Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Global Affiliates: New U.S. Administration Considers New Policies

Foundation for Defense of Democracies, May 23, 2017:

  • Clifford D. May, Founder and President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense (2006-2011)
  • Moderator: Jenna Lee, Anchor at Fox News Channel

Video | Transcript | Photos 

The Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, and the Tools Congress Can Use to Combat Illicit Activities

  • Rep. Ed Royce (R), Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Moderator: Mark Dubowitz, CEO, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Video | Transcript | Photos

The Muslim Brotherhood: Examining the Sum of its Parts

  • Mokhtar Awad, Research Fellow in the Program on Extremism, The George Washington University
  • Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Samuel Tadros, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom
  • Eric Trager, Esther K. Wagner Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Moderator: Tom Gjelten, Correspondent, NPR News

Video | Transcript | Photos

The U.S.-Qatar Relationship: Risks and Rewards

  • Husain Haqqani, former Ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S. and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute
  • Mary Beth Long, Nonresident Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Jake Sullivan, former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden
  • David Andrew Weinberg, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Moderator: Jenna Lee, Anchor at Fox News Channel

Video | Transcript | Photos

Closing Remarks

  • Introductions by Jonathan Ruhe, Associate Director at Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA)
  • General Charles Wald, former Deputy Commander of United States European Command
  • John Hannah, Senior Counselor, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Video | Transcript | Photos

Co-hosted by the Hudson Institute and The George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security

Mokhtar Awad is a research fellow in the Program on Extremism at The George Washington University. He specializes in Islamist and Salafist groups in the Middle East region and regional politics, with a special focus on emerging violent extremist organizations and their ideas. Prior to joining the Program on Extremism, Mr. Awad worked as a research associate at the Center for American Progress and as a junior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His writings have appeared in The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, CTC Sentinel, and Hudson’s Current Trends in Islamist Ideology.  He regularly provides commentary to news networks including Al-Hurra, Al-Arabiya, and Al-Jazeera. Print media quotations have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, among others. Mr. Awad has provided expert testimony to the U.S. Congress and UK Parliament.

Robert Gates served as the 22nd secretary of defense (2006-2011). On Secretary Gates’ last day in office, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, the White House, serving four presidents of both political parties. Dr. Gates served as director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. He is the only career officer in CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director. Dr. Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has three times received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA’s highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

Tom Gjelten covers issues of religion, faith, and belief for NPR News, a beat that encompasses such areas as the changing religious landscape in America, the formation of personal identity, the role of religion in politics, and social and cultural conflict arising from religious differences. His reporting draws on his many years covering national and international news from posts in Washington and around the world. In 1986, Mr. Gjelten became one of NPR‘s pioneer foreign correspondents, posted first in Latin America and then in Central Europe. He covered the wars in Central America, social and political strife in South America, the first Gulf War, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the transitions to democracy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. After returning from his overseas assignments, Mr. Gjelten covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs, first from the State Department and then from the Pentagon. He was reporting live from the Pentagon at the moment it was hit on September 11, 2001, and he was NPR‘s lead Pentagon reporter during the early war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq.

John Hannah is Senior Counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he brings two decades of experience at the highest levels of U.S. foreign policy. During the first term of President George W. Bush, he was Vice President Dick Cheney’s deputy national security advisor for the Middle East, where he was intimately involved in U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the peace process, and the global war on terrorism. In President Bush’s second term, Mr. Hannah was elevated to the role of the vice president’s national security advisor. In his previous government service, Mr. Hannah worked as a senior advisor to Secretary of State Warren Christopher during the Bill Clinton administration and as a senior member of Secretary of State James Baker’s Policy Planning Staff during the presidency of George H. W. Bush. Outside of government, Mr. Hannah has served as deputy director and senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has also practiced law, specializing in international dispute resolution.

Amb. Husain Haqqani is senior fellow and director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute. Amb. Haqqani served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States from 2008-2011 and is widely credited with managing a difficult partnership during a critical phase in the global war on terrorism. His distinguished career in government includes serving as an advisor to four Pakistani Prime ministers. He also served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka in 1992-93. Considered an expert on radical Islamist movements, Amb. Haqqani, along with Hillel Fradkin and Eric Brown, is co-editor of Hudson’s signature journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. Amb. Haqqani was formerly Director of the Center of International Relations, and a Professor of the Practice of International Relations at Boston University. His specializations include: Diplomacy, Muslim Political Movements, International Journalism, Intercultural Relations, South Asia, Central Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle-East, and U.S.-Pakistan Relations.

