As America’s Arab Muslim Allies Move Against the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘Smart Set’ Doubles Down Support

FILE – DECEMBER 25, 2013: The Egyptian interim goverment has declared the Mohammed Morsi led ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ a terrorist organisation. The action was taken in response to the bombing of the police station in Mansoura earlier this week, which the government has stated was the responsibility of the Brotherhood, despite denials from the group itself. CAIRO, EGYPT – DECEMBER 14: Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood chant slogans during a rally on December 14, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt. Opponents and supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi staged final rallies in Cairo ahead of tomorrow’s referendum vote on the country’s draft constitution that was rushed through parliament in an overnight session on November 29. The country’s new draft constitution, passed by a constitutional assembly dominated by Islamists, will go to a referendum vote on December 15. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 23, 2017:

Today Kuwait handed Qatar a list of demands from other Arab countries — many of them American allies — demanding the end of support for terrorist organizations:

One of the cardinal demands is that Qatar stop funding the Muslim Brotherhood, a demand that was made clear when this crisis erupted earlier this month:

Interestingly, in addition to Qatar’s funding of the Muslim Brotherhood efforts to destabilize Arab countries throughout the Middle East, they insured they would not be threatened by dismantling Brotherhood operations in their own country decades ago:

Yet as much of the Arab world moves against the Muslim Brotherhood, including the largest Arab Muslim country in the world (Egypt), the Washington, D.C. think tanks, establishment media, and pro-Brotherhood elements inside the U.S. government are doubling down on their support of the group.

This effort of moving against our Arab allies in support of the Muslim Brotherhood was seen when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a Senate hearing last week that designating the Muslim Brotherhood would be “problematic”:

Immediately, Qatar-funded Al-Jazeera and Middle East Eye — both specifically named in the Arab allies’ demand to Qatar — jumped on Tillerson’s comments:

This is a major reversal from comments he made just a few months ago, including during his Senate confirmation hearing:

This reversal comes just weeks after one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist wings threatened the U.S. Embassy in Cairo:

This is not the first time that the State Department has undermined Trump’s stated support for the Arab allies’ coalition against Qatar:

Of course, entrenched elements within the U.S. government have been working to undermine any efforts by the Trump administration to take action against the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the CIA leaking to media allies a report making the risible claim that designating the group would lead to more extremism:

But as I reported here at PJ Media at the time, going back to the end of the Bush administration the CIA directly funded the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood” narrative:

The U.S. government support for the Muslim Brotherhood took root immediately during the Obama administration with Obama signing Presidential Security Directive (PSD) 11 in 2011 which ordered U.S. government departments and agencies to back the group in the Middle East and North Africa:

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The Former Anchor Who Says Al-Jazeera Aids Terrorists

Mohamed Fahmy in the defendants’ cage during his trial in Egypt. Photographer: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Bloomberg, by Eli Lake, June 23, 2017:

Mohamed Fahmy is the last person one would expect to make the case against al-Jazeera.

In 2014, the former Cairo bureau chief for the Qatar-funded television network began a 438-day sentence in an Egyptian prison on terrorism charges and practicing unlicensed journalism. His incarceration made al-Jazeera a powerful symbol of resistance to Egypt’s military dictatorship.

Today Fahmy is preparing a lawsuit against his former employers. And while he is still highly critical of the regime that imprisoned him, he also says the Egyptian government is correct when it says al-Jazeera is really a propaganda channel for Islamists and an arm of Qatari foreign policy.

“The more the network coordinates and takes directions from the government, the more it becomes a mouthpiece for Qatari intelligence,” he told me in an interview Thursday. “There are many channels who are biased, but this is past bias. Now al-Jazeera is a voice for terrorists.”

Fahmy’s testimony is particularly important now. Al-Jazeera is at the center of a crisis ripping apart the Arab Gulf states. Earlier this month Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a political and diplomatic blockade on Qatar. As part of that blockade, al-Jazeera has been kicked out of those countries.

The treatment of al-Jazeera as an arm of the Qatari state as opposed to a news organization does not sit well with many in the West. This week a New York Times editorial accused Qatar’s foes of “muzzling” a news outlet “that could lead citizens to question their rulers” in the Arab world.

