with Trócaire, Open Doors and Church in Chains. The ongoing persecution of Christians is an issue that unites all Christians. Pope Francis has called it the ‘ecumenism of suffering’. The breath and scale of this suffering is unprecedented. The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians are being killed every year because of their faith. That is eleven every hour. Others are being tortured, imprisoned, exiled, threatened, excluded, attacked and discriminated against on a widespread scale. The Pew Research Centre says that Christianity is now the world’s most oppressed religious group, with persecution against them reported in 110 countries. Many of these countries have significant trade links with Ireland. Persecution is increasing in China. In North Korea a quarter of the country’s Christians live in forced labour camps. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Maldives all feature in the 10 worst places to be Christian. According to the International Society for Human Rights, a non-religious organization, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians.

As the other groups will explain in more detail, the situation for Christians in the Middle East is particularly acute and shocking. The rise of ISIS has accelerated a brutal religious genocide against Christians and other religious minorities that has been on-going for well over a decade. The former Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, recently described this suffering of Christians in the Middle East as ‘one of the crimes against humanity of our time’. He compared it with Jewish pogroms in Europe and said he was ‘appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked.’ I believe many Christians in Ireland, of all denominations, too are appalled at the relative lack of attention being given in the Irish media, in political discourse and in Irish Government policy and action to the urgent plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East at this time. Children, women and men being beheaded. Young men brutalized and left to die on make-shift crosses in town squares in the part of the world that was once described as the cradle of Christianity and of civilisation itself. Ancient Churches and religious monuments from various traditions being destroyed.

Such barbaric actions call out for an urgent, coordinated and determined response from the international community. They are a threat to our common humanity and to the religious and cultural patrimony of the world for future generations. They put at risk the peace and stability of the entire planet. Any response will require an honest and comprehensive effort to address the sources of violent conflict that converge on this region and have wider political and religious implications across the world. Yet so many remain silent and inactive.

I have spoken to senior representatives of the Christian community in Iraq in recent days, whom I will not name to protect their security. They simply cannot understand why so many in the international community turn a blind eye to their plight. Many governments, including the Irish Government are supplying modest amounts of emergency aid. This is welcome and helps to address some immediate humanitarian needs. However there is a reluctance, including on the part of Christian based international aid agencies, to give direct support to minority religious communities, including to the Christian Churches. Yet if their presence is to remain, if they are to draw strength from one another and continue their own religious, educational and charitable activities in the places where they live and work, where they have contributed for millennia to the shared educational, economic and cultural patrimony of their countries, then they need direct aid. They have a right to be supported in rebuilding their bombed-out Churches, schools, hospitals and halls that are availed of by the whole community. They have a right to receive support in building bomb proof walls and security around these buildings and their own homes. They are also best placed to ensure humanitarian support gets to those who need it most in the villages, towns and refugees camps where the local Church continues to be present. Yet, perhaps because of a fear of being seen as less than aggressively secular in their own country, many Governments of majority Christian countries in the west seem reluctant to give direct aid to Churches and religious minorities.

The starting point for the Catholic response to this issue is our commitment to the inherent dignity and priceless value of every person before God, without distinction. Our concern is for all humanity. We utterly condemn the grotesque targeting and brutal murder of those with same-sex attraction by ISIS. We stand in solidarity and support with the Yazidi and other religious communities who face a similar extermination, displacement and lack of respect for their right to religious freedom and conscience as their Christian neighbours.

We appeal to all governments and societies to affirm the vital importance of respecting the right to religious freedom and conscience as a fundamental principle of genuine pluralism in a tolerant society. As Saint Pope John Paul II never tired of reminding the world, where this pivotal right to freedom of conscience and religion is denied, diluted or culturally suppressed other human rights abuses follow in its wake. The denial of religious freedom can run from subtle cultural exclusion of the religious voice from the public square and refusal to accommodate reasonable differences of conscience to active discrimination, forced displacement, exploitation and loss of life. Denial of religious freedom is a continuum along which many countries that pride themselves on being free, tolerant and diverse have already begun to travel.

I now hand over to Áine, who will conclude our presentation.

In commending the Committee for taking up this theme of the ongoing persecution of Christians, I would like to say that as a proud citizen of this country I believe many Irish citizens, Christian and others would like to see our political representatives and our Government give much greater attention to this issue. In particular, we ask you today:

To provide direct aid to the Christian Churches in the Middle East, and to other persecuted religious groups so that they can rebuild their communities and infrastructure and protect that which has not been destroyed. If they are to survive, they have urgent and particular needs which they alone are best placed to provide. They are also best placed to identify to provide humanitarian assistance in the most difficult to reach areas experiencing immediate violence and oppression;

We also ask you to assist the various Irish aid agencies in providing direct financial support to Christian and other religious communities in the Middle East without fear of being accused at home of being sectarian or giving offence to secularity in a predominantly Christian country. This is a real concern among Christian aid agencies which you can help to address;

We ask you to use your political influence to raise awareness of this issue where possible. In commending your own decision to hold this hearing, we encourage you to recommend a full Dáil debate on the ongoing persecution of Christians and respect for religious freedom and the particular plight of persecuted Christians across the world;

We ask you to encourage the Government and Irish MEPs to use their influence in the European Institutions to give greater political priority to addressing this issue at a European and international level. This includes the need to address the complex of issues in international relations that contribute to the ongoing conflict and instability across the region of the Middle East;

Finally, in keeping with its Christian roots and founding ideals, we appeal to you and through you to Europe to open wide the doors of our nations to the numerous refugees fleeing religious persecution in the Middle East. Many of them wish to return to their homeland at the earliest possible opportunity. Just as we did some decades ago for the Vietnamese boat people, let us open our shores, our homes and our vacant buildings in a welcoming and reassuring embrace to those fleeing the most brutal attacks by introducing special temporary immigrant schemes focused on responding to this issue.

In conclusion, I am reminded that the links between the Christian community in Ireland and the Christian community in the Middle East go back to the early Celtic Church. They continue today in the heroic work of many Irish missionaries who work in solidarity with persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East even at risk to their own lives. This continuing link is perhaps most poignantly symbolized by the new mosaic in the apse of the recently restored chapel of the Irish College in Rome. There in the midst of our national patron Saints Patrick, Brigid, Columcille and others, is the image of a young Iraqi priest. His name is Father Ragheed Ganni. He studied for several years in the Irish College. He worked in the pilgrimage site of Lough Derg and in various parishes around the country during his post-graduate studies. He loved the Irish people and they loved him. He radiated joy, gentleness and a true Christian spirit of service to all who knew him. Yet his heart was set on returning to bring comfort, strength and support to his suffering people in Iraq. The Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul in which he ministering was subject to regular bombings and attack. On the feast of the Holy Trinity in 2007, as he finished the celebration of Mass, Father Ragheed and three subdeacons were brutally murdered. The vehicle in which they had been killed was surrounded by explosives by those who had killed them so that no-one dare approach to offer comfort, prayers or help. Just a week before, Father Ragheed had written:

“In a sectarian and confessional Iraq, will there be any space for Christians? We have no support, no group who fights for our cause; we are abandoned in the midst of the disaster.”

