Longtime U.S. ‘Allies’ Qatar, Kuwait Prime Terror Financiers

al-Thani and Haniyeh

The message the West is delivering is that once you’re an ally, you’re always an ally — even if you help our enemies.

BY RYAN MAURO:

David Cohen, the Treasury Department Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, has stated for the record what no other U.S. official would: Qatar and Kuwait, two supposed “allies” of the U.S., are facilitating Islamist terrorism and extremism.

Last month, Cohen spoke at a think tank and immediately turned to Qatar after discussing Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism.

“Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability. Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria,” he said.

Qatar’s staunch backing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas hasalienated its Arab neighbors that view them as terrorist organizations. The leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad traveled to Qatar to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. Qatar appears to have helped heal the relationship between Iran and Hamas.

In August, 24 members of Congress confronted Qatar over its relationship with Hamas. The Qatari government subsidizes the spread of Islamism around the world, even in downtown Washington D.C.

The Qatari government is also guilty of helping Al Qaeda’s regional affiliates. Cohen pointed out that the Treasury Department sanctioned a terrorist in December named Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nu’aymi, who raises money in Qatar and channels it to Al Qaeda elements in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq.

He managed the movement of over $2 million every single month to Al Qaeda in Iraq at one point and delivered the terrorists’ messages to media outlets from 2003-2004. This means that Qatar, a U.S. “ally,” has the blood of American soldiers in Iraq on its hands.

Read more at Clarion Project

Arabs No Longer Take Obama Administration Seriously

by Khaled Abu Toameh:

The extension of the peace talks means only one thing: that Abbas will be able to use the new time given to him to try to extract further concessions from the U.S. and Israel, while all the time bearing in mind that Obama and Kerry are willing to do almost anything to avoid a situation where they are forced to admit that their efforts and initiatives in the Middle East have failed.

The communiqué issued by Arab heads of state at the end of their summit in Kuwait this week shows that the Arab countries do not hold the Obama Administration in high regard or even take it seriously.

The Arab leaders also proved once again that they do not care much about their own people, including the Palestinians.

The Arab leaders, at the end of their two-day meeting, announced their “total rejection of the call to consider Israel a Jewish state.”

This announcement came despite pressure from the Obama Administration on the Arab leaders to refrain from rejecting the demand.

A top Arab diplomat was quoted as saying that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry contacted Arab leaders on the eve of their 25th summit in Kuwait to “warn” them against rejecting Israel as a Jewish state.

Kerry, according to the diplomat, asked the Arab leaders completely to ignore the issue of Israel’s Jewishness and not to make any positive or negative reference to it in their final statement.

Kerry did not want the Arab heads of state to repeat the same “mistake” that the Arab League foreign ministers made on March 9, when they too issued a statement declaring their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The Arab leaders, however, decided to ignore Kerry’s warning and went on to endorse Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal.

The Arab summit’s statement was published shortly before Kerry cut short a European tour to hold an emergency meeting with Abbas in Amman in a last-minute effort to salvage the peace process with Israel.

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry cut short a European tour to hold an emergency meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, pictured above on March 26, 2014. (Image source: U.S. Sate Department)

In light of the Arab summit’s announcement, all that is left for Kerry to do is to put heavy pressure on Abbas to agree to the extension of the peace talks after the April 29 deadline set by the U.S. Administration.

At the meeting in Amman, Kerry warned Abbas that failure to comply with his demand would result in U.S. sanctions against the PA, including suspending financial aid and closing the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington.

Emboldened by the Arab leaders’ backing, however, Abbas does not seem to take Kerry’s threats seriously, particularly in light of previous threats by the U.S. Administration that were never carried out.

In 2012, Abbas had also ignored U.S. threats and pressure by seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state. The Obama Administration did not take any retaliatory measures against the PA or against Abbas himself.

Like most of the Arab leaders, Abbas apparently understands that the Obama Administration has been weakened to a point where it is no longer able to impose its will on any Arab leader.

The way things appear now, it is Abbas who is setting new conditions and coming up with new demands, evidently from a conviction that the Obama Administration has no choice but to succumb.

Abbas today seems to feel confident enough to set his own conditions for accepting Kerry’s demand to extend the peace talks.

Abbas has therefore now come up with a new requirement: that Israel release three senior Palestinians from Israeli prison: Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, PFLP Secretary-General Ahmed Sa’dat and Gen. Fuad Shobaki. All three are serving lengthy prison sentences for their role in terrorist activities, including the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.

The Palestinians also continue to accuse the Obama Administration of exerting heavy pressure on Abbas to soften his position and accept some of Israel’s demands, including the issue of Israel’s Jewishness. Some senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah have even accused Obama and Kerry of practicing “political and financial blackmail” against Abbas.

Abbas seems assured that Obama and Kerry are so desperate to avoid a collapse of the peace talks that they will be willing to accept anything he or the Arab leaders ask for.

The Arab summit stance on the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is a blow to the Obama Administration’s efforts to achieve a peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

There is a feeling among many Arabs and Palestinians that the Obama Administration has no clue as to what it wants from the Arab world. They point out that the Obama Administration has failed in its policies toward several Arab countries, especially Egypt, Libya and Syria.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

War & Peace in the Age of Obama

3333By :

Editor’s note: The following is the text to David Horowitz’s introduction of Caroline Glick at the Wednesday Morning Club.

To order Glick’s new book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, click here.

