American Day of Reckoning for Muslim Brotherhood?

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (Photo: Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, March 22, 2018:

The Muslim Brotherhood’s sigh of relief after being rescued by Secretary of State Tillerson and National Security Adviser McMaster has been replaced by a sweaty panic.

With Tillerson out and Pompeo in and McMaster’s days numbered, it is now probable that the Muslim Brotherhood will finally be designated by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, paving the way for its infrastructure in America to begin being dismantled.

Groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood network like the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamaat ul-Fuqra are likely to see a similar fate. President Trump’s desire to pressure Pakistan and more closely ally with India adds to the likelihood that these Pakistani-led groups will be blacklisted.

The incoming secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, was one of the earliest cosponsors of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act when he was a member of Congress. Now, as secretary of state, he has the authority to designate Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).

The newest version of the legislation is backed by 75 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate version introduced by Senator Ted Cruz has 4 cosponsors.

Now, most of the Trump Administration’s top officials are staunch foes of the Brotherhood, including:

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was one of the few early cosponsors of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act when he was a Senator.
  • Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who was forced to withdraw a senior appointment he desired who was a strong ally of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. However, he has articulately made the case for identifying the enemy as “political Islam” and described the negative impact of the Obama Administration’s friendly attitude towards the Brotherhood.
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, who was a cosponsor of the legislation when he was a congressman.
  • Senior adviser and chief speechwriter Stephen Miller
  • National Security Council’s Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Communications Michael Anton
  • Senior White House Adviser to the Department of Homeland Security Frank Wuco
  • Senior Department of Homeland Security Adviser Katharine Gorka (who is the wife of former Deputy Assistant to the President Dr. Sebastian Gorka)

It is almost universally reported that National Security Adviser McMaster is about to be replaced, despite Trump’s denials (just like his denials before Tillerson was fired).

The leading candidate for his job is former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, another known supporter of FTO designation for the Brotherhood.

Trump’s pick for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, is presumably on the same page because Pompeo recommended her. However, she is expected to have a fight ahead of her to get confirmed by the Senate.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s position is not known. She previously struck a neutral tone when asked about designating the Brotherhood, stopping short of defending Tillerson and McMaster’s known positions at the time, saying, “That is not something that has been discussed within the administration.”

Outside of the White House, President Trump is back to consulting with his former Deputy Assistant Dr. Sebastian Gorka, a passionate voice for designating the Brotherhood as an FTO.

Pompeo’s appointment represents a stunning reversal of fortune for the Muslim Brotherhood, which previously succeeded in getting plans for such a designation shelved. One Brotherhood official said the Islamist group had spent $5 million to lobby officials and influence the media. Brotherhood apologists even succeeded in influencing CIA assessments that conveniently leaked to the media.

The Brotherhood also deployed its defenders to Washington, D.C. and Qatar went on a spending bingehiring lobbyists, particularly those with close ties to the Trump campaign and the ability to influence Jewish Americans.

Qatar even managed to seduce a former senior staffer to Senator Ted Cruz—the very man who introduced the Senate version of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act—with a contract for $50,000 per month. Even President Trump reversed course on Qatar.

And now—the Muslim Brotherhood network is screaming.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), identified by the Justice Department as an “entity” of the Muslim Brotherhood, is fighting tooth and nail to stop Pompeo from getting confirmed by the Senate. One of the favorite tactics of the Brotherhood, especially CAIR, is deception.

CAIR has predictably labeled Pompeo as an “Islamophobe,” even though he empowered a convert to Sunni Islam at the CIA to fight Al-Qaeda and Iran. Its factsheet uses out-of-context quotes to paint Pompeo as an extremist, while CAIR paints the Brotherhood as “moderate.”

The evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group is overwhelming, including terrorist activity in the U.S. Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist group, is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing. Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 plot had links to the Brotherhood’s network in America.

The terror-funding trial of the Holy Land Foundation proved, in detail, that the Brotherhood’s international leadership runs a Hamas support network on American soil.

The Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood has long been intertwined with Al-Qaeda, just like the Libyan and Syrian branches. The Jordanian branch is essentially a single unit with Hamas. The biggest resistance is in regards to the Egyptian wing, the birthplace of the Brotherhood.

Investigator Patrick Poole’s three-part interview with a former senior Egyptian counterterrorism official connects the dots between the Brotherhood and the terrorists it claims are “rogues” that it should not be held accountable for.

Failing a blanket designation of the Brotherhood, an alternative approach would be to designate several Brotherhood branches where the group’s connection to terrorism is clearer. This approach would meet less political resistance.

The changes within the Trump Administration indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood’s day of reckoning is finally near.

Also see:

American political conduct can be attributed to a syndrome whose features are the following: It starts with the belief that unalloyed evil does not exist, despite appearances, and that, by personal contact and engagement, all evil can be redeemed. This belief is baked into American popular culture, including television series for young and adult audiences alike. It is embedded in the media, the political culture and the educational system. The syndrome attributes almost magical powers to the moment of personal contact that neutralizes evil and renders it impotent to deceive. If and when evil cooperates with you, it cannot be a case of cold self-interest, but must necessarily be the fruit of outreach and engagement.