It is with this painful, prophetic cry of a young man who knew, loved and appreciated the Irish people so much that we thank you again for giving time to the plight of persecuted Christians in our world today and appeal to you to consider positively the recommendations we have made.

Thank you for listening.

ENDS

Obama’s Middle East Debacle

Saudi Arabia's King SalmanI had to laugh when I heard that the new King of Saudi Arabia, Salmon, told the White House he wasn’t going to attend Thursday’s photo-op get together of Arab leaders. Some lesser Saudi officials will attend. The message is clear enough, so long as Obama continues to make nice with Iran, the center of the problems in the Middle East, the Saudis and the others are going to be wary of any proposal that comes out of the White House.

As far as the Middle East is concerned, Obama seems to have no idea of the history or the dynamics that affect all the actions there. His Secretary of State, Kerry, is no better. He met with Arab officials last Friday and they told him they want a defense treaty in the event they were attacked by “external forces”, something that the Congress will not approve so long as Obama is in the White House.

One would think that any President at this point would have concluded that the Palestinians have no intention of signing onto a peace treaty with the Israelis.

Writing in The New York Times on May 8, Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, put it bluntly, “It doesn’t matter what these politicians think now or have said in in the past. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not happening in the next two years.” That’s how long we all have to wait until Obama leaves office.

David P.Goldman, a Senior Fellow of the Middle East Forum, writing in Asia Times Online on May 10, spelled it out. “It is inconvenient for diplomats to say so, but the Palestinian Authority collapsed quite some time ago,” noting that “President Mahmoud Abbas’ term in office began in 2005 and ended six years ago, and he has not called new elections for the simple reason that Hamas—the Palestinian branch of the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood—would win those elections.” These days the Egyptians label Hamas a terrorist organization and have taken steps to eliminate the Brotherhood. At least they know who the enemy is.

Obama has been antagonistic to Israel from before he was elected and has made little effort to hide it. Consider this, as Goldman notes, “Hamas fired over 4,000 rockets at Israel in 2014, prompting Israeli counterstrikes during the summer.” Its declared intention and the reason for its existence is to eliminate the State of Israel. Why are we surprised to hear that Obama wants to take the statehood issue to the United Nations, a hotbed of anti-Semitism, and has little to say of the Palestinian Authority’s assertion that it wants to drag Israel in front of the International Criminal Court for having defended itself against the attacks by Hamas!

Not only has the Saudi King sent Obama a message, but so did the Israelis when they overwhelmingly reelected Benjamin Netanyahu as their Prime Minister. “The Israelis look around the Middle East and see nothing but conflict, carnage, instability and danger,” said Schanzer. “The Obama doctrine—which includes a deliberate contraction of American power in the Middle East—has undeniably made Israel less safe.”

It has made the U.S. and the world less safe too.

One of the most obscene aspects of the Obama obsession with Iran is that, in return for any deal—which Iran would ignore and cheat—they are ready “to provide as much as $120 billion in sanctions relief to satisfy the narrow technical parameters of a nuclear deal, which would legitimize Iran as a threshold nuclear state. These funds,” said Schanzer, “will flow to Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Iran terror proxies dedicated to Israel’s demise.”

To put all this in perspective, as Goldman reminds us, “From Israel’s standpoint, the Palestinian Authority was offered 95% of Judea and Samaria in return for a final peace agreement, and both times (at Camp David in 1999 under Ehud Barack and in 2008 under Ehud Olmert) the offer was rejected.”

“The U.N. Security Council,” said Goldman, “will punish Israel for the failure of negotiations that were meaningless to begin with, and establish a Hamas-controlled state within nine miles of the Mediterranean coast. Iran has already promised to arm West Bank Arabs, just as it armed Hezbollah and Hamas.”

Israel which has enjoyed the support of the United States since it declared its independence in 1948 is now put at risk by the first administration to deliberately turn its back on it in preference for a deal with the leading terror-sponsor, Iran, in the Middle East.

You cannot make a greater mess of the mess that already exists in the Middle East, but Obama is doing his best to add to it. What else should we expect from a President who refuses to utter words like “Islamic terrorism”?

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Yemen: Obama’s Last Red Line?

yemen map

For a larger view click on the map.

The U.S. Naval blockade of Iranian weapons heading to Yemen has worked, maybe. Mark Langfan explains in detail the importance of Iran NOT gaining control of Yemen via the Houthi rebels.

Control of the Red Sea and the all important Suez canal are just part of the problem.

Mark explains that all you have to do is “follow the money”, and you will realize that this Iran/Saudi war is about the oil field of north eastern Saudi Arabia! That this has less to do with the Sunni/Shia split and more to do with Persian/Arab ethnic battles and control of the oil.

If you want to understand the conflict in Yemen, watch this show!

RELATED ARTICLE: Obama’s Last Red-Line: Blockade of Iranian Weapons to Yemen

Collapse of Obama’s ‘Geo-Political Equilibrium’ in the Middle East

This weekend, less than 72 hours before the deadline for P5+1 political framework for Iran’s nuclear program, President Obama’s “offshore balancing” act in the Middle East collapsed. In a January 27, 2014 New Yorker interview with editor David Remnick President Obama revealed:

It would be profoundly in the interest of citizens throughout the region if Sunnis and Shiites weren’t intending to kill each other … And although it would not solve the entire problem, if we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion – not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon – you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there is competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.

His naive  paradigm of a geo-political equilibrium between Shia Iran and Sunni Arabs led by Saudi Arabia floundered with the dramatic intervention by the Saudi Air Force on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 attacking Houthi rebels in northern Yemen , the capital, Sana’a  and targets near Aden. Operation “determination storm” has begun. The Saudis gave less than 1 hour notice to the Pentagon and the White House of the launch of the air campaign. The Administration wasn’t consulted. That effrontery to the leader of the free world was in evidence at the 26th Summit of the Arab League in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Shaik. Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, The ousted U.S. backed President of Yemen, who had fled from Aden to Saudi Arabia, accused the Houthi of being “stooges” for Iran. He refused any offer of a cease fire while the Saudis and Emirati air units continue attacking Houthi forces. Iran warned the Saudi and Emirate allies of “bloodshed,” if attacks continue. The Saudi have mobilized 150,000 ground forces for possible action. The U.S. may provide aerial refueling, bombs and air search and rescue for downed pilots as they did for two Saudi pilots on Thursday.

In a statement released today, Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Al-Araby said the Arab states would, “join ranks and look into taking preemptive and defensive arrangements to maintain the Arab national security.”  The Declaration went on to point out:

The  “conflict between the concept of a modern state and destructive projects that detract the idea of a national state and employ the ethnic, religious and sectarian variation in bloody conflicts, sponsored by external parties.” It cited recent developments in Yemen and the slide the country almost fell into as a flagrant example of these challenges and stressed the dire need for “necessary measures to counter them.”