We live in surreal times. My privilege and pleasure today is to introduce a remarkable woman who has written an extraordinary book in which she argues that the only viable way to resolve the Middle East conflict is a “one-state solution.” I am going to let Caroline explain why that should be so, but in order to understand the magnitude of the task she has undertaken and the difficulties her solution would have to overcome, you first have to understand the surreal nature of the times we live in.

We are not long emerged from a fifty-year Cold War, which began when the Soviet Empire swallowed Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, and ended only when the United States undertook a vast rearmament, and applied enough pressure over enough years to bankrupt the Communist system and force its withdrawal from the occupation.

The Russian successor to that empire has just swallowed one of its lost treasures, a sovereign domain in Eastern Europe. The response of our commander in chief, Barack Obama, to the rape of Crimea has been to wag his finger in response, and explain to the Russian conqueror that the time for conquests has actually passed. We are all modern people now living in the 21st Century and we just don’t do things that way. Not surprisingly this pablum made no impression on Vladimir Putin.

In point of fact, Russia is a second-rate power and could have been easily dissuaded from this adventure or backed down without firing a shot. But because Barack Obama is such an embarrassingly weak leader and untrustworthy ally, Putin was able to laugh in his face, mass 100,000 troops on the Ukranian border and prepare to swallow Ukraine itself.

The leader of the free world today is a man who does not believe in the free world or in America’s role as its head. In the five years since a Norwegian committee gave him a Nobel Peace Prize for nothing, Obama’s policies of weakness and appeasement have made the world a far more dangerous place than it has been since the end of the Cold War, and possibly its beginning.

From his first day in office Obama has made it clear that he regards America as having wronged its adversaries, and its adversaries as having grievances that are justified. It is a view that is conveniently close to Putin’s own. As should by now be apparent, America’s president is a determined enabler of America’s enemies, and equally determined betrayer of her friends. In the five years since he took office he has lost the war in Iraq, giving up the military presence that thousands of Americans gave their lives to secure, while turning that benighted nation over to Iran; he has lost the war in Afghanistan by announcing his intention to lose it in advance and by forcing our troops to fight under rules of engagement that tied their hands and got them killed. He has lost Libya by conducting a unilateral, illegal and unauthorized aggression against an American ally, murdering its leader and turning its streets over to mobs of terrorists. In the course of these betrayals Obama has violated every principle he invoked as a senator to justify his attacks on George Bush’s war in Iraq. But then, Obama is a compulsive and brazen liar on matters both foreign and domestic.

In the Middle East, Obama has lost Egypt, its largest and most important nation. Until Obama intervened in its internal affairs and overthrew its pro-American president, Egypt had been an American ally for 40 years. In Egypt and throughout the Middle East, Obama and his secretaries Clinton and Kerry, have put American power and influence behind the Muslim Brotherhood an Islamic terrorist organization with attitudes indistinguishable from Hitler’s Nazi Party, except that it claims to take its direction from Allah.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the spawner of al-Qaeda, the creator of Hamas and the source of the global jihad against America and the West. Obama’s support for the Brotherhood has not only cost us our Egyptian ally, but it has opened the door for Putin’s imperial Russia to replace us as the Great Power influence in the region.

On top of these betrayals of America’s interests, Obama has systematically appeased our most deadly enemy in the region, the terrorist regime in Iran. In particular, he has conspired to insure that the Iranian mullahs, who have sworn to wipe America and Israel from the face of the earth, are successful in their drive to acquire nuclear weapons.

While giving aid and comfort to America’s mortal enemies, Obama has turned his back on the only democracy in the Middle East, and America’s most faithful and important ally. He has thrown his country’s enormous weight behind Islamic radicals whose goal – stated in so many words – is to obliterate the state of Israel and push the Jews who inhabit it into the sea. To finish the job that Hitler started.

Read more at Front Page

UAE, Saudis Lash Out at U.S. Gov’t and Orgs Supporting Islamists

UAE2BY RYAN MAURO:

The United Arab Emirates is protesting the State Department for its perceived support for a prosecuted jihadist, in a rare expression of diplomatic anger towards the U.S. Saudi Arabia is also demanding that Qatar shut down two U.S. organizations based in its territory for advancing the Muslim Brotherhood cause.

The UAE is angry over a  human rights report that criticizes it for preventing citizens from forming political parties. It mentions Ahmed al-Dakki, also known as Hassan al-Diqqi, who formed a party named Ummah. The term refers to the collective body of Muslims around the world.

The State Department did not mention that the UAE justified its ban on al-Dakki’s party by pointing out that he leads an Islamist fighting force in Syria. He is a regional officer for the Ummah Conference and was seen in a video asking Muslims to donate weapons, money and fighters.

Al-Dakki works with Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, another member of his political party. In December, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned him because he’s part of the Al-Qaeda network.

He transferred at least $250,000 to Al-Shabaab (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia) and around $600,000 to Al-Qaeda in Syria. At one point, he was transferring $2 million every single month to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He also financed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (its Yemen affiliate) and Asbat al-Ansar (an affiliate in Lebanon).

Read more at Clarion Project

 

Shifting Mideast Sands Reveal New Alliances

shifting.sands.middle.eastBy Jonathan Spyer:

A number of events in recent weeks cast light on the current intersecting lines of conflict in the Middle East. They reflect a region in flux, in which new bonds are being formed, and old ones torn asunder.

But amid the confusion, a new topography is emerging.

This was the month in which a long-existent split in the Sunni Arab world turned into a gaping fissure. On March 5th, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they were withdrawing their ambassadors from the Emirate of Qatar.