Jenna Lee currently serves as a New York-based anchor on Fox News Channel’s (FNC) Happening Now, alongside Jon Scott. Ms. Lee joined the network in 2007 as a reporter for the Fox Business Network (FBN) and transitioned to FNC in 2010. At FNC, she has provided live coverage of the violent protests in Cairo, Egypt following the removal of President Mohamed Morsi, and has contributed to coverage of major stories, including the Boston Marathon bombing and the death of Osama bin Laden. During her tenure at FBN, Ms. Lee co-hosted both Fox Business Morning and FoxBusiness.com Live Morning Edition. Additionally, she served as anchor for the FBN simulcast of Imus in the Morning while also providing business news updates throughout the day for both FBN and FNC.

Hon. Mary Beth Long is co-founder and principal of Global Alliance Advisors and founder of M B Long & Associates, PLLC, an international legal and advisory firm. She is also currently a nonresident senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. From 2007-2009, Ms. Long served as the first woman confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as Chair of NATO’s High Level Group, responsible for NATO’s nuclear policy. In her defense department roles, she also acted as Principal Deputy Secretary of Defense on the Middle East, Africa, the Western Hemisphere, Asia, and Southeast Asia; and was the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Counter Narcoterrorism with a budget of over $1 billion. To those credentials, she adds more than a decade of Central Intelligence Agency operational experience (1986–99) on terrorism and other security issues.

Michael Makovsky is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). A U.S. national security expert, he has worked extensively on Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East, and the intersection of international energy markets and politics with U.S. national security. In 2006-2013, Dr. Makovsky was the Foreign Policy Director for the Bipartisan Policy Center. In 2002-6, he served as special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Previously, Dr. Makovsky worked as a senior energy market analyst for various investment firms. He is author of Churchill’s Promised Land (Yale University Press), a diplomatic-intellectual history of Winston Churchill’s complex relationship with Zionism. Makovsky has a Ph.D. in diplomatic history from Harvard University, an MBA in finance from Columbia Business School, and a B.A. in history from the University of Chicago.

Clifford D. May is the Founder and President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In August 2016, he was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He has had a long and distinguished career in international relations, journalism, communications and politics. A veteran foreign correspondent and editor (at The New York Times and other publications), he has covered stories around the world, including from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey, Sudan, Ethiopia, China, Northern Ireland, Nigeria, Mexico and Russia.

U.S. Representative Ed Royce serves California’s 39th Congressional District. For the 115th Congress, Rep. Royce serves as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a position he has held since January 2013. He is one of our nation’s premier representatives to foreign governments around the world, and is a strong advocate of a foreign policy that keeps the American homeland safe. Immediately prior to becoming Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Royce served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and a member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. As a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, he sits on two Subcommittees: Housing and Insurance, and Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

Jonathan Schanzer is Senior Vice President at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Dr. Schanzer is part of the leadership team of FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, which provides policy and subject matter expertise on the use of financial and economic power to the global policy community. Previously, Dr. Schanzer worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he played an integral role in the designation of numerous terrorist financiers. A former research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dr. Schanzer has studied Middle East history in four countries. He has testified before Congress and publishes widely in the American and international media.

Jake Sullivan is a Martin R. Flug Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. He served in the Obama administration as national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State, as well as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He was the Senior Policy Adviser on Secretary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.  Previously, he served as deputy policy director on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary campaign, and a member of the debate preparation team for Barack Obama’s general election campaign. Mr. Sullivan also previously served as a senior policy adviser and chief counsel to Senator Amy Klobuchar from his home state of Minnesota, worked as an associate for Faegre & Benson LLP, and taught at the University of St. Thomas Law School. He clerked for Judge Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States and Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Samuel Tadros is a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. At Hudson, he is researching the rise of Islamist movements in the Middle East and its implications on religious freedom and regional politics. Prior to joining Hudson in 2011, Mr. Tadros was a Senior Partner at the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth, an organization that aims to spread the ideas of classical liberalism in Egypt. Mr. Tadros has previously interned at the American Enterprise Institute, where he worked on the Muslim Brotherhood and worked as a consultant for the Hudson Institute on Moderate Islamic Thinkers, and most recently the Heritage Foundation on Religious Freedom in Egypt. In 2007 he was chosen by the State Department in its first Leaders for Democracy Fellowship Program in collaboration with Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.