The Washington Post reported Arab leaders had effectively announced a “joint military force to intervene in neighboring states grappling with armed insurgencies.”

David P. Goldman in an Asia Times column, “The Middle Eastern Metternichs of Riyadhnoted the stunning assertion of the Saudi leadership in the confrontation with Iran over the US policy collapse in the Middle East and failures in Yemen:

A premise of the “realist” view that American policy in the region should shift towards Iran was that the Saudi monarchy would collapse and Sunni power along with it. All of us underestimated the Saudis.

Now the Saudis have emerged at the top of a Sunni coalition against Iran–limited for the moment to the Houthi insurgency in Yemen, to be sure, but nonetheless the most impressive piece of diplomacy in the Sunni world since Nasser, and perhaps in modern times. That attributes a lot of importance to a coalition assembled for a minor matter in a small country, but it may be the start of something important: the self-assertion of the Sunni world in response to the collapse of American regional power, the threat of Sunni jihadist insurgencies, and the Shi’ite bid for regional hegemony.

There was more drama in Lausanne, Switzerland, when an Iranian journalist Amir Hossein Motaghi, a former election aide to Islamic Republic President Rouhani defected. The UK Telegraph reported Motaghi saying: “The U.S. negotiating team is mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.” Meanwhile Secretary of State Kerry and the U.S. team are endeavoring to have the P5+1 approve a verbal outline of a political framework with the intransigent Iranians, who demand immediate lifting of financial sanctions while denying compliance with IAEA requests for background information on past military application developments.

These developments gave rise to further criticism by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who warned at a Sunday cabinet meeting that:

 Iran is trying to “conquer the entire Middle East” as the West appears close to signing a pending nuclear deal with Israel’s arch-enemy.

“This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in Jerusalem, according to Reuters.

Doubtless, Netanyahu will have more to say to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner who travels to Jerusalem this week for a previously arranged meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister in the midst of cobbling together a ruling majority following his victory in the March 17th, Knesset elections.

The failure of a U.S. supported state in Yemen adds to the growing shadow of Iranian Hegemony over four Arab capitals in the Levant; Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and now Sana’a.  Should the Saudi and Gulf emirates air attacks not succeed in halting the Iran-backed Houthi conquest of the remaining stronghold of Aden, then Iran may control a major international geo-resource choke hold on the Red Sea with significant economic repercussions. The prospect of a Shia Sunni sectarian war in the Middle East fuels the apocalyptic end time’s vision of chaos of the Iranian Shia Mahdists  are seeking to arouse the moribund Twelfth Imam from his slumber at the bottom of the holy well in the holy city of Qum hard by the underground uranium enrichment cascade hall of Fordow.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, elected by the Assembly of Experts to fulfill that bizarre Islamic obligation, is on the verge of achieving the ultimate symbol of chaos – becoming a nuclear threshold state courtesy of the looming P5+1 political framework that may be announced on March 31st. With Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, ISIS cells, the vanquishing of U.S. counterterrorism in the region, Iran has achieved its goal of fomenting chaos to bring about end times. As night follows day, Sectarian war between Sunni Arab states and Shia Mahdmen in Tehran could erupt. All while the Administration in Washington abandons Israel surrounded by Iranian proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Sunni Salafist Islamic State seeking its destruction.  Is this the legacy that President Obama wants to leave behind when he leaves the White House in January 2017?  If it is, then his pursuit of an accommodation with an Iran equipped with a stockpile of nuclear weapons and nuclear warhead tipped Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles amounts to colossal appeasement and “faithless execution” of his oath of office as Commander in Chief to protect America from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

This weekend the President was in Florida playing golf in Palm City, Florida with a Halliburton Director and the Houston Astros owner while his global equilibrium went up in flames. So much for his feeling the pain of the middle class.

Stay tuned for further developments.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Iranian journalist defector says Obama admin arguing on the SIDE of IRAN in nuke negotiations

How Will Middle East Chaos Impact the Iran Nuclear Talks?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, left, meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at Sharm El-Shaik Summit, March 27, 2015. Source: AP/MENA.

Administration Fails to Recognize the Threat of Global Jihad?

As a Former Army Intelligence officer, we were trained to evaluate the credibility of sources and then delve into the Intel they were providing. We were also trained that if you didn’t identify the threat doctrine of your enemies then you couldn’t formulate a winning strategy, let alone protect your forces. The Obama Administration has been evading the capabilities of military intelligence echelons to assist it  in fashioning a winning strategy in the war against Global Jihad. One would have thought that when the members of Seal Team Six killed  the late Osama Bin Laden and scooped up disk drives and documents that the West Wing would have considered it a treasure trove. The vital raw intelligence would have determined the aims and global strategy of so-called “core Al Qaeda” and its burgeoning affiliates across the Muslim Ummah and the West. (Groups like AQAP, AQIM, al Nusrah, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram.)  Unfortunately, as this Weekly Standard article by Fox News ‘Special Report’ panelist, Stephen F. Hayes illustrates, President Obama  may have evaded  his oath of office as Commander in Chief, Former Defense Intel Chief Blasts Obama.

Former DIA head Gen. Flynn’s cautionary tale.

Gen Michael Flynn

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.) former DIA Head.

Hayes uses a speech by former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) chief, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to fellow intelligence professionals to illustrate why the Administration cannot be trusted.  Flynn retired after being brushed off by the National Security team in the West Wing and the politicized CIA. He was seeking to deploy his resources at the DIA to evaluate and derive meaningful intelligence on Al Qaeda its aims and strategies from the treasure trove of Obama bin laden computer files captured during the Seal Team Six assault. This would have enabled the Commander in Chief and his national security team to articulate the threat of global radical Islam and fashion a strategy that would protect our forces engaged in a war against Islamic Jihad. Instead the Administration myopically evaded its responsibilities opting to promote the meaningless and opaque threat as “violent extremism.” Instead Flynn and his team of military intelligence analysts were brushed off after having unearthed the goals of “core Al Qaeda” and its network of empowered affiliates

Here are excerpts from the Hayes Weekly Standard article that illustrates these points:

Lt. General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, [said], “The dangers to the U.S. do not arise from the arrogance of American power, but from unpreparedness or an excessive unwillingness to fight when fighting is necessary.” The Obama Administration doesn’t understand the threat, Flynn said, noting that the Administration refuses to use “Islamic militants” to describe the enemy.

“You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists,” he said.

The administration, he continued, wants “us to think that our challenge is dealing with an undefined set of violent extremists or merely lone-wolf actors with no ideology or network. But that’s just not the straight truth.”

[…]

The failure to exploit the captured Bin Laden file.

The CIA was responsible for the first scrub of the collection of more than 1 million documents and retained “executive authority” over the cache when it was completed. But the CIA stopped analyzing or “exploiting” the documents after that first quick and incomplete assessment and the Agency made no attempt to systematically examine and codify all of the intelligence included in the intelligence haul.