This decision was clearly a response to Qatar’s continued support and sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. This movement is regarded as a subversive threat by the three Gulf states. They are worried by the Brotherhood’s capacity for internal subversion.

Qatar, by contrast, affords generous subsidies to its tiny citizen body, and has little to fear from potential internal unrest.  It continues to support the Brotherhood and to domicile key leaders of the Egyptian branch of the movement. The latter is now engaged in an insurgency against the Egyptian authorities.

Saudi patience was at an end. The removal of the ambassadors reflects this.

On March 7th, Saudi Arabia made the additional move of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.  A Saudi researcher and former general, Dr. Anwar Eshki, was quoted on the Now Lebanon website as asserting that the decision was made with particular focus on the Egyptian Brotherhood, which is involved in “terrorist” activity.

In the same week, an Egyptian court banned all activities by the Hamas organization in Egypt, and referred to the movement as a “terrorist organization.”

The proximity of these announcements reflects the very close emergent alliance between Saudi Arabia and the de facto Sisi regime in Egypt, which is likely to become de jure following presidential elections later this year.

This alliance is the core component of an emergent dispensation in the Sunni Arab world which also includes UAE, Bahrain and Jordan, as well as the fragile West Bank Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.

This alliance is set to emerge as the strongest element among the Sunni Arabs.

It is opposed both to the Iran-led, mainly Shia “resistance” bloc, and to what is left of the Qatar/Muslim Brotherhood alliance that just a short year ago was proclaiming itself the wave of the future in the Middle East.

The Hamas authority in Gaza has no buy into the new Saudi-Sisi bloc.  Formerly aligned with Iran, it put its bets on the Qatar/Muslim Brotherhood axis.

But this putative bloc was fatally damaged by the Sisi coup in Egypt of July 3rd, 2013, and by the departure of the Muslim Brotherhood-related Nahda party in Tunisia.

Hamas appears to be trying to find its way back to the Iranians.  Gaza’s “foreign minister” Mahmoud al Zahar and Iran’s parliament spokesman Ali Larijani both made statements this week suggesting that relations had returned to normal between Teheran and Hamas.

It is not clear what this actually means.  But Iranian funding to Hamas in Gaza was slashed following the latter’s failure to offer support to the Iranian client regime in Damascus. It is unlikely that Iran has either forgotten or forgiven.  Al-Zahar, in any case, is among those Hamas officials most closely supportive of Iran and his statements should not be taken as representing the movement as a whole.

Read more at PJ Media

Also see:

Egypt Joins Other Arab States In Pulling Ambassador From Qatar

By gmbwatch:

US media has reported that Egypt joined three other Arab states last Thursday in withdrawing its ambassador from Qatar over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. According a New York Times report:

Egypt

Egypt

March 6, 2014 CAIRO — Egypt on Thursday became the fourth Arab state in two days to pull its ambassador from Qatar over its support for Islamists around the region, including the deposed Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, and his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood.

After the withdrawal of envoys from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Egypt’s statement formalizes a breach between Cairo and Doha that began shortly after the military ouster of Mr. Morsi last summer. Its move adds to Qatar’s sudden isolation in the region and reinforces the alliance binding Egypt’s new military-backed government to the other oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchies.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were deeply apprehensive about the potential influence on their own populations of either democratic or Islamist leadership in Cairo. Since the Egyptian military removed Mr. Morsi, the conservative gulf states have donated billions of dollars to support the new government, just as Qatar had spent heavily to try to prop up the previous Islamist one.

Egyptian state news media declared Thursday that most of the Arab world had now repudiated Qatar, asserting that Doha must now decide whether it would stand on the side of ‘Arab solidarity’ or against it.

Read the rest here.

The GMBDW has been comprehensively covering the increasing pressure faced by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf countries including:

  • The withdrawal by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates of heir envoys to Qatar
  • The troubles of Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi who has been antagonizing Gulf rulers with his increasingly strident criticisms.
  • The trials of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and cadre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • The actions taken by Saudi Arabia of late against the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • The increasingly difficult situation faced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait.

In a Featured Story, the GMBDW reported yesterday on the Saudi decision to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, noting that the decision did not appear to prevent two well-known leaders in the Global Muslim Brotherhood from attending a recent conference of the Saudi Muslim World League.

************

That last embedded link includes the following important observation:

However, research by the GMBDW suggests that while clearly targeting the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf, the move by Saudi Arabia may not reflect the Kingdom’s abandoning of support for the wider Global Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi media has reported on the conclusion of last week’s global conference sponsored by the Muslim World League (MWL) titled ““The Islamic World, Problems and Solutions” which among other things, proposed the institution of the King Abdullah Islamic Solidarity Prize. Established in 1962 as a means for the propagation of Saudi “Wahabbi” Islam. Muslim Brothers played an important role in its founding and the League has always been strongly associated with the Brotherhood. US government officials have testified that MWL has in the past been linked to supporting Islamic terrorist organizations globally. According to the MWL’s own reporting, two leaders in the Global Muslim Brotherhood were in attendance at last weeks conference.

  • Ahmed Al-Rawiidentified as the head of the Islamic Waqf in Britain (aka Europe Trust), was said to have discussed the issue of Muslim Minorities. Dr. Al-Rawi is the current head of the Europe Trust, the endowment/funding arm of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), and a former FIOE President. FIOE, in turn, is the umbrella group representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and known to have received funding from the MWL.
  • Issam Al-Bashiridentified as President of the Islamic Fiqh Council in Sudan, was said to have addressed the participants at the conference which he thanked for “their interest in supporting projects of Islamic solidarity.” Dr. Bashir has held numerous positions associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood including as a former director of the UK charity Islamic Relief, a member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, and as a former Minister of Religious Affairs in the political party of Hassan Al-Turabi, formerly closely tied to the Brotherhood.