Eric Trager, the Esther K. Wagner Fellow at The Washington Institute, is an expert on Egyptian politics and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He was in Egypt during the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolts and returns frequently to conduct firsthand interviews with leaders in Egypt’s government, military, political parties, media, and civil society. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, and the New Republic. Mr. Trager is the author of Arab Fall: How the Muslim Brotherhood Won and Lost Egypt in 891 Days (Georgetown University Press, 2016) which chronicles the precipitous rise to power of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, culminating in the election of President Mohamed Morsi in 2012, and its sudden demise just a year later. The book also assesses the current state of Egyptian politics and the prospects for a reemergence of the Brotherhood.

General Charles F. Wald is the former Deputy Commander of United States European Command, responsible for all U.S. forces operating across 91 countries in Europe, Africa, Russia, parts of Asia and the Middle East, and most of the Atlantic Ocean. He also served as Commander, 9th Air Force and U.S. Central Command Air Forces, Chief of the United States Air Force Combat Terrorism Center, support group commander, operations group commander, and special assistant to the Chief of Staff for National Defense Review. He was also the Director of Strategic Planning and Policy at Headquarters United States Air Force, and served on the Joint Staff as the Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy. Prior to retiring as a command pilot, Gen. Wald logged more than 3,600 flying hours, including more than 430 combat hours over Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq and Bosnia. He is currently Distinguished Fellow at JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy.

Dr. David Andrew Weinberg is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he covers the six Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman). His research in this area focuses particularly on energy, terrorist finance, regional security, and human rights. A large part of his research also pertains to the Gulf states’ foreign policies toward such flashpoints as Syria and Iraq. Dr. Weinberg previously served as a Democratic Professional Staff Member at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he advised the chairman on Middle Eastern politics and U.S. policy toward the region. He also provided research support to staff at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff during the George W. Bush administration. Before coming to FDD, Dr. Weinberg was a Visiting Fellow at UCLA’s Center for Middle East Development.

Also see:

Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad documents that were seized by US forces during the attack on his residence in Pakistan, revealed Qatar’s relations with al-Qaeda. (AP)

  • What Bin Laden documents reveal about his relations with Qatar – The US administration has decided to speak out about Qatar’s relations with terrorism in the Middle East as the White House’s new administration tries to calm the situation and control the growing terrorism on the international level.

    During his visit to the Middle East, US Defense Secretary James Mattis, warned Qatari officials about their country’s continued support to the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic movements that are linked to extremist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.

    Qatar has been accused, more than once, of financing terrorist groups or turning a blind eye to the Qatari financiers such as Salim Hassan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari, who works at the Qatari Interior Ministry. He is accused of “transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda through a terrorist network”. Kuwari was part of the US list of persons who are accused of officially financing terrorism in 2011.

  • Egypt Bans 21 Websites for ‘Supporting Terrorism and Publishing Lies’ – Among the sites blocked was the main website of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, which has also been blocked by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

House Panel Expert: U.S. ‘Losing in Afghanistan’ as Al-Qaeda Grows Stronger

Reuters

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, April 27, 2017:

WASHINGTON D.C. — Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is growing stronger with the resurgence of the Taliban in recent years and “remains a direct threat” to America more than a decade and a half after the United States began targeting both terrorist groups in response to 9/11, an expert tells House lawmakers.

In October 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan, and the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda has been raging since.

President Donald Trump inherited chaos and overall deteriorating security conditions in the war-devastated country.

Under former President Barack Obama’s watch, the Taliban seized more territory in Afghanistan than during any time since the U.S. military removed the jihadist group from power in 2001 and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) gained a foothold in the country.

The U.S. military “downplayed this problem of the Taliban” during Obama’s tenure, Bill Roggio, an expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and editor of the Long War Journal, told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism.

“If that’s the attitude of the U.S. military towards the Taliban inside Afghanistan, we will continue to lose this war,” he later added. “We need to reassess Afghanistan… our policy in Afghanistan is a mess frankly, and the Trump administration needs to decide what to do and how to do it quickly.”

“The Taliban—al-Qaeda relationship remains strong to this day. And with the Taliban gaining control of a significant percentage of Afghanistan’s territory, al-Qaeda has more areas to plant its flag,” also said Roggio in his written testimony.

Last Friday, the Taliban carried out its deadliest-ever attack on a major military base in northern Balkh province that left as many as 250 soldiers dead.

Although the U.S. military argues the Afghan conflict is at a “stalemate,” Roggio told the House panel that America is losing the war.