In some ways it’s understandable for English-speaking audiences to take this view. Al-Jazeera’s English-language broadcasts certainly veer politically to the left. At times the channel has sucked up to police states. The channel embarrassed itself with such fluff as a recent sycophantic feature on female traffic cops in North Korea. But al-Jazeera English has also broken some important stories. It worked with Human Rights Watch to uncover documents mapping out the links between Libyan intelligence under Muammar Qaddafi and the British and U.S. governments.

Al-Jazeera’s Arabic broadcasts however have not met these same standards in recent years. To start, the network still airs a weekly talk show from Muslim Brotherhood theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He has used his platform to argue that Islamic law justifies terrorist attacks against Israelis and U.S. soldiers. U.S. military leaders, such as retired Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded forces in the initial campaign to stabilize Iraq, have said publicly that al-Jazeera reporters appeared to have advance knowledge of terrorist attacks. Fahmy told me that in his research he has learned that instructions were given to journalists not to refer to al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra, as a terrorist organization.

He said Qatar’s neighbors were justified in banning al-Jazeera. “Al-Jazeera has breached the true meaning of press freedom that I advocate and respect by sponsoring these voices of terror like Yusuf al Qaradawi,” he said. “If al-Jazeera continues to do that, they are directly responsible for many of these lone wolves, many of these youth that are brain washed.”

Fahmy didn’t always have this opinion of his former employer. He began to change his views while serving time. It started in the “scorpion block” of Egypt’s notorious Tora prison. During his stay, he came to know some of Egypt’s most notorious Islamists.

“When I started meeting and interviewing members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathizers, they specifically told me they had been filming protests and selling it to al-Jazeera and dealing fluidly with the network and production companies in Egypt associated with the network,” he said.

One example of al-Jazeera’s coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood revolves around Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in the summer of 2013, following the military coup that unseated Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president. As part of Fahmy’s case against al-Jazeera, he took testimony from a former security guard for the network and the head of the board of trustees for Egyptian state television. Both testified that members of the Muslim Brotherhood seized the broadcast truck al-Jazeera used to air the sit-ins that summer. In other words, al-Jazeera allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast its own protests.

That incident happened in the weeks before Fahmy was hired to be the network’s Cairo bureau chief. He says he was unaware of these ties to the Muslim Brotherhood until he began doing his own research and reporting from an Egyptian prison.

When Fahmy learned of these arrangements, he became angry. It undermined his case before the Egyptian courts that he was unaffiliated with any political party or terrorist groups inside Egypt. “To me this is a big deal, this is not acceptable,” he said. “It put me in danger because it’s up to me to convince the judge that I was just doing journalism.”

Ultimately Fahmy was released from prison in 2015. But this was not because al-Jazeera’s lawyers made a good case for him. Rather it was the work of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who eventually got him safely out of the country to Canada.

Now Fahmy is turning his attention to al-Jazeera. He is pressing a court in British Columbia to hear his case in January against the network, from whom he is seeking $100 million in damages for breach of contract, misrepresentation and negligence.

Fahmy’s case is one more piece of evidence that the al-Jazeera seen by English-speaking audiences is not the al-Jazeera seen throughout the Muslim world. It’s one more piece of evidence that Qatar’s foreign policy is a double game: It hosts a military base the U.S. uses to fight terror, while funding a media platform for extremists.

Why Trump should endorse allies’ demands upon terror-cozy Qatar

XtockImages | Getty Images

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, June 23, 2017:

The United States should wholeheartedly support Arab states’ attempts to rein in the renegade state of Qatar, as Gulf leaders attempt to cut down on Doha’s out of control terror promoting and jihadi financing policies.

On Thursday, Middle Eastern countries issued a list of 13 demands that need to be met in order to restore relations with Qatar. They have given Qatar 10 days to comply with the ultimatums. The list of demands aligns so well with American nationalist interests that it wouldn’t come as a shock if American officials had a role in drafting the document.

Among the most “America-first” of the 13 mandates include:

1) Dramatically scale down ties with the Iranian regime and expel members of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) from the country.

Iran has long been accused of sowing discord in the Middle East and fanning the flames of war. The regime in Tehran, which considers the United States “The Great Satan,” directly supports terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and has aided attempts to overthrow governments in Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, and elsewhere. The IRGC, which is tasked with exporting Iran’s revolutionary ideology through military force, is heavily involved in the Syrian Civil War, supporting the Assad regime and Russia in committing sectarian war crimes against innocents.