This syndrome, which stubbornly denies reality, compounds other cultural differences between democracies and dictatorships, and renders the West almost unable to contend with evil. Only a few days ago, when North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un invited the United States to “a heartfelt dialogue,” the Western media swallowed this whole and celebrated it with great fanfare. (See, for example, “Raising Hopes, North Korea Offers to Talk about Its Nuclear Arsenal,”, March 6, 2017)

In 1988, an FBI source inside the Muslim Brotherhood revealed that the Islamist group’s proxies in America had a six-phase plan to “institute the Islamic Revolution in the United States.” [1]  Among these front groups was The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a think tank committed to the “Islamization of knowledge.”[2] This ideology, as Professor Vali Nasr writes, entails the subordination of scientific inquiry to “the mere implementation of the assorted teachings of the Shariʿa.”[3]


10 Big Changes to Expect With Pompeo at State

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, March 21, 2018:

By replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Trump has hit the “restart” button on his foreign policy a little over a year into his term.

Trump referenced the Iran deal as the point of contention sparking Tillerson’s departure, as Tillerson and his State Department colleagues favored a policy of making additional demands with additional pressures instead of withdrawing from the deal.

Expect 10 big changes in foreign policy once Pompeo is officially the Secretary of State.

1.Unleashing the sleeping hounds upon on our enemies

Expect a “shadow war” against our enemies that will likely out-do the Obama Administration’s strong covert attacks on the Iranian-North Korean nuclear and missile programs.

As CIA Director, Pompeo reportedly ordered a dramatic increase in human intelligence-gathering, covert operations, cyber security and counterintelligence. He loosened restrictions on drone strikes and other measures to kill terrorists.

Pompeo’s top terrorist hunter was Michael D’Andrea, who married a Muslim woman overseas he met while serving undercover and subsequently converted to Sunni Islam. As the New York Times explained, “perhaps no single CIA official is more responsible for weakening Al-Qaeda.”

D’Andrea, also known as “The Dark Prince” and “Ayatollah Mike,” oversaw the successful search for Osama Bin Laden, as well as the impressive killing of the elusive Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyah.

When Pompeo took over the CIA, he informed the “Dark Prince” he has a new focus: Iran.

In North Korea, Pompeo argued that the ultimate solution should be to “separate the regime from this system” that includes Kim Jong-Un departing from power. His comments contradicted Tillerson’s earlier statement that the U.S. does not seek the ultimate removal of the cultish dictatorship.

In pursuit of that objective, Pompeo has been hoping to support North Korean opposition forces that can destabilize the regime, threatening the only thing that Kim Jong-Un really cares about: himself.

Trump believes that strong pressure caused the potential breakthrough in diplomacy that was recently announced. He will be inclined towards embracing Pompeo’s approach while publicly giving North Korea a chance for a positive change in relations.

Pakistan should also be worried as President Trump has unequivocally stated that Pakistan will finally be held accountable for its role in sustaining the global jihadist insurgency, including killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Pompeo accurately stated that victory in Afghanistan and getting to some kind of ceasefire with the Taliban is wholly contingent upon the Taliban and interlinked jihadist groups losing their safe haven in Pakistan. To date, the U.S. has refrained from targeting most of Pakistan’s proxies with the infrastructure that sustains Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

To Tillerson’s credit, his State Department designated Hizbul Mujahideen, a jihadist group that is essentially an arm of Pakistani intelligence, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Trump Administration is likely to target the Al-Qaeda-linked groups who maintain a large infrastructure in Pakistan and Kashmir that reaches into the U.S.

2. Ending the Iran deal and a broader attack on Iranian influence

Pompeo’s position on the nuclear deal with Iran is quite clear: “roll it back.”

He believes Iran should not be allowed to have advanced nuclear enrichment capabilities or to the ability to quickly “break out” from a civilian nuclear program into a bomb-building program.

That’s almost the opposite of Tillerson (and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster), who criticized the deal but fought to preserve it.

Pompeo also desires to “push back” Iran, meaning forcing its militias, terrorist proxies and various regional influence operations into retreat. Iran’s efforts include murdering American troops in Afghanistan and creating a Hezbollah-like force in Yemen.

A big question remains about whether Trump will embrace regime change—albeit using more acceptable words, given his consistent opposition to overthrowing foreign governments.

President Trump rooted on the brave protestors in Iran with repeated public encouragement (though it should have continued right up to today), but never formally aligned U.S. policy with their ultimate goal.

Senior officials confirmed to me that the Trump Administration actually rejected overthrowing the Iranian regime as a strategy. This account is substantiated by others who got separate briefings from administration officials who denied trying to remove the theocracy from power.

Pompeo is likely to be more inclined towards this option—the best anti-war, pro-peace option available. As secretary of state, he’s also likely to embrace the Sunni Arab plan to destabilize Iran and its Qatari allies that Tillerson rejected.

3. Rejecting the Islamist lobby of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, Iran and (possibly) Turkey

Tillerson could not have been more disappointing when it came to confronting the Sunni Islamist lobbies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey. The result has been the loss of a tremendous opportunity to pressure Qatar as the Arabs ganged up on the terror-sponsor following Trump’s positively-received speech in Riyadh.