Flynn assembled a team at the DIA to do exactly that, but the CIA initially refused to share the documents. After a lengthy bureaucratic battle, DIA analysts were given limited access to the bin Laden documents and undertook an exhaustive exploitation. The documents provided the U.S. government with its best look at al Qaeda and its operations and challenges—from the inside. There were letters between Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders, plans for future attacks, details about fundraising successes and failures, descriptions of relationships between al Qaeda and governments in the region. The documents remain unexploited to this day.

Derek Harvey, a senior DIA official and former director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at CENTCOM, led the DIA team that exploited the documents. He recently told TWS that the U.S. government hasn’t “done anything close to a full exploitation.”

And what was Flynn’s overall assessment?

In classified analyses based heavily on the documents, the DIA directly challenged the Obama administration’s claims that the threat from al Qaeda was diminished or fading. Flynn hinted at this in an interview he gave to James Kitfield of Breaking Defense shortly after he left government. “When asked if the terrorists were on the run, we couldn’t respond with any answer but ‘no.’ When asked if the terrorists were defeated, we had to say ‘no.’ Anyone who answers ‘yes’ to either of those questions either doesn’t know what they are talking about, they are misinformed, or they are flat-out lying,” Flynn said.

Enter former CENTCOM Commander Marine General Zinni on the lack of a Strategy.

Gen Anthony Zinni

Gen. Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOMM commander. Source: Pensacola News Journal.

Recently, we heard former CENTCOMM Commander, Four Star Marine Gen. (ret.) Anthony Zinni talk about the lack of a meaningful Obama Strategy in the war against the Islamic state.  See; Pensacola News Journal article, “General discusses ‘Situation in the Middle East.

Among those gathered to hear him were former colleagues at CENTCOMM. He was introduced by Marine Lt. Gen. Duane Thiesen, president and CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Zinni shared his insights gained from long experience serving in the Middle East and his engagement in strategic defense studies about terrorism and stability or the lack thereof in the Arab World. He opened up his speech with an anecdote about a conversation with two Arab leaders in the UAE on the day when the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003. His two interlocutors said this was a disaster, because” it would unleash the Persian threat and ignite a religious war between Sunni and Shia.” Zinni had disagreed with the Bush strategy that without overwhelming force to seal the borders of  Iraq, that sectarian fissures and conflicts would arise and that victory would not be achieved. In his remarks referring to the current situation he said, “Obviously, it’s the rise of the extremists – their ability to recruit now and reach out globally having bases from which they can operate.” He was dismissive of regional and bi-lateral initiatives saying that “the nation’s leaders need to take a strategic look at the world. “This globalization is connected by a network” A network according to Zinni including space, cyberspace, sea, air, land communications and trade resulting in global impact.

Before his talk I chatted with him briefly and gave him my question for the Q+A:

We are now several months into Operation Inherent Resolve – a US led coalition “to degrade and destroy”, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS. What is your current assessment of the conduct of this Operation and what in your view could be done to achieve the ultimate objective?

He smiled and said,  “The short answer is we should not be afraid to put boots on the ground.”

When the question was posed to him by the Tiger Bay moderator, Zinni differentiated between, a strategy for Iraq versus one for Syria. He suggested that perhaps two US brigades, coupled with Kurdish Peshmerga and both Iraqi Special Forces and Sunni militias with meaningful air support would enable the recovery of Mosul and Anbar province. He cautioned that the US now finds itself in the odd situation where Iran’s Quds Force is on the same side in Iraq. He noted this is part of a strategy by the Islamic Regime in Tehran to surround the Arabian Peninsula.That is illustrated by the US failure in Yemen, with the Houthi Shia rebels toppling the central government, the Shia majority in Bahrain, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad clinging to control in Syria. A Shia crescent cutting across the Gulf stretching as far as the Mediterranean coast. It is a hegemonic strategy that includes state sponsored terrorism and achievement of nuclear breakout, further destabilizing the region and threatening the Saudi Kingdom. As regards the Houthi uprising in Yemen, despite the death of King Abdullah and succession of King Salman, Zinni contended that the Saudis might move troops into Yemen. He suggested that US drone campaign against Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula  would not aid in saving the failed state. He was dismissive of direct involvement in Syria as there are too many disparate sectarian forces both within the Sunni majority and among the minority Alawites, Christians, Druze and Kurds. As illustrated by the US coalition strategy in the four months struggle that succeeded in freeing  the embattled city of Kobani on the Turkish border, the Kurdish YPG and Peshmerga Forces were the”boots on the ground.” His assessment  is reflected in a recent Wall Street Journal article depicting the failure of CIA training of opposition Sunni militias in Syria. He believes that the map of the modern Middle East, created in the wake of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and by the WWI Sykes Picot Agreement, may not survive.

Both Gens. Flynn and Zinni decry the failure of strategic thinking by the Administration frozen in the headlights of an oncoming Global Jihad that it refuses to acknowledge as a threat to the West.

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

Episode 2: Will the Middle East Explode in 2015?

“Will the Middle East explode in 2015” is the name of our three-part series looking at the tension in Israel, the instability in Yemen and the consequences of a new King in Saudi Arabia together with the advance of Iran more deeply onto this region.

This series is a must see for anyone concerned about the national security of the United States of America!

Don’t miss the excellent presentation by Mark Langfan and Eric Stakelbeck on the oil fields of Saudi Arabia that the Iranians want to steal!

To listen to Episode 1 click here.

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Are we toast? Saudi king is dead; ISIS expands; we’re abandoning Yemen and Iran has a missile launcher

On Tuesday evening President Obama stated, “the shadow of crisis has passed and the state of the union is strong” — and of course the blind followers cheered.

Obama also hinted that we had “turned the page” on our fight against terrorism. Remember his unilateral declaration at the National War College that the war on terror had ended — and of course he has commanded that combat operations end in two theaters of operation; Iraq and Afghanistan.

But nothing could shine the light on President Obama’s naiveté (or approval?) more than the fact that just 48 hours after he dismissed the “shadow of crisis,” we are evacuating yet another U.S. Embassy — this time in Yemen.

It’s the same Yemen that just last fall, Obama referred to as the model of his success — just like Vice President Joe Biden once chimed that Iraq would be one of Obama’s greatest successes. When Obama said the shadow of crisis has passed, we had three U.S. Naval warships off the coast of Yemen ready to evacuate the embassy.

And if you’ve forgotten, this is the second U.S. Embassy to be evacuated in less than a year — the other being Libya…y’all remember the swan diving jihadists? This hardly reflects a state of the union that is strong. What it does reflect is a foreign policy of abject failure, resulting from the Obama “pivot” away from the Middle East.