The presence of two important leaders in the Global Muslim Brotherhood at an important Saudi conference invoking the name of King Abdullah suggests that the Saudi regime either not understand the GMB fully or may in fact be prepared to prepared to allow continued support of the GMB while attempting to limit or destroy the Brotherhood presence in the Gulf.

 

 

 

Saudi Arabia Threatens to Lay Siege to Qatar: Cooperation or Confrontation?

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah

By David Hearst:

Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade its neighbouring Gulf State Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, and expels local branches of two prestigious U.S. think tanks, the Brookings Doha Center and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute.

The threats against the television station Al Jazeera, Brookings Institute and the Rand Corporation, were made by the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal in a foreign minister’s meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh last week, according to a source who was present. Bin Faisal said only these acts would be sufficient if Qatar wanted to avoid “being punished.”

News of the threats to shut down the Brookings and Rand Corporation think tanks in Doha will embarrass the U.S. president Barack Obama, who is due to visit Riyadh at the end of month. His Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, where she told AP that she will tell officials from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that closer economic cooperation with Washington is a bridge to building deeper security ties.

The Saudi royal family were enraged and threatened, in equal measure, by the role Al Jazeera played in the first years of the Arab Spring , which saw fellow potentates deposed in popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt . They are now equally upset at the sympathetic coverage the Doha-based television station gives to the opposition, secular and Islamist, in Egypt. Three journalists from Al Jazeera, its Egypt bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy the Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed appeared in court in Cairo last week accused of “joining a terrorist group, aiding a terrorist group, and endangering national security.” A fourth journalist, from Al Jazeera Arabic, Abdullah al-Shami is being tried in a separate case.

The military backed government in Egypt accuse Al Jazeera of providing a platform for the supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi, and the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. “Journalists are not terrorists,” Fahmy shouted from the cage in the courtroom.

Read more at Huffington Post

Also see:

Saudi Arabia designates Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group: Interior Ministry

 

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against the military and interior ministry, while gesturing with four fingers, during a protest in front of riot police outside a police academy, on the outskirts of Cairo January 8, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against the military and interior ministry, while gesturing with four fingers, during a protest in front of riot police outside a police academy, on the outskirts of Cairo January 8, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH

(Reuters)Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, official Saudi television reported citing a statement by the Interior Ministry.

The kingdom has also designated Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, whose fighters are battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as terrorist organizations.

Friday’s move appeared to enforce last month’s royal decree where Riyadh said it would jail for between three and 20 years any citizen who fought guilty of fighting in conflicts abroad.

The kingdom’s authorities want to deter Saudis from joining rebels in Syria and posing a security risk once they return home.

Riyadh also fears the Brotherhood, whose conservative Sunni doctrines challenge the Saudi principle of dynastic rule, has tried to build support inside the kingdom since the Arab Spring popular revolutions in the Arab-speaking world.

In Egypt, the Brotherhood, which won every election following the toppling of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011, has been driven underground since the army deposed President Mohamed Mursi, a longtime member of the group that also endured repression in the Mubarak era.

The army-backed government in Cairo designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist group in December after accusing it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people. The Brotherhood condemned that attack and denies using violence.

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic religious authorities have previously spoken out against Saudi fighters going to Syria, but the Saudi Interior Ministry estimates that around 1,200 Saudis have gone there nonetheless.

Gulf States Tighten Screws on Qatar for Brotherhood Support

Qatar-HamasBY RYAN MAURO:

Qatar’s Arab neighbors are out of patience for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Three Gulf countries have withdrawn their ambassadors. The Qatari government will no longer be permitted to straddle both sides of the aisle. It must choose.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors in what the New York Times calls “an extraordinary rebuke.” Their joint statement said Qatar supports “hostile media” and forces that “threaten the security and stability of the Gulf states,” referring to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al-Jazeera network based in Doha.

The three Arab countries emphasized that they have tried to address Qatar privately to no avail. They stated they “have exerted massive efforts to contact Qatar on all levels to agree on a unified policy…to ensure non-interference, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any member state.”

The statement contradicts press reports and statements from Brotherhood leaders indicating they were being expelled and moving to the United Kingdom. The British government said it doesn’t consider the Brotherhood to be an extremist group and is open to giving them asylum.

The diplomatic rift comes as the UAE prosecutes a Qatari citizen for being part of the Muslim Brotherhood branch in the country, named Al-Islah.

The Saudis are most aggressively confronting Qatar, threatening to essentially blockade the country by closing the airspace and border. If the UAE were to join in, Qatar would have no land access to the rest of the world and air travel would be greatly complicated. The Saudis are also undercutting Qatari and Brotherhood influence among the Syrian rebels.

Read more at Clarion Project

Iran’ Nuclear Deal: Washington’s greatest mistake

By Walid Phares:

The Obama administration, in its first and second terms, has committed strategic mistakes in the Middle East which will undermine U.S. national and security interests for many years, even under subsequent administrations after 2016.