“We are losing in Afghanistan… and The Taliban controls or contests at least half of Afghanistan,” Roggio told lawmakers, adding in his written testimony:

Al-Qaeda’s footprint inside Afghanistan remains a direct threat to U.S. national security and, with the resurgence of the Taliban, it is a threat that is only growing stronger. Al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has not occurred in a vacuum. It has maintained its strength in the country since the U.S. invasion, launched a new branch, AQIS [al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent], and established training camps with the help and support of the Taliban.

Roggio testified alongside Dr. Seth Jones from the RAND Corporation and Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown from the Brookings Institution.

Echoing the U.S. military, the experts told lawmakers that Russia and Afghanistan’s neighbor Iran are providing military assistance to the Taliban, adding that neighboring Pakistan provides sanctuary to the terrorist group as well as its al-Qaeda and Haqqani Network allies.

According to the Pentagon, the Haqqani Network poses the “primary threat” to the American military in Afghanistan.

The experts noted that a U.S. military withdrawal from the war-devastated country would spell trouble for America’s national security.

The United States has already invested nearly $120 billion in nation-building efforts in the country.

Despite the threat posed by the Afghan Taliban, the group is not officially listed as a terrorist group by the United States like its ally al-Qaeda and its rival ISIS.

Roggio pointed out that although ISIS’s presence in Afghanistan is a problem, the Taliban remains a bigger threat.

ISIS is considered an enemy by both the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, considered the strongest group in the country.

“The reason the Taliban matters is the Taliban and al-Qaeda, they remain tied at the hip,” testified Roggio. “The Taliban refuse to surrender al-Qaeda members — Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. They continued to fight side by side. Al-Qaeda serves as a force multiplier.”

“The Islamic State is on the fringe. It’s a small problem in Afghanistan compared to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Pakistani jihadist groups that operate there (in ISIS’ Afghan stronghold Nangarhar province),” he added. They operate primarily in four districts in Nangarhar province and have a minimal presence in the north, and it certainly is a problem.

This week, ISIS in Nangarhar killed two U.S. troops and wounded another, the Pentagon revealed.

“Our efforts seemed to be focused on the Islamic State at this point in time while largely ignoring what the Taliban is doing throughout the country and that is directly challenging the Afghan military. They’re going toe to toe; They’re raiding their bases; They’re taking control of territory,” said Roggio.

***

Also see:

Is Kurdistan Rising?

The State of the Kurds  WSJ 6-20-15

NER, by Jerry Gordon, June 21, 2015:

In the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition, June 20-21, 2015, Yaroslav Trofimov writes of the possible rise of an independent Kurdistan, “The State of The Kurds”.  An independent Kurdistan was promised by the WWI Allies in the Treaty of Sevres that ended the Ottoman Empire in 1920. That commitment was dashed by the rise of Turkish Republic under the secularist Kemal Atatürk confirmed in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne denying an independent Kurdistan in what is now Eastern Turkey. Combined a future Kurdistan encompassing eastern Turkey, Northern Syria, northwest Iran and northern Iraq might comprise a landlocked republic of 30 million with significant energy and agricultural resources.  The rise of Kurdistan is reflected in these comments in the Trofimov WSJ review article:

Selahattin Demirtas, Chairman of the HDP party in Turkey:

The Kurds’ existence was not recognized; they were hidden behind a veil. But now, after being invisible for a century, they are taking their place on the international stage. Today, international powers can no longer resolve any issue in the Middle East without taking into account the interests of the Kurds.

Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and chairman of the bar in Diyarbakir, Turkey:

In the past, when the Kurds sought self-rule, the Turks, the Persians and the Arabs were all united against it. Today that’s not true anymore—it’s not possible for the Shiite government in Iraq and Shiite Iran to work together against the Kurds with the Sunni Turkey and the Sunni ISIS. In this environment, the Kurds have become a political and a military power in the Middle East.

Elçi, amplifies a concern that Sherkoh Abbas, leader of the Kurdish National Syria Assembly (KURDNAS) has expressed in several NER interviews an articles with him:

The PKK has made important steps to adopt more democratic ways. But you cannot find the same climate of political diversity in [Kurdish] Syria as you find in [northern Iraq], and this is because of PKK’s authoritarian and Marxist background. This is a big problem.

As effective as the KRG government and peshmerga have been in pushing back at ISIS forces threatening the capital of Erbil, the real problem is the divisiveness in the political leadership. That is reflected in the comment of  Erbil province’s governor, Nawaf Hadi cited by Trofimov:

For 80 years, the Arab Sunni people led Iraq—and they destroyed Kurdistan. Now we’ve been for 10 years with the Shiite people [dominant in Baghdad], and they’ve cut the funding and the salaries—how can we count on them as our partner in Iraq?” All the facts on the ground encourage the Kurds to be independent.