Tillerson, more than any other Trump Administration official, bears responsibility for saving the Muslim Brotherhood from being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization so its U.S. network could begin being dismantled. Tillerson praised Turkish dictator Erdogan and shilled for Qatar.

One cannot help but suspect that Tillerson’s business ties from leading Exxon-Mobil impacted his decision-making towards his former business partners. When Tillerson was widely reported to be on the edge of quitting, he was said to tell colleagues that, besides Iran, his biggest area of difference with Trump was Qatar.

Why was he so passionate about standing up for Qatar out of all the complicated foreign policy he had to deal with?

When the Arab world put its foot down on Qatar, Tillerson’s State Department contradicted the commander-in-chief, even casting doubt on our Arab partners’ allegations that Qatar sponsors Islamist terrorists—a widely known, indisputable fact.

Qatar also launched a well-funded lobbying campaign targeting former Trump campaign officials and seducing former adversaries, like a senior staffer to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act. The result was Trump flip-flopping on our terror-sponsoring “ally.”

The Tillerson State Department, like the Obama Administration before it, gave a platform to a radical cleric linked to the Muslim Brotherhood so he could win a fanbase as an admirable “moderate” against terrorism.

In August 2017, Clarion Project broke the story that a pro-Erdogan Muslim Brotherhood coalition known as the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations had visited the State Department to express their opinion on the Islamist-manufactured Temple Mount crisis facing Israel. The coalition didn’t say much about the meeting except that it was “encouraged by the constructive dialogue.”

The State Department defended the meeting and added an extra dose of madness to the situation. It turned out there were more meetings. The red carpet was rolled out for the council. They had “met a cross-section of working-level officials from different offices in the [State] Department,” it said.

Here’s another example:

As Dr. Daniel Pipes pointed out in August 2017, Tillerson’s State Department was even facilitating meetings between official Indonesian visitors (and presumably others) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group with a history of ties to Islamic terrorist and extremist groups. The Justice Department listed CAIR as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a terrorism-financing trial and identified it as an “entity” of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, a secret body established to covertly assist the Hamas terrorist group.

As a congressman, Pompeo was one of the earliest and staunchest supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, knowing full well that put him in the crosshairs of the Islamist lobby backed by Qatar and Turkey.

However, the Trump Administration’s stance towards Erdogan has been disturbingly friendly, so it is unclear how much change will come in that direction. Pompeo gave a disappointing answer when asked whether the Kurds are America’s friend that could foreshadow a continuance of the Trump Administration’s frequent choosing of Turkey over the Kurds.

Yet, when it came to Iran, he was not swayed by local pressure from businesses eager to trade with the regime, such as by selling aircraft and associated equipment. In fact, he wrote an article titled, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Business With Iran.”

4.The Muslim Brotherhood and possibly Jamaat ul-Fuqra are likely to be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

When it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, Pompeo gets it. He even went head-to-head with local Islamists when he was a congressman, bringing public pressure upon the Islamic Society of Wichita for having a terrorism-linked guest speaker. The mosque cancelled the event, blaming him for causing security costs to get too high.

The case for designating Jamaat ul-Fuqra, whose Muslims of the Americas (MOA) front is known for claiming to have 22 “Islamic villages” in America, is just as strong as it is for the Muslim Brotherhood—if not stronger. If Pompeo is made aware of it, he is likely to designate the group, especially due to its links to the recently-designated Hizbul Mujahideen.

5. Even stronger stance with Israel against Islamism and its associated hatreds.

If you thought the Trump Administration was favorable towards Israel now, just wait to see what happens with Pompeo in charge of foreign policy.

Pompeo sees Israel as a beachhead of secular democracy stemming the wave of Islamism headed towards the West. Even under President Trump, there were danger signs for Israel emerging.

6. Pressure on Islamic leadership

Pompeo understands that the jihadist threat is rooted in an ideological interpretation of Islam and that Muslim leaders who fail to unequivocally stand against terrorism and the pursuit of theocratic sharia law are part of the problem.

Critics of Pompeo are taking these comments out of context and conveniently ignoring his support for D’Andrea, the Sunni Muslim convert who led the covert operations against Al-Qaeda and now, due to Pompeo, is doing the same against Iran.

Pompeo’s observation about a lack of “Thomas Jeffersons” in the Middle East does not reflect anti-Muslim bigotry but a desire to help Muslim modernist reformers.

7. He understands the ideological war

A review of his statements and actions have a common denominator: He knows how to wage ideological warfare against America’s adversaries. The aforementioned example of how he pressured the mosque in Wichita proves this point.

As CIA Director, he released portions of Osama Bin Laden’s archive that the Obama Administration refused to—presumably because they showed far closer ties between Bin Laden/Al-Qaeda and Iran than it wished for the public to know.

He saw the value in releasing evidence to expose both enemies. This is a no-brainer that you’d assume would happen all the time but it does not. In the past, our government failed to embrace transparency and cautious release of information as a strategy, and more broadly, a moral imperative for our democracy.

8.Tougher on Russia, Venezuela and Cuba

It must be remembered that Russia is backing elements of the Islamist cause, particularly the Taliban, Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah. It also does not consider Hamas to be a terrorist group, and Putin’s puppets in Chechnya are promoting puritanical beliefs.

Expect Pompeo to hold Putin accountable as much as President Trump will let him.