Obama & Rouhani

The damage done is severe, and a remedy seems out of reach unless earth shattering changes are applied to Washington’s foreign policy—either under the incumbent’s administration or the next. The common core of U.S. strategic mistakes has been the perception of partners in the region since day one of the post-Bush presidency. While Bush’s narrative on backing pro-democracy forces was right on track, the bureaucracy’s actions betrayed the White House’s global aim. By the time the Obama administration installed itself on Pennsylvania Avenue in 2009, little had been accomplished by the Bush bureaucrats in regards to identifying these pro-democracy forces and supporting them. When the current administration replaced Bush, however, civil society groups in the Middle East were systematically abandoned—aid to their liberal forces was cut off and engagement with the radicals became priority. The mistakes of the Bush bureaucracy became the official policy of the Obama administration.

Washington’s “new beginnings” in the region moved American Mideast policy in a backward direction on two major tracks. The first derailment was to partner with the Muslim Brotherhood, not the secular NGOs, in an attempt to define the future of Arab Sunni countries. The second was to engage the Iranian regime, not its opposition, in attempt to define future relations with the Shia sphere of the region. These were strategic policy decisions planned years before the Arab Spring, not a pragmatic search for solutions as upheavals began. Choosing the Islamists over the Muslim moderates and reformers has been an academically suggested strategy adapted to potential interests—even though it represents an approach contrary to historically successful pathways.  In June 2009, President Obama sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader asking for “engagement.” This move, coupled with Obama’s abandonment of the civil revolt in Iran that same month, sent a comforting message to the ruling Khomeinists: The United States is retreating from containment and will not support regime change in Iran. That undeniably emboldened Tehran to go on the offensive in the region after less than a decade of status quo.

The nuclear program was boldly defended despite American and UN economic sanctions; Iranian penetration of Iraq deepened; support to Hezbollah escalated with a presidential visit to Lebanon by Ahmedinijad; and aggressive backing of pro-Iranian elements in Arabia was sustained. The Arab Spring revealed more assertive Iranian behavior as Pasdaran and Hezbollah militias were dispatched to Syria in support of the struggling Assad regime. Across the region, the Ayatollahs increased their support to regimes and organizations bent on crushing civil society uprisings and also clamped down on their own oppositions—both inside the country and abroad. Tehran used Washington’s unending search for dialogue with the Ayatollahs as an opportunity to attack the exiled Iranian community inside Iraq, one of the best cards in the international community’s hands to pressure the Iranian regime. The tragedy of dismantling Camp Ashraf ran parallel to a systematic persecution of Iranian dissidents who rose in 2009 against the mullahs. U.S. retreat from Iran’s containment led to an unparalleled bleeding of the political opposition, the only long term hope for a real change in Iran.

Read more at HNN

Obama Appoints New National Security Director For Mideast; Robert Malley Heads Group With Board Members Tied To Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas

By :

US media is reporting that President Obama has selected Robert Malley, the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group (ICG), as the senior director at the National Security Council responsible for devising US policy in the Middle East. According to a New York Times report:

Robert Malley

Robert Malley

February 18, 2014 WASHINGTON — The last time Robert Malley went to work for the White House, it was as a Middle East peacemaker, advising President Bill Clinton during his futile effort to broker an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000.

Now, Mr. Malley is coming back to the White House, administration officials said on Tuesday. This time, he will manage the fraying ties between the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf, a job that says a lot about how America’s role in the Middle East has changed.

As a senior director at the National Security Council, Mr. Malley will help devise American policy from Saudi Arabia to Iran. It is a region on edge, with the Saudis and their Sunni neighbors in the gulf fearful that the United States is tilting away, after decades of close ties with them, toward a nuclear accommodation with Shiite Iran.

With his many contacts throughout the Arab world, Mr. Malley, who has been program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, would seem well suited for such a post. But he has also been something of a lightning rod in a field that can be culturally and ideologically treacherous.

In 2008, Mr. Malley was forced to sever his ties as an informal adviser to the campaign of Barack Obama when it was reported that he had met with members of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, which the State Department classifies as a terrorist organization.

The meeting, Mr. Malley said in a letter to The New York Times, was hardly a secret and came in the course of his work with the I.C.G., a nonprofit group focused on preventing conflict. Still, he felt obliged to distance himself from Mr. Obama to avoid misperceptions of the “candidate’s position regarding the Islamist movement.

Read the rest here.

Reporting by the GMBDW raises serious questions about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas within the ICG, founded in 1995 as “an international non-governmental organization on the initiative of a group of well known transatlantic figures who despaired at the international community’s failure to anticipate and respond effectively to the tragedies in the early 1990s of Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia.” The ICG is currently chaired by former US Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and former UN official Mark Malloch-Brown. Notable members of the board include former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, financier George Soros, former Nato commander Wesley Clark, and former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. In 2008 our predecessor publication reported that  International Crisis Group (CG) had issued a report recommending that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood be integrated in Egyptian political life and that Brotherhood posted a statement on its website saying that the group agrees with the recommendations. The GMBDW has reported since 2007 on the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas background of two of the ICG Trustees which may help to explain the ICG position on the Brotherhood.

Read more 

Also see:

Red Star Says It All: Egypt Makes Strategic Alliance with Russia

Sisi PutinBY RYAN MAURO:

Egyptian Defense Minister El-Sisi, whose power essentially makes him the head of state, made his first trip abroad. It wasn’t to the U.S., or even to Saudi Arabia. It was to Russia, where he was photographed wearing a jacket with a red star given to him by President Putin.

This single photograph sums up what has happened since the Muslim Brotherhood was toppled from power in Egypt. The Egyptian government immediately turned to Russia after the U.S. criticized the toppling of the Brotherhood and the subsequent crackdown on the Islamist movement. Egypt’s Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are also moving towards Russia in response to U.S. policy towards Iran.