2) Shut down the Turkish military base that is currently under construction in Qatar.

Though a NATO ally, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey continues to trend towards Islamic authoritarianism. In May, bodyguards for the Turkish strongman viciously attacked American citizens protesting outside of the Turkish ambassador’s home in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Turkey supports and aids the global jihadist Muslim Brotherhood network, and U.S.-designated terrorist organizations like Hamas.

3) Eliminate ties for terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and Hamas.

Qatar continues to harbor Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has endorsed suicide operations against American soldiers. Additionally, there is overwhelming evidence that high-ranking members of the Qatari regime have aided and abetted Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria. Even as the U.S. has recently arrested Hezbollah agents charged with plotting terrorist attacks on American soil, the Emir in Doha considers Hezbollah a “legitimate resistance” movement. Though Qatar claims to be fighting ISIS, U.S. counterterror officials continue to claim that they’re a chief funding resource for the caliphatist[RH1] group.

6) Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliates.

Al Jazeera is a state-run media agency in Doha that is masquerading as a free media enterprise. The outfit is currently facing a new lawsuit claiming it collaborated directly with the Muslim Brotherhood during Islamist revolts that resulted in the overthrow of the Egyptian government. In 2013, 22 staff members resigned to protest the network’s bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. The news network’s Arabic channel has had a hand in radicalizing its viewership towards Islamist beliefs. A 2015, an Al Jazeera Arabic poll showed 81 percent of respondents supported the Islamic State terror group. Its short-lived American outlet acted as an Islamic blasphemy police, banning words like “terrorist,” “militant,” “Islamist,” and “jihad” from its reporting. After the 9/11 attacks, Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha was decorated with silhouettes glorifying Osama bin Laden.

Since the Arab states’ blockade against Qatar began, American officials have been all over the place on whether the United States supports or disputes the measures.

President Trump — who gave a speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia just prior to the embargo, urging Middle Eastern countries to do more to quash terrorist financing — appears to be supportive of the Arab initiative, labeling Qatar a “funder of terrorism at a very high level.” The president is also considering hosting a “Camp David-style” summit for Arab leaders to explore how to further crack down on Qatar’s terror finance and other terror supporting Middle East entities.

However, the Pentagon under Secretary James Mattis, and the State Department under Rex Tillerson, have acted instead to empower the Qatari monarchy.

The Pentagon recently signed a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Qatar, allowing for the sale of 36 U.S. F-16 fighter jets.

And this week, Tillerson’s State Department commanded Arab allies to rescind demands of Qatar, and immediately end the embargo. The State Department even called into question the overwhelming evidence that Qatar is a financier of international terrorism, and refused to name Qatar as a state-sponsor of terror.

It would be challenging to find a more pro-American document than the list of dictates being offered up by our Middle East allies. The White house has been presented with a historic opportunity to finally quash the rich oil-regime’s support for the world’s worst actors. Squandering that opportunity — when pressure on Qatar is as high as it will ever be — would result in the loss of a much-needed boost to American security interests and global stability.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

BREAKING: Gulf States Give Qatar List of Demands To Restore Diplomatic Relationships – All Demands Target The Muslim Brotherhood…

 The Last Refuge, by Sundance, June 22, 2017:

The latest development, in the ongoing Arab state GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) initiative to stem the destabilizing behavior of Qatar, is a list of demands presented to Qatar. If you have followed the regional issues for the past few years you’ll quickly identify how each of the demands cuts to the core of the destabilizing issues.

Included in the demands:  ♦Shut down al-Jazeera, ♦stop cooperating with Iran and ♦expel Turkish military provocateurs (Erdogan).  The binding thread that connects each of these demands is the effort to stop Qatar from supporting/assisting the Muslim Brotherhood.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kuwait has given Qatar a list of demands from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations that includes shutting down Al-Jazeera and cutting diplomatic ties to Iran.

That’s according to a list obtained by The Associated Press from one of the countries involved in the dispute. The document says Qatar has 10 days to comply with all demands.