Pompeo does not fall for the manipulations of Russia, Iran and Assad that are designed to present themselves as the “moderate” solutions to the threat of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the like. He disagrees with Trump regarding the helpfulness of Russia’s role in Syria.

He is also not a “Russia denier.” He doesn’t continually dismiss any intelligence analysis concluding that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election and use our hyper-partisanship to rip apart American society and use our dysfunction to discredit the ideology of secular democracy.

Pompeo also sounds like he advocates a tougher line on the Venezuelan dictatorship that is allied with Iran and expressed concern about Cuban intelligence operations against the U.S.

9. Confronting the “non-state hostile intelligence services”

Pompeo is greatly concerned with how anti-American actors, including Islamists and obviously Russia, can use “non-state hostile intelligence services” like Wikileaks to wreak havoc on the West’s intelligence operations, military operations and international partnerships, as well as dominate media cycles to their preferred narrative.

As I wrote here, Julian Assange is dedicated to fanning the flames of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.Comedian Stephen Colbert, in a rare break from character and politeness, confronted Assange on behalf of U.S. troops in this 2010 interview before bashing Wikileaks became a left-wing pastime.

One of the most important people involved with Wikileaks, Israel Shamir, praised Iranian President Ahmadinejad and refers to Palestinian terrorists as “martyrs.”

He’s also a Holocaust denier and, since 2010, acts as the liaison between Assange and the Russian state-controlled media. The ties between the anti-Semitic Israel Shamir, Julian Assange and Russia are extensive and well-documented.

To give another famous example, a bipartisan U.S. House Intelligence Committee investigation into Edward Snowden concluded that he lied about numerous parts of his story and has close ties to Russian intelligence.

Pompeo is triggered when Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are mentioned.

In one public discussion, he said Snowden “absconded to the comfortable clutches of Russian intelligence, his treachery directly harmed a wide range of U.S. intelligence and military operations … In fact, a colleague of ours at the National Security Agency recently explained that more than a thousand foreign targets, people, groups and organizations, more than a thousand of them, tried to change how they communicated as a direct result of Snowden’s disclosures. That’s a staggering number.”

Snowden claims to have no relationship with Assange’s Wikileaks. That further illustrates the fact that these “non-state hostile intelligence services” are a growing threat and, for Islamists and the governments sponsoring them, present an incredible opportunity.

As Pompeo points out, these “activists’” emphasis on disclosures that hurt the West is telling. He said, “Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom.”

10. A Trump Administration more in unison and a better informed President Trump

The Trump Administration basically did not include the State Department. This divided was aggravated by the simple fact that Tillerson and Trump just didn’t get along and had too many differing opinions.

Unnamed officials were regularly quoting Trump as calling Tillerson too weak. Tillerson did not deny reports that he called Trump a “moron” at a meeting.

Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo has personal chemistry with Trump. He also upstaged Tillerson with his talent for educating Trump on foreign affairs using visuals that hold his attention.

Expect dramatic changes in the Trump Administration’s foreign policy and its approach towards Islamist extremism.


Of the most senior officials, only National Security Adviser McMaster stands in the way of an aggressive ideological war on Islamism. And it seems his days are numbered, with his likeliest replacement being former U.N. ambassador John Bolton.

The White House is denying that McMaster is on his way out the door, but we’ve heard those denials before. Trump needs to just do it.

We are over a year into the Trump presidency and, by the end of this year, we’ll probably be hearing about Democratic and possibly Republican candidates announcing their presidential candidacies.

There is no time to waste.

It’s time for Trump to get his team together and get his foreign policy moving.

Democracy Promotion is Our Responsibility as Guardians of the Liberal Order

Center for Security Policy, by Luis Fleischman, March 1, 2018:

The concept of democracy promotion has a negative connotation, particularly since the War in Iraq. The cost of the Iraq war and the public controversy over it generated an aversion towards democracy promotion. Such negativity was associated with idea that Americans soldiers are sacrificed for a cause that is not theirs. Losing lives over foreign democracies is not worthwhile and less so when instead of democracy what we see is civil war, anarchy and chaos.

The problem is not so much with the argument raised. In fact, it makes sense to think that sacrificing U.S. troops to build a foreign nation is too high of a price to pay. However, this argument has spilled into a general blindness regarding democracy promotion up to the point that there is aversion to even discussing the issue and against this background a neo-isolationist concept has developed in important sectors of the right and the left.

I will state that there is in the world today a deterioration of democracy that begins with elections, but quickly turns into a rule by executive decrees, subjugation of the branches of power, fraudulent elections, restriction of the press, and eventually violent repression of society.  They begin as illiberal democracies and end up in an authoritarian regime. The cases of Russia, Venezuela and Turkey are the clearest examples. Several countries in the Western hemisphere such as Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua have followed the Venezuelan example of establishing a powerful authority.  In Europe, countries such as Poland and Hungary are following suit.

The problem is that those regimes are not friendly to the liberal world order that the U.S. and its allies have tried to build. In the past, not every authoritarian regime was anti-American or anti-West. Many of them were authoritarian capitalistic or semi-capitalistic regimes that supported the U.S. during the cold war. The famous phrase attributed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that he is “a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch” no longer applies.