This change in relations was music to the ears of President Putin, who said in a national address that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the century. When Egypt embraced Russia, the Egyptian Foreign Minister said, “We want to give a new impetus to our relations and return them to the same high level that used to exist with the Soviet Union.”

Both parties have agreed that they want to return to the days of the Cold War. That agreement was on display when Putin gave El-Sisi the jacket bearing a red star and he publicly wore it.

Putin signaled to the Egyptian delegation that his meeting with El-Sisi isn’t just about selling arms. It’s strategic positioning. He told them, “Egypt is the center of stability in the Middle East.”

The language of the Russian government is clearly designed to contradict that of the U.S. Putin zeroed in on the points of friction between the U.S. and Egypt.

The U.S. opposed the Egyptian military’s toppling of the Brotherhood and almost certainly opposes his inevitable presidential bid. Putin, on the other hand, came as close to endorsing El-Sisi’s candidacy as a foreign head of state can.

Read more at Clarion Project

The Tribal Paradigm – They are Finally Beginning to Understand

yemen-regions-2By Mordechai Kedar:

I will begin on a personal note: I sometimes wonder if the things that I publish on this honorable stage reach decision makers in Israel, the Arab world or the world at large. I am usually fairly skeptical, because the conduct of Western politicians indicates a rather poor understanding of Middle Eastern matters, and the rulers in this region prefer their personal interests over the general good.

For years I have been claiming that the only thing that can save the population of the Middle East from sinking into a morass of violence, blood, tears and fire is to partition the dysfunctional states into emirates with a homogeneous population and traditional leadership emerging from within the people, not appointed by colonialists, whether from historical times or modern times. Only this type of framework can offer its citizens a reasonable quality of life.

Lately a glimmer of hope has begun to shine, with the government of Yemen deciding to divide the state into six regions, each of which with its own capital city: the region of Hadramawt and its capital Al Mukalla, the region of Saba (the modern name for the historical kingdom of Sheba) with its capital of Ma’rib; the region of Aden with its capital the port city of Aden; the region of Janad with its capital Taez; the region of Azal with its capital of Sana’a; the region of Tehama with its capital the port city of Hudaydah. The idea of partition has won the overwhelming support of the decision making bodies in Yemen.

In a federation of tribal regions, the general good must take precedence over any specific tribe and resources must be shared

The Basic principles behind the proposal:

  • Equality of citizenship for all citizens of the state, meaning that no tribe – even that of the president of the country – will have preferred status over any other tribe.
  • The regions will be autonomous and no region will attempt to interfere in the matters of any other region.
  • Regions with natural resources will cooperate in the exploitation of these resources with regions that have fewer such resources, especially regarding oil.
  • Regions will seek to achieve social and economic harmony in order to satisfy the needs of the population and grant it a life of dignity.
  • The authorities to be vested in the branches of government in each region and on every level will be determined in a federal constitution.

For our purposes, the important point in this plan is the fact that it is the fruit of the people of Yemen’s own public thought process and is based on familiarity with the social characteristics specific to each individual region. Each region has a solid social basis with familiar and legitimate leadership that is capable of establishing a way of life based on law and order that will be acceptable to the great majority of the population. Each region is capable of maintaining itself economically.

The capital of the federation will be Sana’a. Its municipal management will not be under the control of any of the regions, and the constitution will assure its neutrality and its independence. The city of Aden will have special status in the federal constitution, in order to assure that the port located in this city will serve all of the regions equally.

Each region will be able to partition itself into administrative districts according to its own considerations, that is, according to the internal distribution of its population. The purpose of this is to allow the tribes and their leaders to express themselves on the public stage.

The federal state will have a parliament in which each region will be represented. The natural resources of the well-endowed regions (in oil and minerals) will be managed transparently and fairly so that the state will be able to enjoy these resources, and the regions which do not have natural resources will not feel that they are economically marginalized members of the federation.

Free movement of goods, capital and services will encourage entrepreneurship and economic development

Each region will have economic freedom. Citizens, goods, capital and services will be able to move about freely, without customs-related barriers or prohibitions on imports or exports between regions, in order to encourage commercial activity and entrepreneurship.

The federal government will be responsible for conducting inter-regional activity, and it will watch for the development of pockets of economic neglect, because these pockets could become a source of public anger that may eventually cause violence to be directed against the general public.

The borders of the regions were determined by a committee of experts, who partitioned north Yemen into four regions and south Yemen into two. The committee is headed by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has been the president of Yemen for the two last years. At the meeting of the committee held in late January of this year (2014) he called on the members of the committee to act impartially, giving priority to the general good of the citizens of Yemen over the local interests of any sector of the population.

The fact that the president of the country was personally involved in the work of the committee is very important, because it clearly illustrates that he operates in a totally differently way from the failed policy of his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Salah, who insisted that the country remain one unit under his and his tribe’s sole control. Hadi, in contrast, tries to find a way to transfer authorities from the central government to the local leadership, thus responding to the sensitivities of a population that has never undergone a process of obscuring tribal identities.

Who will be responsible for privately owned weapons and recent jihadi immigrants?

This is the plan, and it has a broad and solid basis in social logic in a land as divided as Yemen, but the devil – as always – is in the small details, for example: who will deal with the weapons that are freely traded in the Yemenite markets, will it be the federal government or perhaps this will be assigned to the local government, which is, in many cases, managed by cousins of the weapons dealers. This matter is especially important, since in Yemen every man has at least one automatic, long barrel weapon, and whenever he feels that something of his was taken from him he uses his weapon freely.