That renewed prospect reflects the constellation of  events in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

Read more

Also see:

Rouhani Trumpets P5+1 deal; while Senate Dems Back off New Sanctions Legislation

nuclear iran logo(3)By Jerry Gordon:

As if on cue, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani trumpets how the Islamic Regime won big time with the announced Joint Plan of Action (JPA) implementation last Sunday in Geneva.  As The Guardian noted in a report, “Iran nuclear deal means ‘surrender’ for Western Powers, says Rouhani”:

Speaking on Tuesday in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, Rouhani said the “Geneva deal means the surrender of big powers before the great nation of Iran”.

Perhaps one of those victories is the ability of the Islamic regime to pursue what we would call the “nth” development of new, more efficient centrifuges to enrich uranium. Enrichment for only one purpose, to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.  The Obama White House  confirmed that Iran has been allowed to pursue ‘centrifuge research’.     TheWashington Free Beacon noted this White House news conference call exchange in an article,” Iran permitted to continue advanced nuclear research”:

Asked by a reporter on a conference call if the deal stops “Iran from designing new types of centrifuges,” a senior administration official admitted that the deal does not prohibit this activity.

[…]

“So what’s the practical effect of this R&D [research and development] clarification that you labored over so hard? What does it preclude them from doing?” the reporter asked.

It—I mean, their commitment is to continue their current enrichment R&D practices, and those are the practices that are laid out in the November [IAEA} Director General’s report,” said one of two senior administration officials on the press briefing. “This—that’s been documented, and that’s what they were—that’s what they will continue to do.”

As we had reported  in an Iconoclast post on possible veto-proof  bi-partisan Iran sanctions  legislation in the US Senate (S1881) that  the centrifuge research issue had allegedly hit a snag.

Now in the wake of Rouhani’s speech yesterday in Iran comes word that the White House is soft peddling the Iranian President’s trumpeting of this alleged “victory”.    An AFP article,“White House plays down Rouhani crowing on Nuclear Deal” notes these comments by White House spokesperson Jay Carney at yesterday’s press conference:

It is not surprising to us and nor should it be surprising to you that the Iranians are describing the agreement in a certain way towards their domestic audience. It does not matter what they say, it matters what they do.

Problem is it could  thwart the Obama Administration’s campaign to stifle new bi-partisan sanctions legislation , the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act (NWFIA), S1881.

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

Yesterday, an Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) conference call on Iran’s intentions over its nuclear program   featured former Israeli Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger and Dr. Michael Ledeen of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.  Dr. Ledeen is an impassioned advocate for both sanctions and support for regime change via what he argues could be a significant Iranian opposition.  Amb. Ettinger suggested that perhaps something more is required, when he commented:

Only one option to avoid facing an Iran which could become an uncontrollable strategic apocalyptic threat. That option is surgical, devastating, disproportional military preemption against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

 

 

Read more at New English Review

 

Expert Testimony: Global al-Qaeda, Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges

map-2-al-qaedaSubcommittee Hearing: Global al-Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges:  (Jul 18, 2013)

Witnesses

Seth Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Director
International Security and Defense Policy Center
RAND Corporation
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Frederick W. Kagan, Ph.D.
Christopher DeMuth Chair and Director
Critical Threats Project
American Enterprise Institute
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Mr. Thomas Joscelyn
Senior Editor
The Long War Journal
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Thomas Hegghammer, Ph.D.
Zuckerman Fellow
Center for International Security and Cooperation
Stanford University
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Also see:

AL QAEDA: THE REPORTS OF MY DEATH ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED

Al Qaeda: Not Defeated Yet

Al Qaeda militants in the al-Jazeera region on the Iraqi side of the Syria-Iraq border. / AP

Al Qaeda militants in the al-Jazeera region on the Iraqi side of the Syria-Iraq border. / AP

BY: :

A remote conference between more than 20 senior al Qaeda leaders that prompted temporary closures of several U.S. embassies in the Middle East earlier this month indicates that the terrorist organization remains committed to expansion and threatening the West, national security experts said Tuesday.

Daily Beast senior national security correspondent Eli Lake and Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) senior fellow Thomas Joscelyn said at an FDD panel discussion that al Qaeda has retained central management as its affiliates spring up across the Middle East and Africa.

 

Lake and fellow Daily Beast correspondent Josh Rogin reported Tuesday that the electronic conference between leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branches featured advanced encryption methods with video, voice, and chat capabilities.