The list says Qatar must immediately close Turkey’s military base in Qatar and end military cooperation with the NATO member. It also demands an unspecified sum of compensation from Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties to Qatar this month over accusations the Persian Gulf country funds terrorism. The U.S. has been urging them to produce a list of demands. Kuwait is helping mediate. (link)

Additionally, a reputable and reliable source for news and information within the region, specifically well-connected to the MB issues, provides the following:

This list of demands could have been personally written by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi because it is exactly what he needed to do when he expelled the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt and restored stability in the aftermath of Mohammed Morsi’s chaos.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Support for Muslim Brotherhood Terror Designation Bill Grows

Muslim Brotherhood supporters rally in Jordan (Photo: JAMAL NASRALLAH/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Meira Svirsky, June 11, 2017:

The Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act now has about 60 members of Congress supporting it. Although support is growing, the number of cosponsors is far less than what it was for the last version of the bill.

Voters must remind members of Congress who supported the previous bill to cosponsor the new bills (HR377 and S68).

Information on who is currently supporting the legislation is at the bottom of this article.

Earlier this year, it was reported that the Trump Administration was about to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Brotherhood and its apologists went into overdrive, launching a tremendous PR campaign to stop it from happening. A Brotherhood official overseas said the group had spent $5 million and was confident of victory.

Due to pushback from the State Department among others, the Trump Administration became divided on the issue and indefinitely delayed its plan to designate the Brotherhood.

National Security Adviser McMaster reportedly opposes designation, as would be expected based on his endorsement of a book friendly to “moderate” Islamists. Secretary of State Tillerson is presumably opposed because his State Department hasn’t designated the group yet, but he did describe the Brotherhood as an “agent of radical Islam.”

Attorney General Sessions and CIA Director Pompeo supported the previous bill when they were in Congress. Also supporting designation are Trump’s chief political strategist, Steve Bannon and Deputy Assistant Sebastian Gorka.

Defense Secretary Mattis’ past comments about the Brotherhood and political Islam indicate he is likely to be supportive. However, his initial choosing of an ally of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for a senior post leaves room for doubt.

It is unclear where Homeland Security Secretary General Kelly stands, but Katie Gorka, a supporter of designation, is an official adviser to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Policy. It is also not known where Director of National Intelligence Coats or Trump’s pick for FBI Director, Christopher Wray, stand.

Even though the White House is currently divided on the issue, but passing the Muslim BrotherhoodTerrorist Designation Act would likely tip the scales.

Momentum for action against the Brotherhood is growing. On May 23, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) said he would introduce a bill to implement sanctions on countries that support branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. The most obvious candidates would be Qatar and Turkey.

The House bill (HR377) has 58 cosponsors and is now with the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. The only current supporter is Vice Chairman Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), one of the original cosponsors of the bill.

However, there are six Republican members of the subcommittee who voted in favor of the previous bill and likely to cosponsor it if they are pushed. These six are Chairman Trey Gowdy (SC); Jim Sensenbrenner (WI); Steve Chabot (OH); Ted Poe (TX); Jason Chaffetz (UT) and John Ratcliffe (TX).

There are six Republicans in the rest of the Judiciary Committee who are currently supporting the act: Lamar Smith (TX); Steve King (IA); Jim Jordan (OH); Blake Farenthold (TX); Ron DeSantis (FL) and Matt Gaetz (FL).

There are five Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who voted in favor of the previous bill and would probably cosponsor this one. These are: Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA); Trent Franks (AZ); Tom Marino (PA); Doug Collins (GA) and Ken Buck (CO).

The Senate bill (S68) has four cosponsors. It is currently stuck in the Foreign Relations Committee, where it only has one cosponsor: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Below is an alphabetical list of cosponsors of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act bills. If your representative hasn’t taken a stand, now is the time to act.