The second question that casts a shadow on the plan is who will deal with the aliens who have entered Yemen from all over the Islamic world under al-Qaeda leadership; will it be the federal government or perhaps the local friends of these foreign jihadists. This matter will be especially problematic if responsibility for security is transferred to local governments, because then local militias will be able to impose their agenda on the population while claiming to be the “regional police”.

One one hand, local militias are supposed to be a legitimate force to impose the local interests on all of the people of the region and on their behalf, however – on the other hand – they may become crime organizations under the leadership of “war barons” dealing in drugs, weapons, goods and currency, sowing fear and terror among the population while being camouflaged as “local police”, who are acting within their authority and responsibility.

Conflicting ideals: the cohesive tribal unit vs. the greater Arab nation

Arab intellectuals who see the plan view it with significant doubt and great suspicion, because – in their opinion and according to their approach – the Arab nation must go in the direction of erasing the differences between the groups and unifying the people under the concept of one great Arab nation.

However, the deteriorating situation in Syria, Iraq and Libya, countries where there is a great deal of tribalism, prompts Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the president of Yemen, to go forward in the direction of partitioning the country. He and his associates do not want Yemen, which is similarly socially divided, to deteriorate as well into the situation that exists in Syria, Iraq and Libya, so they decided to take preemptive steps by increasing regional autonomy of the various sectors of the population, despite the implicit recognition that with this plan, traditional frameworks are given priority over the modern ideas of unity and social blending. Hadi and his associates understand well that they must tailor the country according to the “social dimensions” of the population, and not continue imposing upon the population a state that does not reflect the traditional social characteristics of most of its citizens.

Hadi takes a strategic decision not to fight the natural tendencies of the citizens

President Hadi has made a strategic decision: instead of shaping the people to fit the criteria of the state he has decided to shape the state according to the principles of the people. He is cooperating with the people and with its established inclinations, and does not forcibly try to impose upon the people a political template that most of the people of Yemen are not interested in.

In my opinion Hadi will enter the pantheon of leaders who have understood – sometimes after difficult and bloody struggles – that there is room to challenge the artificial political frameworks that had been determined by colonialist superpowers according to Europe’s interests, and to begin to establish frameworks according to the desires of the peoples of the Middle East.

And if, in a given place, the public is loyal to the tribal framework, then the most correct thing is to allow the the tribal framework to manage the life of its population according to its own principles and by means of its own traditional leadership. Is this scheme impervious to danger? No, however the modern political scheme has been proven to be a failed plan with no chance of success, and the hundreds of thousands of fatalities in Syria, Iraq and Libya are the irrefutable proof of this.

Hadi is willing to try the tribal paradigm, which we have been claiming for years is the only one capable of granting the people of the Middle East a reasonable way of life, and from this honorable stage, we wish him great success.

Do ‘Syria,’ ‘Iraq’ and ‘Lebanon’ Still Exist?

by Jonathan Spyer
The Tower
February 2014

For almost a century, the Middle East has been defined by the nation-states that emerged following the Allied victory in World War I and the end of the colonial era. Since then, strategic analyses of the region have concentrated on the relations between these states, and diplomatic efforts have generally attempted to maintain their stability and the integrity of their borders. As a result, the current map of the Middle East has remained largely unchanged over more than nine decades.

But this is no longer the case. The old maps no longer reflect the reality on the ground, and the region is now defined not by rivalry between nation-states, but by sectarian divisions that are spilling across the old borders and rendering them irrelevant. Today, there is a single sectarian war underway across the Middle East, one that threatens to engulf the entire region.

This war has a number of fronts, some more intense and active than others, but it is everywhere defined by sectarian conflict, especially the divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims. It is most intense in the area encompassing the current states of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon; but has also spread further afield—to Bahrain, northern Yemen, and to some degree Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia.

The core power on the Shia side is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and founding patron of Hezbollah, which until 9/11 held had killed more Americans than any terror group in the world. The Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Maliki government and assorted Shia militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are all allies or proxies of the Islamic Republic, which is capable of rendering substantial assistance to its friends through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a powerful military and economic force that possesses substantial expertise and experience in building proxy organizations and engaging in political and paramilitary warfare.

On the Sunni side, the dominant power is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which after 9/11 has been wary of Tehran, but also has struggled against the Islamists of Al Qaeda. Its allies include various groups among the Syrian rebels, the March 14 movement in Lebanon, the military regime in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, and sometimes Turkey. The Saudis, however, are at something of a disadvantage. They possess no parallel to the IRGC, and have problematic relations with the extreme Sunni jihadists of al-Qaeda, who have played a prominent role in the fighting on all three major fronts.

How did this situation come about? Is there evidence of a clear linkage between the various forces on the respective sides? Why is this conflict so extreme in certain countries—like Syria and Iraq—where it appears to be leading to the breakup of these states? How dangerous are these changes for the West?

Focusing on the areas of most intense conflict—Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon—can help us answer these questions.

This war is a result of the confluence of a number of circumstances. First, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are all home to a host of different sectarian and ethnic communities. The stark divisions that exist in these societies have never been resolved. In Syria and Iraq, they were suppressed for decades by brutal dictatorial regimes. The Assad regime in Syria and Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq were family dictatorships based on minority sectarian communities—the Alawis in Syria and the Arab Sunnis in Iraq—while claiming to rule in the name of pan-Arab nationalism. In service of this ideology, the Syrian and Iraqi regimes ruthlessly put down ethnic and sectarian separatism in all its forms; in particular, Shia Islamism in Iraq, Sunni Islamism in Syria, and the Kurdish national movement in both countries. All were treated without mercy.