The new authoritarian regimes not only reject democracy but are also afraid of the liberal world order. The European Union has supported the liberal order for decades as democracy was a condition to enter the European Common Market. Spain and Portugal were able to join the group only after they transitioned to democracy. The U.S. also moved from its “Realpolitik” approach to supporting the spread of democracy in the world.

Thus, by definition a modern illiberal regime considers the West an adversary directly or indirectly.  By the same token, it does not feel committed to the same geo-strategic goals and values that the West promotes. As an example, Turkey, a member of NATO, has made alliances with Iran and Russia. It has also allowed ISIS to use its territory to sell its oil. Most recently, Turkey’s president Recep Tayip Erdogan publicly spoke to a six-year-old girl encouraging martyrdom confirming Mr. Erdogan’s radical Islamist views.

The notion of Turkey as an ally was not revisited by Western leaders. When a sector in the military attempted a coup d’état against Erdogan in the summer of 2016, the U.S. and the West condemned the coup more than they condemned the repressive measures and massive purges carried out in response to the coup. But today, we know better. Turkey’s membership in NATO means nothing. Erdogan, will continue to perpetuate himself in power through fraudulent and manipulative elections. He will also continue to claim there is democracy in Turkey because the country holds elections while using the “democratic mandate” to give legitimacy to anti-democratic measures. He will repress the Kurds and if necessarily will make alliances with NATO enemies.

Turkey is not alone. Venezuela has been a major commercial partner of the United States. Its oil sales were mostly to the U.S. The U.S. also refined Venezuela’s oil. The country is located in the heart of the Western Hemisphere. Venezuelan authoritarian leaders openly declared hostility to the United States, made alliances with Iran, terrorist groups and drug cartels.   Lately, we have applied pressure on Venezuela to democratize and even imposed sanctions on some its political and military leadership. However, this is not significant enough considering it is coming a decade too late.

The countries of Central Europe present a worrisome trend as well. Poland took a series of measures and passed laws that subordinated the courts to executive prerogatives. Poland has also curbed public gathering and restricted the freedom of the press. Most recently. it passed a law outlawing public discussion of Poles’ collaboration with the Nazis, something that affects not only freedom of speech but also freedom of research. Hungary has also cracked down on nonprofits, the press and on the judiciary, and has vindicated dubious figures of the past that collaborated with the Nazis. As a result, Poland and Hungary are currently at odds with the European Union. Their conflict with the European Union over democratic practices affects the unity of the free world. Moreover, the illiberal character of these countries and these tensions with Europe may push these countries into Russia or China’s sphere of influence. In fact, Hungary is already very close to the Kremlin. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warmed up to Moscow and received large loans from Russia. Likewise, there were reports about connections between Russian intelligence officers and far right groups in Hungary. Poland still views Russia as a threat, but nothing guarantees that this situation would not be reversed.

In terms of these countries’ relation with China, Orban enthusiastically opened his country to China. Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto has proudly pointed out that Hungary’s is China’s best ally in Central Europe.  Poland is the largest trade partner of China in Central Europe and the overall trade with China in this area is 57 billion dollars.

Nobody can assure that in the future Poland and Hungary will remain loyal to NATO. Both countries may see the West as an annoyance to their authoritarian style rather than an asset. The concept of free world may mean nothing to them in the end. Thus, if Russia is not attractive enough to the Poles, China will certainly be. After all China abhors democracy, and as the most recent decision by the Communist Party shows, authoritarian rulers can rule forever until their deaths. So, Poland and Hungary could well find in China a great source of support.

In February, some of these illiberal authoritarian democracies suffered a setback. Hungary’s ruling party lost a mayoral election raising questions about its chances to win elections in April. Ecuadorians voted not to allow the illiberal president Rafael Correa to run again. In a referendum Bolivian citizens voted against the indefinite reelection of the illiberal Evo Morales, who like Correa is also an ally of the Venezuelan government.

People in those countries are reacting to the authoritarian tendencies through the ballot or through demonstrations. This does not mean that the authoritarian rulers will give up. It is certainly not the case in Venezuela and not likely to be the case in Bolivia, two declared enemies of the United States.

What the United States needs is to develop an active foreign policy that promotes and defends democratic rule. This policy needs still to be designed in order to prevent the emergence of illiberal democracies. Every time such regime surfaces it is a strategic wound to the free world.   This is not a matter of just spreading our values. It is a matter of strengthening world stability and doing it in the strategic interest of the U.S. and its allies.

The time has come for U.S. policy makers to understand that at the end of the day democracy reflects the strength of the free world more than anything. Democracies might elect the wrong leader but they must have the chance to remove him/her from power in the next elections. The U.S. needs to defend this principle since its might makes it responsible to be the main guarantor of an order based on freedom. We are currently far from developing any systematic strategy to undertake such responsibility.

State Dept. Embraces Islamic Cleric Who OK’d Killing Americans in Iraq, Called for Israel’s Destruction

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Feb. 6, 2018:

Last Thursday, Sam Brownback was sworn in as the State Department’s new ambassador for religious liberty.