HR377

Abraham, Ralph Lee (R-LA)

Babin, Brian (R-TX)

Barletta, Lou (R-LA)

Benacci, James (R-OH)

Black, Diane (R-TN)

Brat, Dave (R-VA)

Cheney, Liz (R-WY)

Cramer, Kevin (R-ND)

Davidson, Warren (R-OH)

Dent, Charles (R-PA)

DeSantis, Ron (R-FL)

DesJerlais, Scott (R-TN)

Diaz-Balart, Mario (R-FL)

Donovan, Daniel (R-NY)

Duncan, Jeff (R-SC)

Farenthold, Blake (R-TX)

Fleishcmann, Chuck (R-TN)

Frelinghuysen, Rodney (R-NJ)

Gaetz, Matt (R-FL)

Garrett, Thomas (R-VA)

Gohmert, Louie (R-TX)

Gosar, Paul (R-AZ)

Granger, Kay (R-TX)

Grothman, Glenn (R-WI)

Harris, Andy (R-MD)

Hice, Jody (R-GA)

Hudson, Richard (R-NC)

Hunter, Duncan (R-CA)

Johnson, Sam (R-TX)

Jordan, Jim (R-OH)

Kelly, Trent (R-MS)

King, Steve (R-IA)

Lamborn, Doug (R-CO)

Lance, Leonard (R-NJ)

Loudermilk, Barry (R-GA)

Marchant, Kenny (R-TX)

McCaul, Michael (R-TX)

Olson, Pete (R-TX)

Palazzo, Steve (R-MS)

Perry, Scott (R-PA)

Posey, Bill (R-FL)

Rohrabacher, Dana (R-CA)

Rokata, Todd (R-IN)

Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL)

Ross, Dennis (R-FL)

Rouzer, David (R-NC)

Royce, David (R-OH)

Russell, Steve (R-OK)

Rutherford, John (R-FL)

Scott, Austin (R-GA)

Smith, Lamar (R-TX)

Trott, David (R-MI)

Walberg, Tim (R-MI)

Weber, Randy (R-TX)

Wenstrup, Brad (R-OH)

Williams, Roger (R-TX)

Yoder, Kevin (R-KS)

Yoho, Ted (R-FL)

Zeldin, Lee (R-NY)

 

S68

 

Cruz, Ted (R-TX)

Hatch, Orrin (R-UT)

Inhofe, James (R-OK)

Johnson, Ron (R-WI)

Roberts, Pat (R-KS)

Saudi-Qatari Dispute Rising

Front Page Magazine, by Ari Lieberman, June 12, 2017:

The dramatic schism witnessed last week between a significant bloc of Muslim nations led by Saudi Arabia, against the tiny peninsular nation of Qatar, has major regional implications. In addition to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and the Maldives all severed political and commercial ties with Qatar. Jordan and Mauritania followed suit shortly thereafter. The draconian measures severely curtail Doha’s ability to conduct air and maritime travel. In addition, nations that severed relations with Doha no longer recognize the Qatari Rial as a valid currency which means that Doha must deplete its foreign currency reserves if it wishes to purchase goods and services.

The punishing Saudi-led initiative, though dramatic, was hardly surprising. Qatar has long adopted policies that were incongruent with the Gulf Cooperation Council’s goals. Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states did not look favorably on Qatar’s rapprochement efforts with menacing Shia Iran and neo-Ottoman, meddlesome Turkey. But most irksome for the Sunni states was Qatar’s cynical use of its propaganda media arm, Al Jazeera, to shill for the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.

The issue of Hamas was another sore point where interests between the opposing sides diverged. Qatar is Hamas’ main benefactor. In 2014, it pledged $1b toward reconstruction efforts in Gaza. But much of Qatar’s aid money is skimmed off the top by notoriously corrupt Hamas officials, who maintain rather luxurious lifestyles. Some of the aid money is channeled into military projects, like construction of terror tunnels, rather than legitimate civilian purposes.

Hamas is recognized by the United States and EU as a terrorist organization. During his recent trip to the region, President Trump in an address to several Muslim heads of state lumped Hamas with other recognized terror groups like Hezbollah, ISIS and Al Qaida. The group is a recognized offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, placing it at odds with several moderate Sunni nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Last Tuesday, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, explicitly stated that Qatar must stop supporting terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Riyadh and its allies see both groups as destabilizing entities and have repeatedly criticized Doha for paying lip service to the war on terror while at the same time, providing financial, political and logistical support for terrorist organizations.

The Saudi-led effort represents a concerted attempt to squeeze Qatar into making concessions. Undoubtedly, that includes Qatar adopting policies that are more in line with the goals of GCC, namely to thwart Iranian influence and curtail the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The pressure brought to bear by the Saudi initiative is already producing positive results. Qatar has asked several Hamas leaders-in-exile and operatives currently stationed in the country to leave. Hamas has tried to downplay the implications of the Qatari expulsion orders but it’s hard to overlook the ramifications.