And so now we have the Houthis, whose slogan is “Death to America, Death to Israel” by the way. We reported on them late last year, of course no one cared. Just the same as a year ago this week, when President Obama referred to ISIS as a “jayvee” team. The al-Houthi Islamist group is Shiite and backed by — yep, you got it — that nondescript country called Iran about whom Obama threatened a veto if Congress passed legislation restoring sanctions.

Let me put this all into perspective.

Yemen is home to the most vicious al-Qaida affiliate — yeah I know, they’re decimated and on the run – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This is the same group which claimed responsibility for the recent Paris Islamic terrorist attack.

There are now reports that ISIS is expanding into Yemen and as we reported last year, AQAP was seeking a pledge of alliance with ISIS. Yes, the Houthis and al- Qaida don’t exactly get along — but the Houthis are backed by Iran — who we are assisting the fight against ISIS in Iraq, along with their support to Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

And the Obama administration just announced it would send 400 advisors/trainers to Syria. But we’re allowing Iran to pursue its nuclear program, 10,000 centrifuges,– and the Washington Post just gave President Obama three more Pinocchios for his SOTU assertion that Iran’s nuclear program has slowed down. And as you know, Obama threatened to veto congressional action to sanction Iran.

Why should we kinda care? The Yemeni government was pro-American and was aiding in the fight against Islamists within their borders. Now, not only has the Yemeni government been toppled, it has been replaced with the specter of Iranian influence in the vicinity of a chokepoint entering the Red Sea — and not far from Somalia — yet another hot bed of Islamism.

Now, add on top of this hot fudge sundae the fact that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia just passed away. Yemen is the southernmost country on the Arabian Peninsula where chaos now abounds at a time of a transition of leadership in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis are Sunni and cannot be too happy with the Obama administration’s lack of focus and resolve in the face of Iranian regional hegemonic designs. So what does Saudi Arabia do? In concern for their own existence will the Saudis provide material support to Sunni Islamic terrorists in order to defeat the Iranian-backed Houthis?

And there is another wild card to this equation, as reported by The Algemeiner, “The Israeli satellite imaging company ImageSat released images from Iran revealing a new nuclear development site. The images show what appears to be a new missile launcher that stands 89 feet tall and is capable of launching a nuclear missile to Israel or Europe, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 2.”

“Among the new nuclear developments pictured was a large long-range missile, never seen before in the West. The missile is powerful enough to launch a satellite or a manned spacecraft, the report said.”

Now does this sound like someone with whom we should — or even can – be negotiating?

Ladies and gents, I know some of you may feel, who cares, let them all kill each other. Yes, to a point they will, but the shadow of crisis will not pass that easily.

From Libya extending all the way to Pakistan, and probably beyond, militant Islam has taken root and is exporting its terror and hatred all over the globe. And the policy of this administration is to remain in a state of denial. America sides with Turkey and Qatar. America is releasing Islamic terrorists back onto the battlefield. All the while w’re told move along, nothing here to see.

There’s lots to see, and my greatest concern is that the situation only worsens in these final two years of the Obama reign.

What can we do? Well, first we gotta pray — and I am serious folks. The situation in which we find ourselves is a perfect storm benefitting the Islamic fascists. Not only are they on the move and consolidating their gains while increasing recruitment, we are enabling it by decimating our own military capacity.

We must develop a strong, potent, expeditionary and lethal strike operations-oriented force for the 21st century battlefield. And I’m not talking about any “smart power” or nuanced rhetorical response, but rather a deterrent force capable of deployment and employment in any geographical contingency area.

This is not about nation building. And at some point in time we will have to combat the enemy’s ideology — we must defeat his belief system in order to delegitimize him. Challenge the enemy and make them own their actions — and stop being Islamapologists.

The crisis has not passed; it’s right here and all over the globe — heck, there’s even a Russian naval warship docked in Cuba while our state department bureaucrats are there to discuss opening up diplomatic and travel relations.

Can we really say that the state of our union is strong? If you believe that then you’re in a state of delusion. And remember, weakness is enticing.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.

Saudi Arabia Faces Serious Challenges in 2015 — Spread of Terrorism Is Out of Control

There will be a shift in Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy in 2015, most likely their strategy will be similar to that as outlined in the below listed article. Once Saudi Arabia developed a close working partnership with the United States; both countries jointly shaped the Middle East into a relatively stable arena. Now the Middle East is the most volatile region in the world. The once 64 year long term partnership has been fractured by Obama’s intent to establish diplomatic relations with Iran, regardless of whether Iran will destabilizing the Middle East region by developing nuclear weapons.

The destabilizing void that has been created in the Middle East by President Obama’s lead from behind Middle East Foreign policy, when coupled with Obama’s unilaterally reduction in strength of the U.S.Armed Forces to a levels below those of WWII. Al Qaeda, ISIL, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran have become emboldened by Obama’s Middle East Policy, and have rapidly recruited and grown their worldwide terrorist networks, gaining successes in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Yemen, and in Mexico.

The wide open southern border of the United States is being penetrated by terrorist who flood across the southern border along with illegal aliens; those terrorists are establishing their networks in the United States. Over the last 6 years, concerned Americans have demanded that the Federal Government secure the southern border to no avail; the current open border policy will eventually result in terrorist strikes in the Republic

The Western nations have been at war with Islamic terrorism since 9/11, but the Obama administration by its actions and policies has refused to take the proper preventive actions to oppose the terrorist threats facing the nation. In 2014, Obama released 28 of the deadliest terrorist leaders from Guantanamo Bay, they will continue to prosecute terrorist attacks upon the homeland and U.S. allies.

Saudi Arabia Faces Challenges in the New Year

Geopolitical Weekly
January 6, 2015 | 09:00 GMT Print Text Size
By Michael Nayebi-Oskoui

The Middle East is one of the most volatile regions in the world — it is no stranger to upheaval. The 2009 uprisings in Iran and the brinksmanship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government were followed by the chaos of the Arab Spring, the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq and a potential realignment of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Unlike recent years, however, 2015 is likely to see regional Sunni Arab interests realign toward a broader acceptance of moderate political Islam. The region is emerging from the uncertainty of the past half-decade, and the foundations of its future are taking shape. This process will not be neat or orderly, but changes are clearly taking place surrounding the Syrian and Libyan conflicts, as well as the region’s anticipation of a strengthened Iran.

The Middle East enters 2015 facing several crises. Libyan instability remains a threat to North African security, and the Levant and Persian Gulf must figure out how to adjust course in the wake of the U.S.-Iranian negotiations, the Sunni-Shiite proxy war in Syria and Iraq, and the power vacuum created by a Turkish state bogged down by internal concerns that prevent it from assuming a larger role throughout the region. Further undermining the region is the sharp decline in global oil prices. While Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will be able to use considerable cash reserves to ride out the slump, the rest of the Middle East’s oil-exporting economies face dire consequences.