Today — in his first official speech as ambassador — Brownback openly embraced a hardline Islamic cleric who authorized a fatwa in 2004 justifying the killing of Americans in Iraq, and another fatwa in 2012 calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah’s past is no mystery to the State Department. For example, the Obama administration’s State Department had to repeatedly apologize in May 2014 for promoting Bin Bayyah as a moderate. However, the Obama administration then implemented a full-court press with the U.S. media and the D.C. foreign policy “Smart Set” to rehabilitate the image of the Mauritanian cleric.

The presence of multiple senior Trump State Department officials at an “interfaith” event in Washington, D.C. in support of Bin Bayyah’s efforts appears to confirm there will be no change. The Trump administration is continuing the engagement with Bin Bayyah they inherited from Obama — despite the fact that Bin Bayyah’s views on Israel are directly contrary to those of President Trump.

There is also an inherent contradiction in the Trump State Department embracing the interfaith efforts of an Islamic cleric who openly states on his website that Christians are going to hell. Bin Bayyah has also said that interfaith outreach to Jews in Arab lands should only be done with extreme caution — and only with Jews who oppose Israel.

Read more

UTT Throwback Thursday: President Should Drop Pakistan as Ally

Understanding the Threat, by John  Guandolo, Sept. 21, 2017:

It is being reported that President Trump is considering dropping Pakistan as a U.S. “ally” due to their obvious support for “terrorism.”

It’s about time.

Pakistanis showing support for Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden

The Quranic Concept of War – written in 1989 by a Brigadier General SK Malik of the Pakistani army with the forward by the Army Chief of Staff/former Pakistani President Zia ul Haq and the Preface by the Advocate General of Pakistan – is doctrine for the Pakistani military.  It makes clear that war against non-muslim forces is obligatory until Islam dominates the world.

After the 9/11 attacks, the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) aided Al Qaeda in moving men and equipment to safer locations anticipating U.S. retaliatory attacks.

Al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan for several years up until the time he was killed in a U.S. raid.

Pakistan used “aid” money provided by the United States government during the Obama Administration to expand its nuclear program.

Pakistani ISI created Lashkar e Taiba, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. government, which has conducted numerous jihadi attacks including the four-day long Mumbai (India) attack of 2008 which killed over 160 people.

Pakistan has never been a friend to the United States, because it is a driving force in the global jihad.

Pakistan needs to be crushed along with Saudi Arabia and Iran.

State Department Waging “Open War” on White House

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, 

  • “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.” — Foreign policy operative, quoted in the Washington Free Beacon.
  • Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict President Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.
  • “Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.” — Veteran foreign policy analyst, quoted in the Free Beacon.

The U.S. State Department has backed away from a demand that Israel return $75 million in military aid which was allocated to it by the U.S. Congress.

The repayment demand, championed by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was described as an underhanded attempt by the State Department to derail a campaign pledge by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to improve relations with the Jewish state.

The dispute is the just the latest example of what appears to be a growing power struggle between the State Department and the White House over the future direction of American foreign policy.

The controversy goes back to the Obama administration’s September 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel, which pledged $38 billion in military assistance to Jerusalem over the next decade. The MOU expressly prohibits Israel from requesting additional financial aid from Congress.

Congressional leaders, who said the MOU violates the constitutional right of lawmakers to allocate U.S. aid, awarded Israel an additional $75 million in assistance in the final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.

Tillerson had argued that Israel should return the $75 million in order to stay within the limits established by the Obama administration. The effort provoked a strong reaction from Congress, which apparently prompted Tillerson to back down.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) “strongly warned the State Department that such action would be unwise and invite unwanted conflict with Israel,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) added:

“As Iran works to surround Israel on every border, and Hezbollah and Hamas rearm, we must work to strengthen our alliance with Israel, not strain it. Congress has the right to allocate money as it deems necessary, and security assistance to Israel is a top priority. Congress is ready to ensure Israel receives the assistance it needs to defend its citizens.”

A veteran congressional advisor told the Free Beacon:

“This is a transparent attempt by career staffers in the State Department to f*ck with the Israelis and derail the efforts of Congressional Republicans and President Trump to rebuild the US-Israel relationship. There’s no reason to push for the Israelis to return the money, unless you’re trying to drive a wedge between Israel and Congress, which is exactly what this is. It won’t work.”

Another foreign policy operative said: “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and President Donald J. Trump (right) on February 1, 2017. (Image source: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.

August 10. The State Department hosted representatives of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group established by the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of mainstreaming political Islam in the United States. Behind closed doors, they reportedly discussed what they said was Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the removal of all Israeli control of the Temple Mount and holy areas of Jerusalem. Observers said the meeting was part of larger effort by anti-Israel organizations to drive a wedge between the Trump administration and Israel. The USCMO includes a number of organizations, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which promote “extreme anti-Israel views” and “anti-Zionist” propaganda, and which support boycotts of the Jewish state.

July 19. The State Department’s new “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016” blamed Israel for Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews. It attributed Palestinian violence to: “lack of hope in achieving statehood;” “Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank;” “settler violence;” and “the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount.” The report also characterized Palestinian Authority payments to the families of so-called martyrs as “financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners…to reintegrate them into society.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) called on the State Department to hold the PA accountable in State Department Country reports: “The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism…. At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause — PA leadership.”