But Doha is nevertheless sending out mixed signals.  On Saturday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, characterized Hamas as “a legitimate resistance movement.” He also said that as an independent country, Qatar had the right to support groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Over the years, Hamas’ allies have whittled down to three, Turkey, Iran and Qatar. Of the three, Qatar provides the terror group with the most financial support. It was hoped that Israel’s recent rapprochement with Turkey would translate into concrete efforts by Ankara to scale back its support for the terror group but this has not materialized. Iran, which remains the world’s premier state-sponsor of terror, continues to funnel money to Hamas despite a brief falling out.

The current economic situation in the Gaza Strip is abysmal. This is largely due to mismanagement, graft and rampant corruption by the Islamist governing authorities. There are chronic electricity shortages with four or five hours of reliable electricity supply on a good day. In addition, youth unemployment hovers at an astonishing 60%. A cut-off of Qatari aid would place enormous pressure on Hamas and lead to further economic decline, which could inexorably lead to widespread discontent among the masses within the Strip.

Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist and maintains a zero tolerance policy for even minimal dissent. The few who dare challenge Gaza’s theocratic rulers are beaten, jailed and sometimes executed under the guise of being collaborators with “the occupation.” Nevertheless, with so many unemployed youth, and chronic electricity and water shortages, open challenge or even revolt is a real possibility.

Hamas may seek to stave off that predicament by deflecting attention away from the dire economic situation to its age-old bogeyman, the Israelis or in Hamas vernacular, the “Zionist entity.” It could create a crisis by launching rockets into Israel, thereby drawing an Israeli response which could quickly escalate to full blown war. Gaza’s population would then be spoon-fed Hamas crafted propaganda and Israel would then be blamed for the inevitable destruction and misery that is sure to follow.  Such cynical exploitation of the masses represents a ruthless Hamas tactic calculated solely on the basis maintaining the group’s survival and governing authority. The welfare of the population is of secondary or even tertiary concern.

But the Hamas wag the dog tactic is a double-edged sword. Since it withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Israel was forced to battle Hamas on three occasions – 2008/9, 2012 and 2014. On each occasion, Hamas drew the short end of the stick and was decimated militarily. Nevertheless, during the 2014 campaign, Israel came under immense political pressure from the Obama administration to cease hostilities.

Obama held up a shipment of Hellfire missiles slated to be delivered to Israel and his Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) briefly ordered the suspension of commercial flights to Ben Gurion airport. Many suspected that the FAA action was implemented under orders from Obama as a pressure tactic against Israel to induce it into accepting a ceasefire. In addition, during the course of the conflict, a disturbing transcript of an exchange between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu surfaced in which the American president browbeat Netanyahu over his reluctance to accept a ceasefire, brokered by hostile Turkey and Qatar, under less than desirable terms. His secretary of state, John Kerry, was picked up on hot mic blasting Israel with sarcastic references to Israel’s “helluva pinpoint operation.”

In sum, Obama’s fiercely hostile attitude toward Israel and his attempts to hamper Israel’s war efforts provided Hamas with some measure of political cover, and prevented an even more severe mauling than already inflicted on the terror group. But there is a new sheriff in town, one not inclined toward appeasing Islamists. Should Hamas begin stirring the pot, expect the administration to give Israel a freer hand to do what is necessary to crush Hamas.

Undoubtedly, Hamas is aware of the fact that it no longer has a sympathetic ear in the White House and many of its former Arab allies, including Egypt, have abandoned it. It is also cognizant of the fact that Israel’s military capabilities are unmatched in the Middle East and any provocation will invite devastating retaliation from which it may not recover.

In sum, if Qatar capitulates, Hamas will suffer and may consequently be forced to wag the dog to preserve its survival but the very war that it provokes may spell its demise. The unfolding drama between Doha and Riyadh has placed Hamas in a bit of a pickle and it’s safe to assume that its leaders are not sleeping well these days.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.