For decades, long-ruling autocratic leaders in countries such as Algeria and Yemen helped keep militancy in check, loosely following the model of military-backed Arab nationalism championed by Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt. Arab monarchs were able to limit domestic dissent or calls for democracy through a combination of social spending and repression. The United States not only partnered with many of these nations to fight terrorism — especially after September 2001 — but also saw the Gulf states as a reliable bulwark against Iranian expansion and a dangerous Iraq led by Saddam Hussein. Levantine instability was largely contained to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, while Israel’s other neighbors largely abided by a tacit agreement to limit threats emanating from their territories.

Today, Saddam’s iron grip on Iraq has been broken, replaced by a fractious democracy that is as threatened by the Islamic State as it is by its own political processes. Gone are the long-time leaders of states like Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Meanwhile, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Oman are facing uncertain transitions that could well take place by year’s end. The United States’ serious dialogue with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program, once a nearly unthinkable scenario for many in the Gulf, has precipitated some of the biggest shifts in regional dynamics, especially as Saudi Arabia and its allies work to lessen their reliance on Washington’s protection.
The Push for Sunni Hegemony

Riyadh begins this year under considerably more duress than it faced 12 months ago. Not only is King Abdullah gravely ill (a bout of pneumonia forced the 90-year-old ruler to ring in the new year in the hospital and on a ventilator), but the world’s largest oil-producing country has also entered into a price war with American shale producers. Because Saudi Arabia and its principal regional allies, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, boast more than a trillion dollars in cash reserves between them, they will be able to keep production levels constant for the foreseeable future.

However, other OPEC producers have not been able to weather the storm as easily. The resulting 40 percent plunge in oil prices is placing greater financial pressure on Iran and the Shiite-dominated government in Iraq, Saudi Arabia’s largest sectarian and energy rivals. Riyadh’s careful planning and building of reserves means the Saudi kingdom’s economic security is unlikely to come under threat in the next one to three years. The country will instead continue to focus on not only countering Iran but also rebuilding relationships with regional Sunni actors weakened in previous years.

Riyadh’s regional strategy has traditionally been to support primarily Sunni Arab groups with a conservative, Salafist religious ideology. Salafist groups traditionally kept out of politics, and their conservative Sunni ideology was useful in Saudi Arabia’s competition against Iran and its own Shiite proxies. Promoting Salafism also served as a tool to limit the reach of more ideologically moderate Sunni political Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, groups Riyadh sees as a threat because of their success in organizing grassroots support and fighting for democratic reforms.

With rise of external regional pressures, however, Gulf monarchies such as Saudi Arabia are re-evaluating their relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood. Internal threats posed by Salafist jihadists and a desire to limit future gains by regional opponents are pushing countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to try to forge a relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood to limit the risks posed by rival groups in the region.

Restoring relations with the Muslim Brotherhood will also have effects on diplomatic relations. Qatar has long been a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fact that has strained its relations with other countries — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates even went so far as to close their embassies in Qatar. However, the continuation of the United States’ rapprochement with Iran and Riyadh’s own discomfort with the rise of Salafist jihadist groups has made it reconsider its stance on political Islamism. Riyadh, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi’s agreement to resume diplomatic ties with Doha, and the latter’s consideration of changing its relationships with Egypt and Libya, points to a shift in how the bloc’s engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood has the potential to streamline the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) efforts in the region.

The Gulf monarchies’ attempt at reconciling with political Islamists can potentially benefit the GCC. For its part, Qatar has engaged with the staunchly anti-Islamist Libyan government in Tobruk, and it appears tensions with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government in Egypt have calmed. Both scenarios point to the likelihood of the GCC moving closer to adopting a more unified regional stance beginning in 2015, one more in line with Riyadh’s wishes to preserve the framework of the council.

This improvement in relations comes at a critical moment. With the United States and Iran undergoing a rapprochement of their own, the Gulf monarchies will try to secure their own interests by becoming directly involved in Libya, Syria and potentially Yemen. This military action will also aim to project strength to Iran while also filling the strategic void left by the absence of Turkish leadership in the region, especially in the Levant.

However, Qatar has been opposed to this course of action in the past. Despite its small size, the country has used its wealth and domestic stability to back a wide array of Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Ennahda in Tunisia and rebel groups in Syria. Tensions between Qatar and regional allies came to a head in 2014 in the aftermath of Saudi and Emirati support for the July 2013 uprising that ousted the Doha-backed Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. The tension threatened the stability of the GCC and caused rebel infighting in Syria. This disconnect in Gulf policy has had wide regional repercussions, including the success of Islamic State militants against Gulf-backed rebel groups in Syria and the Islamic States’ expansion into Iraq.

Without foreign military intervention on behalf of the rebels, no faction participating in the Syrian civil war will be able to declare a decisive military victory. As the prospects of a clear-cut outcome become less realistic, Bashar al Assad’s Russian and Iranian backers are increasing diplomatic efforts to negotiate a settlement in Syria, especially as both are eager to refocus on domestic woes exacerbated by the current drop in global energy prices. Kuwait’s recent decision to allow the Syrian regime to reopen its embassy to assist Syrian expats living within its borders points to a likelihood that the Gulf states are coming to terms with the reality that al Assad is unlikely to be ousted by force, and Sunni Arab stakeholders in the Syrian conflict are gradually giving in to the prospect of a negotiated settlement. A resolution to the Syrian crisis will not come in 2015, but regional actors will continue looking for a solution to the crisis outside of the battlefield.

Any negotiated settlement will see the Sunni principals in the region — led by the GCC and Turkey — work to implement a competent Sunni political organization that limits the authority of a remnant Alawite government in Damascus and future inroads by traditional backers in Tehran. Muslim Brotherhood-style political Islam represents one of the potential Sunni solutions within this framework, and with Saudi opposition to the group potentially fading, it remains a possible alternative to the variety of Salafist options that could exist — to include jihadists. Such a solution ultimately relies on a broader democratic framework to be implemented, a scenario that will likely remain elusive in Syria for years to come.

North Africa’s Long Road to Stability

North African affairs have traditionally followed a trajectory distinct from that of the Levant and Persian Gulf, a reality shaped as much by geography as by political differences between the Nasser-inspired secular governments and the monarchies of the Gulf. Egypt, Saudi Arabia’s traditional rival for leadership of the Sunni Arab world, has become cripplingly dependent on the financial backing of its former Gulf rivals. The GCC was able to use its relative stability and oil wealth to take advantage of opportunities to secure its members’ interests in North Africa following the Arab Spring. As a result, Cairo has become a launching pad for Gulf intentions, particularly UAE airstrikes against Islamist militants in Libya and joint Egyptian-Gulf backing of renegade Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s Operation Dignity campaign.