June 14. Tillerson voiced opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, saying that such a classification would complicate Washington’s relations in the Middle East. During his confirmation hearings on January 11, by contrast, Tillerson lumped the Brotherhood with al-Qaeda when talking about militant threats in the region. He said:

“Eliminating ISIS would be the first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies. The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

June 13. During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson said he had received reassurances from President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority would end the practice of paying a monthly stipend to the families of suicide bombers and other attackers, commonly referred to by Palestinians as martyrs. One day later, Palestinian officials contradicted Tillerson, saying that there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis.

May 22. Tillerson sidestepped questions on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, while telling reporters aboard Air Force One they were heading to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.” Asked directly whether he considers the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty, Tillerson replied: “The wall is part of Jerusalem.”

May 15. In an interview with Meet the Press, Tillerson appeared publicly to renege on Trump’s campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have.”

Tillerson also appeared to equate the State of Israel and the Palestinians:

“As you know, the president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine. And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

Critics of this stance have argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would, instead, advance the peace process by “shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

March 8. The State Department confirmed that the Obama administration’s $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority, approved just hours before Trump’s inauguration, had reached its destination. The Trump administration initially had vowed to freeze the payment.

In July 2017, the Free Beacon reported that Tillerson’s State Department was waging an “open political war” with the White House on a range of key issues, including the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Iran portfolio, and other matters:

“The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda.”

A veteran foreign policy analyst interviewed by the Free Beacon laid the blame squarely on Tillerson:

“Foggy Bottom [a metonym for the State Department] is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”

Notable holdovers from the Obama administration are now driving the State Department’s Iran policy:

Michael Ratney, a top advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria policy. Under the Trump administration, Ratney’s role at the State Department has been expanded to include Israel and Palestine issues. Ratney, who was the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem between 2012 and 2015, oversaw $465,000 in U.S. grants to wage a smear to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office in 2015 parliamentary elections, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Ratney admitted to Senate investigators that he deleted emails containing information about the Obama administration’s relationship with the group.

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., a career foreign service officer who serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Shannon, the State Department’s fourth-ranking official, has warnedthat scrapping the Iran deal would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Any effort to step away from the deal would reopen a Pandora’s box in that region that would be hard to close again,” he said. His statement indicates that Shannon could be expected to lead efforts to resist any attempts to renege or renegotiate the deal; critics of the deal say that Iran’s continued missile testing has given Trump one more reason to tear up his predecessor’s deal with the Islamist regime.

Chris Backemeyer is now the highest-ranking official at the State Department for Iran policy. During the Obama administration, Backemeyer made his career by selling the Iran deal by persuading multinational corporations to do business with Iran as part of an effort to conclude the Iran nuclear deal.

Ratney, Shannon and Backemeyer, along with Tillerson, reportedly prevailed upon Trump twice to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. The Jerusalem Post explained:

Washington was briefly abuzz on the afternoon of July 17 when rumors began to circulate that President Trump was eager to declare that Iran was in breach of the conditions laid out in the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).

Those receptive antennas were further heightened given the previous signals sent. After all, the State Department already released talking points to reporters on the decision to recertify Iran. The Treasury Department also had a package of fresh sanctions on over a dozen Iranian individuals and entities ready to announce to appease the hawks who were eager to cut loose from the deal.

But Trump didn’t want to recertify Iran, nor did he want to the last time around in April. That evening, a longtime Middle East analyst close to senior White House officials involved in the discussions described the scene to me: “Tillerson essentially told the president, ‘we just aren’t ready with our allies to decertify.’ The president retorted, ‘Isn’t it your job to get our allies ready?’ to which Tillerson said, ‘Sorry sir, we’re just not ready.'” According to this source, Secretary Tillerson pulled the same maneuver when it came to recertification in April by waiting until the last minute before finally admitting the State Department wasn’t ready. On both occasions he simply offered something to the effect of, “We’ll get ’em next time.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone InstituteFollow Soeren Kern on Twitter and Facebook

Also see:

When will Congress finally debate our strategy in Middle East?

Whitney Hunter mourns the loss of her husband. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter was killed in Afghanistan during an attack on a NATO convoy. | Chris Bergin | AP Images

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, Sept. 14, 2017:

The only thing worse than not having a strategy in the Middle East is sending our troops into harm’s way indefinitely without a strategy or even an understanding of who we are fighting and who we are supporting. The lack of concrete guidance from Congress has allowed the war on terror to drift and self-immolate.

Over the past few decades, our foreign policy has operated much like our domestic policy — it has been an utter failure. Much like domestic government programs, our foreign policy is completely backward and harms our national interests, but we continue to perpetuate the same policies because of the incumbent powers and special interests in charge.

Moreover, we are called upon to further bail out and treat the endless symptoms of those policies, rather than reviewing the source of the problem. Much like federal intervention in housing, education, and health care, our nation-building in Baghdad and Kabul have become too big to fail, even though the region has changed completely since the original mission.

It is in this vein that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill (NDAA), in order to inject a much-needed debate over our involvement in the Middle East after 15-16 years of failure. Sen Paul’s amendment would sunset the twin authorizations of military force (AUMF) Congress originally granted the president for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The amendment was defeated 61-36.