Also see:

As Gulf states cut ties with Qatar, Trump team debates Muslim Brotherhood terror designation

Fox News, by Christopher Wallace, June 5, 2017:

There’s a battle inside the Trump administration over what to do about the Muslim Brotherhood, the group at the center of Monday’s pivotal decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to cut ties with Qatar over allegations it supports terrorism, experts familiar with the situation say.

The debate reaches deep inside Washington politics, where Qatar has poured money in recent years, deepening a rift in American policy circles over what to do about the Muslim Brotherhood. The immensely influential group has long been considered a supporter of terrorism by several key American allies including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The camps inside the White House, according to sources, break down to two groups: On one side is a political group led by Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and the other side is led by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Generals McMaster and Mattis are said to be concerned about America’s deep military commitment to Qatar, where the U.S. operates a key airbase; Bannon is said to want to push for an official designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

When asked if the U.S. is considering changing its position, a State Department official told Fox News: “The Muslim Brotherhood is not a Foreign Terrorist Organization.”

The sources say there was a high-level White House meeting between the two factions about two months ago, and the Bannon team gave way amid significant pushback. And it wasn’t just from the national security team.

“The real pushback was in the public. Several dozen analysts writing pieces online how this would destroy our diplomatic relations and diminish American influence around the world,” said Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, “they argued it would look Islamophobic.”

For example, the prestigious Brookings Institute, which considers itself non-partisan, said “there is not a single American expert on the Muslim Brotherhood who supports designating them as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.”

Shadi Hamid, a Brookings Senior Fellow, wrote on the Institute’s website that most Islamists belong to “mainstream Muslim groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Hamas denies Qatar to expel leaders, but says some to move

“Mainstream Islamist groups accept the nation-state and work within the structures of the nation-state,” he wrote. “These groups are not stoking revolution or orchestrating terrorist attacks.”

Experts who have had close ties to Bannon worry that such analysis is getting through to the president.

“There is now a real danger that President Donald Trump, who came to office promising a very different approach to the whole phenomenon of what he called radical Islamic terrorism at the time, and is now calling Islamist extremism, is being subjected to some of the same seduction that the Brothers were able to engage in during past presidents,” said Frank Gaffney of the right-leaning Center for Security Policy.

Gaffney argued that such influence is suspect because Brookings, like some other big Washington think-tanks, has taken millions in funding from Qatar, the country accused of supporting terrorism by many of its neighbors. Qatar gave Brookings a $14.8 million, four-year donation in 2013, and has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world.

“I think at best they are useful idiots when it comes to what the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to do,” Gaffney told Fox News, “at worst they are absolutely on board with it.”

Schanzer could not speak specifically about Brookings, but “what I can say is that Qatar spends a lot of money to make sure their perspective is heard in Washington.”

He says that’s problematic “because at the very least certain aspects of the discussion are being omitted because of a patron-client relationship.”

Those aspects of the discussion involve a growing belief among prominent former officials that at least some factions of the Brotherhood deserve greater scrutiny than the U.S. has subjected the group to in recent years.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served six presidents, including President Obama, recently told Fox News that the terrorist group Hamas is a direct offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is generally regarded as the ideological forerunner of both al-Qaeda and ISIS,” Gates said. “It seems to me, by and large, if it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck, maybe it’s a duck.”

Gaffney goes even further, “I think what we’re dealing with is not terrorism anymore. What the Brits are facing is an actual Islamic insurgency.”

But the Brotherhood is not a “homogeneous” organization, said Schanzer.

“The Brotherhood in Tunisia is a political, non-violent organization and the Prime Minister of Morocco is in a Muslim Brotherhood arm,” he said, “On the other hand you’ve got two violent factions in Egypt and the Brotherhood in Yemen has long standing ties to Al Qaeda. These are the kinds of differences that a treasury designation process could highlight.”

That’s why Gates cautions the Trump administration to get more information before an official declaration of the Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

“I’m not sure we’ve investigated potential financial channeling from using Muslim Brotherhood resources and their networks to channel money to terrorist groups,” Gates said, “And I think if that’s not already being done, that’s a potential lucrative intelligence target.”

Schanzer agrees. He told Fox News there is a possible compromise solution.

“Task Treasury to research the various factions of the Brotherhood to determine which are supporting terrorism,” he said, “let the intelligence do the talking, and potentially lower the political temperature.”

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