Lebanon, by contrast, is a far weaker state, which was ruled by a power-sharing arrangement between ethnic and religious groups that collapsed into civil war in 1975. The issues underlying that war were never resolved; instead, between 1990 and 2005 the Syrian army presence in Lebanon ended all discussion of basic issues of national identity.

Over the last decade, the once ironclad structures of dictatorship and suppression that kept ethnic and sectarian tensions from erupting have weakened or disappeared. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq destroyed the Saddam Hussein regime. A sectarian Shia government, based on the Shia Arab majority and conditionally accepted by the Kurds, took its place. In Syria, a brutal civil war has severely curtailed the power of the Assad regime, which now rules only about 40 percent of the country’s territory. The Sunni Arab majority and the Kurdish minority have carved out autonomous sectarian enclaves in the 60 percent that remains.

Western hopes that a non-sectarian identity would take hold in the areas formerly ruled by Saddam and the Assads have proved persistent but illusory.

Remarks about Iraq made by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 2004 sum up these hopes and the tendency to self-delusion that often accompanies them. “What has been impressive to me so far,” Rice said, is that Iraqis—whether Kurds or Shia or Sunni or the many other ethnic groups in Iraq—have demonstrated that they really want to live as one in a unified Iraq…. I think particularly the Kurds have shown a propensity to want to bridge differences that were historic differences in many ways that were fueled by Saddam Hussein and his regime… What I have found interesting and I think important is the degree to which the leaders of the Shia and Kurdish and Sunni communities have continually expressed their desires to live in a unified Iraq.

This faith is shared by the Obama Administration, and as a result, it has continued to support the Shia-dominated government in Iraq, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It sees Maliki’s opposition to Sunni insurgents in western Anbar province as an elected government’s opposition to extremist rebels. This fails to take into account the sectarian nature of the Maliki government itself and the discriminatory policies he has pursued against the Sunnis of western Iraq.

The reemergence of sectarian conflict so evident in Iraq has also emerged in Syria and is, in turn, spilling over into neighboring Lebanon. Lebanon was first drawn into the conflict as a result of the significant and highly effective intervention in Syria in support of the Assad regime by Iran’s Lebanon-based terrorist army, Hezbollah. This quickly led to retaliation against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon by elements among Syria’s Sunni rebels. Supporters of the Sunni rebels have succeeded in attacking Hezbollah’s Dahiyeh compound in south Beirut five times. The bombing on January 2 was carried out by a young Lebanese member of an organization called ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) named Qutaiba Muhammad al-Satem; ISIS are Islamic extremists who have been operating as a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.

 

A map of Syria showing zones of control by the regime and various militias. (Image Source: WikiMedia Commons)

While Hezbollah’s decision to intervene on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria and the subsequent Sunni reaction is partially the result of the divided nature of Lebanon and Syria and their unresolved questions of national identity, larger regional conflicts, also of a sectarian nature, are a driving force behind the violence.

Read  more 

Iran’s bomb in the basement

Iranian-nuclear-weapon-450x337By Caroline Glick:

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

It is happening in slow motion, to be sure.

But we are witnessing how a nuclear armed Iran is changing the face of the Middle East.

For years, US leaders, including President Barack Obama, warned that a nuclear armed Iran would spark a regional arms race.

And this is happening.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens (a former Jerusalem Post editor in chief) noted this week, Turkey signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan that includes “a provision allowing Turkey to enrich uranium and extract polonium, a potential material for nuclear weapons.”

Saudi Arabia has long had a nuclear cooperation deal withPakistan, whose nuclear weapons program the Saudis financed.

Jordan and Egypt have both raised the prospect of developing nuclear programs.

And in 2007, Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear installation built for it by North Korea and paid for by Iran.

In his article, Stephens cited a recent report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board stating that the world is entering into “a new nuclear age” that, as we see is characterized by everyone, including non-state actors, seeking to develop and proliferating nuclear capabilities.

Iran’s nuclear status has opened the floodgates to this era of nuclear chaos.

Also in response to Iran’s nuclear progress, Gulf states and others are treating Iran with newfound deference. Kuwait,Qatar and Oman all seem to be breaking ranks with Saudi Arabia by expressing support and indeed obedience to Iran.

Shortly after word broke in late November that the US and its partners had reached an interim nuclear deal with Iran, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammed Javad Zarif took a victory lap in Kuwait and Oman.

In his press conference with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Zarif said, “We believe that a new era has begun in ties between Iran and regional states which should turn into a new chapter of amicable relations through efforts by all regional countries.”

Zarif also visited Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. In Beirut, he took on the role previously held by the US and France when he mediated between Hezbollah and the March 14 movement to form a new government.

The fact that Hezbollah has since reneged on its agreement to the deal doesn’t mean that Iran is weaker than it thought. Hezbollah is Iran’s proxy. Its refusal to join the government means that Iran is now demanding better terms than it previously accepted. Its new terms require total Hezbollah domination of the country.

As Michael Rubin reported in Commentary this week, the Iraqi Kurds, who have been US allies for decades, have now accepted Iranian mediation of their leadership crisis.

All of this newfound deference toward Iran owes entirely to Iran’s new nuclear status.

Read more at Front Page