Some conservatives might not want to carte blanche remove reauthorization without proposing a new one refocusing our military’s priorities. However, even those who opposed Rand’s tactic or are concerned that he might not be tough enough on the true threats of Iran and North Korea, must agree that the time has come to update the AUMF and finally force a national debate on what we are doing in the Middle East.

The world has changed immensely over the past 15 years — Iraq and Afghanistan in particular

Let’s put the original debate over our investment in those two theaters on the shelf for a moment. The authorization of military force in those two countries was clear: kicking out the Taliban in Afghanistan and removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Fifteen years later, we have a muddled mess in Afghanistan and a complete opposite dynamic in Iraq than the one that originally involved our military.

While the 2001 AUMF also tasked the president with destroying the terrorists behind 9/11, between regime changes, changes in terrorist organizations, and multiple civil wars between various groups (all enemies to the U.S. but not all posing equal strategic threats) the entire geo-political structure has changed so much. The time has come to properly articulate on paper what and who we are fighting or supporting, as well as a strategy to place our interests first.

The notion that a 15-year-old AUMF for the removal of Saddam would now suddenly authorize the endless use of the military to prop up an Iranian-puppet government in Baghdad is unconscionable. The Pentagon has no understanding of who we are fighting for, who we are fighting against, how the ground will be held, and why it is in our interests (and not harming our interests).

Afghanistan is no better. Trump recently announced a mini troop surge, but as we noted at the time there is still no clear strategy as to how we put the country together after 16 years of failure with just 4,000 more troops (when 150,000 coalition troops and others have failed for 1,300 years).

If anyone has answers to these questions, now is the time to air them out through a national debate. We have spent several trillion dollars in those two countries only to hand over the Middle East to Iran and waste our time in the mud huts of the Hindu Kush while Iran, Turkey, and Qatar pose greater threats and North Korea can hit U.S. soil with nukes. This debate must not be off limits.

Also of importance is the fact we stand at a crossroads in both theaters. The Taliban controls more territory than ever and the Afghani government is more corrupt (and Islamist) than ever. Ironically, they are already negotiating with the Taliban.

This is no longer about 9/11, and while technically any fight against the Taliban is covered by the 2001 AUMF, shouldn’t Congress have a new debate with so many changes on the ground?

In Iraq, we are now at the point where ISIS (which, for argument’s sake, let’s say is covered by the AUMF against terrorism) is on its last legs. And almost all of the territory vacated by them has been handed over to Iranian proxies on the tab of our military.

So yes, we are following the 2001 AUMF to fight terrorists, but doing so is arguably only benefitting the bigger threat — Iranian hegemony and Hezbollah (which has a vastly greater network in the Western Hemisphere than any other jihadist organization). Iran was certainly more behind 9/11 than Saddam Hussein and also harbored terrorists.

Mattis and McMaster have prevented our soldiers from fighting Iranian proxies and downright view them as allies in the theater, just like Obama did. Thus, we are now fighting in Iraq on behalf of a government that should be an enemy under the first AUMF, in order to fight a new enemy that is on the decline and not included in the 2002 AUMF.

Furthermore, the Kurds may very soon declare independence, but our government is declining to support the only ally in Iraq and is kowtowing to the Iranian puppets in Baghdad. Are we going to continue supporting the Iranian-backed government that is not only an enemy of the U.S. in its own right but whose hegemony over Sunni areas will continue fueling Sunni insurgencies that we will continue refereeing with our military?

Shouldn’t we just support the Kurds and allow them to take as much land as possible while leaving our military out of the Iranian-Sunni fight? I have my views on this issue, but we at least need a robust debate to air out these concerns as we stand at a critical crossroads.

The founders had great wisdom in vesting war powers with Congress

This is not about tying the hands of the commander in chief, this is about empowering him with clarity of mission and the united resolve of the people.

Our founders vested the power to declare war in the hands of the legislature, not only to preempt an imperial presidency but as part of the social contract of consent-based governance — that such an important decision should have the buy-in of the people as expressed through their elected representatives.

In the words of James Madison, they wanted “strict adherence” to the “fundamental doctrine” that the power of “judging the causes of war” (not the actual execution) be “fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”

A declaration of war, or at least the crafting of an AUMF, allows the entire representative body of the people to raise the important questions about all aspects and strategy of the mission. If Congress votes to pass a resolution, it serves as a definitive guide for what success looks like. This further serves the purpose of rallying the country behind a defined mission, because public support is always needed to achieve such victory.

Yet, we are stuck with a dynamic — much like with failed domestic programs — where the rent-seekers in government and failed military leadership are perpetuating the failing and rudderless status quo.

Clearly, the president himself doesn’t feel comfortable with what we are doing in the Middle East, but nonetheless feels compelled to simply “stay the course” because of the endless threats and arguments regarding “destabilization.”

The American people are left out in the cold while their representatives, and even the president, aren’t controlling the priorities of our military engagements. This is not consent-based governance. This is why it’s so important for the administration to send Congress a new request updating the AUMF.

Some have criticized Sen. Paul for trying to yank the AUMF without a new replacement. Fine, let’s propose one, but propose one we must. In the meantime, pursuant to the War Powers Act, the president can always act swiftly to respond to an immediate short-term threat.

Does this make me a pacifist? Just the opposite. We have certainly laid out a list of priorities and DOs and DON’Ts that should guide a new AUMF.