Like Syria, Libya represents a battleground for competing regional Sunni ambitions. Qatar, and to a lesser extent Turkey, backed Libya’s powerful Islamist political and militia groups led by the re-instated General National Congress in Tripoli after the international community recognized the arguably anti-Islamist House of Representatives in Tobruk. Islamist-aligned political and militia forces control Libya’s three largest cities, and Egyptian- and Gulf-backed proxies are making little headway against opponents in battles to gain control of Tripoli and Benghazi, prompting more direct action by Cairo and Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are primarily concerned with the possibility of Libya, an oil-rich state bordering Egypt, becoming a wealthy backer of political Islam. Coastal-based infighting has left much of Libya’s vast desert territories available for regional jihadists as well as a host of smuggling and trafficking activities, posing a significant security risk not just for regional states but Western interests as well. Egyptian and Gulf attempts to shape outcomes on the ground in Libya have proved largely ineffective, and Western plans for reconciliation talks favor regional powers such as Algeria — a traditional rival to Egyptian and Gulf interests in North Africa — that are more comfortable working with political actors across a wide spectrum of political ideologies to include Muslim Brotherhood-style Islamism.

Libya will likely find itself as the proving ground for the quid pro quo happening between the participants of the intra-Sunni rift over political Islam. In exchange for Saudi Arabia and its partners reducing their pressure on Muslim Brotherhood-style groups in Egypt and Syria, Qatar and Turkey are likely to work more visibly with Tobruk in 2015 in addition to pushing Islamist proxies into a Western-backed national dialogue. Libya’s overall security situation will not be settled through mediation, but Libyan Islamists are more likely to re-enter a coalition with the political rivals now that both sides’ Gulf backers are working toward settling differences themselves.

Regional Impact

Dysfunction and infighting have marred attempts by the region’s Sunni actors to formulate a cohesive strategy in Syria. This has enabled Iran to remain entrenched in the Levant — albeit while facing pressure — and to continue expending resources competing in arenas such as Libya and Egypt. The next year will likely see an evolving framework where Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and to a lesser extent Turkey, will reach a delicate understanding on the role of political Islam in the region. 2014 saw a serious reversal in the fortunes of Muslim Brotherhood-style groups, which inadvertently favored even more far-right and extremist groups such as the Islamic State as the Gulf’s various Sunni proxies were focused on competing with one another.

Iran’s slow but steady push toward a successful negotiation with the United States, as well as the threats posed by militant Islam throughout the Levant, Iraq and North Africa, is necessitating a realignment of relationships within the Middle East’s diverse Sunni interests. Less divisive Sunni leadership will be instrumental in coordinating efforts to resolve the conflicts in both Libya and Syria, although resolution in both conflicts will remain out of reach in 2015 and some time beyond.

A more robust Sunni Arab position, especially in Syria and the Levant, will likely put more pressure on Iran to reach a negotiated settlement with the United States by the end of the year. While a settlement may seem harmful to Gulf interests, the GCC is shifting toward a pragmatic acceptance of an agreement, similar to Riyadh’s begrudging accommodation of a future role for the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East. The GCC’s new goal is to limit Tehran’s opportunities for success rather than outright denying it. Part of this will be achieved through an ongoing, aggressive energy strategy. The rest will come from internal negotiations between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey.

The next year will see the Sunni presence in Syria attempt to coalesce behind rebels acceptable to Western governments that are eager to see negotiations begin and greater local pushback against the Islamic State. More cohesive Gulf leadership will also present a more effective bulwark against Iranian and Alawite interests in the Levant. Most important, however, is the opportunity for regional Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia, to present a more mature and capable response to mounting pressures. Whether through more assertive military moves in the region or by working with states such as Qatar to steer the Muslim Brotherhood rather than embolden the Islamist opposition, 2015 will likely see a shift in Sunni Arab strategies that have long shaped the region.

Qatar Ambassador to U.S.: “We Don’t Support Hamas”

Qatar’s Ambassador to Washington  H.E. Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari is a veteran diplomat with 32 years of service to the small gas rich wealthy Arab state on a peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf off Saudi Arabia.  American educated at the University of Portland, Oregon with graduate work at the University of Madrid in Spain, he speaks several languages including Farsi used during a diplomatic post in Tehran.  He has held a number of diplomatic posts, Foreign Ministry and Cabinet positions. As Qatar’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, he presented his credentials to President Obama in the Oval Office in March 2014. Ambassador Al-Kuwari spoke Friday, December 5th at the monthly meeting of the Tiger Bay Club in Pensacola, Florida.

Qatar with its capital of Doha has fewer subjects than the metropolitan Pensacola area, approximately 300,000. There are also upwards of 1.7 million foreign workers residing in Qatar with some evidence of human rights violations. Human Rights Watch in its 2014 World Report noted:

Migrants continue to experience serious rights violations, including forced labor and arbitrary restrictions on the right to leave Qatar, which expose them to exploitation and abuse by employers.

The soft spoken Qatari diplomatic representative flew in from “wintry DC” the prior evening to be greeted by Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, Escambia County Commissioner Michael Underwood and the board of the Tiger Bay Club.  He presented a check for $10,000 to Mayor Hayward and proceeded to unroll a charm campaign on this Gulf Coast community in North West Florida with a heavy military presence.  Located in Northwest Florida are the famed Pensacola Naval Air Station, Navy Training and Information Dominance Commands, the Naval Flight Training Center at Whiting Field, the USAF Air Force Special Operation Command Headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Eglin and Tyndall Air bases.  It is not uncommon to see personnel from the six Arab States, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, undergoing training at these facilities.  One of the Tiger Bay board members who attended the private dinner Thursday evening opined the Ambassador gave a “smooth performance.”

The Qatar Charm Campaign

Tiny Qatar across from Shiite Iran is endeavoring to explain the presence of the leaders from terror groups Hamas and Taliban ensconced in luxury in Doha.   There are also allegations by the US Treasury that some Qatar individuals and charities may have funded these groups, as well as, the self declared Islamic State, formerly ISIS. A bit ironic, as Ambassador Al-Kuwari said ISIS is a threat to them that needs to be addressed through immediate military action.

On the diplomatic side, Qatar is one of two Gulf Arab States, the other being Oman, that have diplomatic relationships with America’s ally in the Middle East, Israel.  He stressed their recognition of the State of Israel which has offices in Doha.  He spoke about the role of Qatar trying to bring about peace between the Jewish State and the Palestinians, what he repeatedly deemed as the principal  root cause of unrest and violence in the region. He spoke about the criticism from fellow Arab League members questioning why Qatar tolerates Israeli presence and Jewish visitors.

Ambassador Al Kuwari propounded the view that the Al Jazeera satellite TV network was founded as the “voice of the Arab Spring”, promoting democratic aspirations.  He pointed out Qatar’s own aspirations to build democratic institutions noting a possible future elected parliament, given the two century rule by the Al-Thani family.

“Qatar doesn’t support Hamas”

He astounded some in the audience when he claimed that Qatar does not support Hamas.  This despite the $1 billion pledge by Qatar made at a Cairo conference to underwrite one quarter of the $4 billion cost to rebuild Gaza after the third Hamas perpetrated war with Israel since 2008. In his Tiger Bay talk he referenced the 2,200 Gazans killed in IDF Operation Protective Edge, not mentioning that the majority were Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihad operatives who had used civilians as human shields. Nor did he mention that the $400 millions pledged after the 2012 Gaza war may have been used to build the terror tunnels that enabled cross border attacks inside Israel during the recent summer war.   As he put it, “better to have Khaled Meshaal, the leader in Qatar than across the Gulf in Iran”.

As to questions concerning permitting a Taliban office in Qatar, the Ambassador said that was to facilitate discussions with the Afghan government leading to an inclusive democratic government.  He recommended the terror group relinquish its threats of violence and denial of empowerment of women through education.  He noted the role played by Qatar in release of several Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo in exchange for release of captive US Army Sergeant Bergdahl.  However he did not respond to questions as to whether any of the released Taliban commanders in Qatar were rumored to have subsequently joined ISIS.

When asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, he suggested that there could be democratically elected Islamist governments, decrying the imprisonment by Egyptian President el-Sisi of Brothers, liberals and human rights advocates by the newly elected government.  The Ambassador suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood may not have resorted to terrorism, which appears contradicted by Egyptian, Saudi and UAE designations.   He was, however, silent about the long term presence in Qatar of exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi founder of the Union of Good, a US Treasury Global Designated Terror Group supplying Hamas.

As Ambassador Al-Kuwari was finishing his presentation The Investigative Project was reporting:

 Interpol issued a bulletin Friday seeking the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The bulletin was sparse on details but said that Egypt wanted the 88-year-old Qaradawi “to serve a sentence” for crimes including “incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder.” …  According to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, Interpol issued a “red notice” which is both its highest level alert, and a move subject to later review by the international police agency.

The Egyptian El-Sisi government had requested extradition by Qatar of al-Qaradawi to stand trial.

Ambassador Al-Kuwari painted a glowing picture of Qatar as the Switzerland of the Middle East with billions of dollars holding hundreds of international academic, business and interfaith conferences akin to Davos. He touted American universities like Cornell, Northwestern, Texas, and Virginia Commonwealth that set up programs in Doha. He said that Qatar wanted to invest in economic enterprises in the region to create jobs for the large number of unemployed university graduates.  In the US Qatar is spending $5 million funding university courses to teach Arabic.

 He emphasized the humanitarian contributions of Qatar reflected in the $100 million given for the rebuilding of New Orleans following hurricane Katrina, the $850 million to rebuild Haiti after the 2012 Earthquake in cooperation with the Clinton Foundation and a major push against Polio in the less developed world in conjunction with the Gates Foundation.  But there were also investments in the US, like the $1.5 billion City Center complex developed with the Hines group in Texas revitalizing a derelict section of Washington, DC.

When asked about the depiction of Islam as being prone to violence reflected in the barbarism of ISIS, he deplored that.  He contended that ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates were a distinct minority that had infiltrated the demonstrated record of tolerance of Islam. His message was that Qatar was following the example of the 800 year Muslim reign in Al Andaluz, southern Spain, where allegedly Jews, Christian and Muslims lived in tolerance. This is not demonstrated by the history of intolerance and barbarism akin to that perpetrated by contemporary ISIS and the Taliban during the successive waves of invasion by extremist Berber-Muslims from North Africa.  He noted Qatar’s approval for building a new Catholic church.

Is Qatar a Frenemy?

Seasoned observers of the Middle East Region say that Qatar under the two century rule by the Al-Thani family “has been punching internationally above its weight class” to use the boxing analogy. Yet Qatar has often been referred to as a Frenemy.  Not exactly a friend, not exactly an enemy.

On the friend side Qatar has assisted in building several major bases including the forward command center at al-Udeid air base for the US Central Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Base just outside Tampa, Florida. Qatar has supplied air contingents in the US-led coalition of 60 countries seeking to “degrade and destroy” Sunni extremist group, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS. The capital, Doha has been turned into an international education hub for the Middle East with the aid of US academic institutions and think tanks like the Doha Center of the Washington, DC –based Brookings Institution.  Qatar has created jobs here in the US by purchasing $19 billion  of 50 Boeing 777s  for expansion of its Qatar Airways in major hubs  Dallas, Miami , Philadelphia to bolster existing facilities in Houston, Washington, DC, New York and Chicago .  Further, Qatar has signed agreements with the Pentagon to purchase more than $11 billion in Patriot Missiles, Apache helicopters and Javelin anti-tank missiles. Moreover, it acquired the Current TV channel, now Al Jazeera America, from former Vice President Al Gore and investors.

On the other hand, there is a troubling story.  Qatar in a New York Times op-ed by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor called Qatar a “Club Med for Terrorists”. He was referring to providing sanctuary for Khaled Meshaal, the billionaire leader of Hamas.  Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies in testimony before the Joint Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs on September 9, 2014 said “that Qatar is currently Hamas’ ATM”:

“If you add up the annual $400 million that we believe has been pledged by the Qataris and perhaps the rumored $300 million provided by the Turks, then you’re looking at $700 million out of a roughly $1 billion budget,” Schanzer told members of Congress. “I’m no math major, but that would be 70 percent.

Earlier this year three Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, briefly withdrew their Ambassadors from Qatar.  They were, among other reasons, objecting to the Qatar funded Al Jazeera satellite TV network broadcasting across the region in Arabic the extremist inflammatory statements of exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher, Yusuf al Qaradawi.  In November 2014, the UAE joined Saudi Arabia placing the Muslim Brotherhood on its list of world terrorist organizations, including Hamas and, here in the US, Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, the Council of American Islamic Relations and Muslim American Society.

There are questions about what Qatar is doing concerning wealthy Qataris who have funded Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusrah and the Sunni fundamentalist Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.

There have been  accusations that some of the $220  billion funds for the infrastructure  in preparation for 2022 FIFA World Cup competition may have involved bribes to FIFA officials and  possible  diversion of contractor payments  to fund the Jihad of the Islamic State.

Some Members of Congress have called for black listing both Qatar and Turkey because of these individuals’ contributions to ISIS, even suggesting that the U.S. move CENTCOMM bases in Qatar elsewhere in the region. Those accusations led the US State Department while calling the current relationship with Qatar “productive”, to also state that “disruption of terrorist financing by Qatari individuals and charitable associations remains inconsistent”.

Conclusion

Qatari Ambassador Al-Kuwari’s Pensacola presentation will doubtless be repeated frequently during his Washington, DC posting. After all the campaign is laced with prospects of American communities and businesses receiving billions in economic rewards.  If Qatar is to succeed it might wisely follow the path of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Kuwait and rein in terrorist financiers in the tiny state. Qatar might start by honoring the Interpol Red Tag warrant for the arrest and extradition of Muslim Brotherhood preacher Al Qaradawi.  As to fostering peace between Israel and the Palestinians, if Qatar’s track record negotiating cease fire proposals with Turkey on behalf of Hamas in the recent summer Gaza war is any indication, that is an unlikely prospect.

Listen to the Qatar Ambassador’s Pensacola Tiger Bay Club presentation.

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