In a web recording of the seven-hour meeting, which was seized from an al Qaeda courier captured by U.S. and Yemeni intelligence officials, al Qaeda network leader Ayman Al-Zawahri compared the United States’ regional position in the Middle East to the Soviet Union on the eve of its collapse in 1989.

Additionally, he exhorted participants in the conference to capitalize on America’s declining influence in the region before announcing that Nasser al-Wuhayshi, leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), will be general manager of the group as it implements a new phase in al Qaeda’s war strategy.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly asserted that al Qaeda is “on the way to defeat” after drone strikes killed some of the group’s senior leaders.

“While there have been victories, the threat of al Qaeda is far from over at this point,” Lake said.

Joscelyn said the proliferation of al Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Yemen, Mali, Somalia, and other countries is not something the group “stumbled upon” but “has long been part of their strategy.”

However, the group’s various regional branches have shifted their strategy in recent years to increase their effectiveness, Joscelyn noted. Affiliates like AQAP have adopted the “Hamas model” of providing governance and services to disaffected residents of Yemen.

Meanwhile, AQAP has continued to attempt terrorist attacks on the United States by planting underwear bombers on U.S.-bound airliners.

“They’re able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.

The Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday that thousands of foreign jihadists—including Americans and Europeans—have flooded into civil war-torn Syria to join the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front, raising concerns among U.S. officials that these fighters will receive training for executing terrorist attacks upon return to their home countries.

Additionally, a report from the Long War Journal, a project of FDD, found that at least 15 Salafi jihadist groups—some affiliated with al Qaeda—have begun to occupy the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The groups have reportedly attacked Israeli Defense Forces along Israel’s border and fired rockets into the country.

“It’s indisputable that [al Qaeda has] made more gains now than at any point in their history,” Joscelyn said.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Pro-Islamist Advocacy Campaign Hits the Wall Street Journal

20130818_egypt2013_violence_LARGE

by MAGDI KHALIL:

The Wall Street Journal is a respected newspaper, and many of its writers are reputable researchers. However, a piece titled “Egypt’s Islamists Will Rise Again” has been described by an observer as “a strike coming from a minority of intellectuals on the conservative side who do not understand the Middle East, though they claim they do, and produce more disorientation among the U.S. public than those apologists on the left,” and that “pieces that undermine the will of Egyptians to resist the Islamists and undermine the will of Americans to stand by them are, willingly or not, part of the Muslim Brotherhood effort to reach their strategic goals.”

The opinion piece authored by Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA analyst serving as a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), suffers not only from wrong assumptions, but is also filled with factual mistakes.

Gerecht laments, “Egyptian liberals since the coup d’état against Mohammed Morsi, have an impression that the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘moment’ in Egypt lasted 12 months-after a long prelude that began in the 1920s.” This impression is wrong if one would listen to the leaders of the liberal, secular, and democratic movement in Egypt. If Mr. Gerecht had listened carefully to Egypt’s vast Arabic language network on free TV and immersed himself in bloggers’ analyses, he would have avoided writing his piece in the prestigious Wall Street Journal. Most Egyptian analysts who were part of the revolution- not the coup, as the former CIA member keeps calling it- know all too well that the Islamists were not uprooted from Egypt, even though their regime was dismantled. Gerecht’s warnings are in vain, for most Egyptians are alert and are bracing for the counter revolution.

The FDD fellow claims: “Conventional wisdom says that the Brotherhood was founded in opposition to British imperialism and Westernizing secular dictators.” This is the wrong interpretation of history. The Ikhwan were launched after the Ottoman Caliphate was destroyed by secular Turks. British occupation of Egypt started circa 1888, and the Brotherhood was founded in the mid-1920s, forty years later, with the desire to bring back the Caliphate. Removing the British from Egypt was not just a goal of the Ikhwan, but of most Egyptians. The Wafd party was the first secular patriotic movement to demand an end to British colonialism, a la the American Revolution. Geretch espouses the argument of the Brotherhood to explain why popular discontent grew against the regime: “The Brotherhood immolated itself after just a year of grossly incompetent government.” However, most Egyptians rose against the Islamists because of the suppression of basic freedoms. Read the signs held by thirty million demonstrators on June 30 and July 26; it was not about bread and jobs, it was about fascism and oppression.

The author admits that “countless Egyptians who had voted for Brotherhood candidates and its constitution turned against the Islamist group in massive demonstrations” and that “there is also little doubt that many in the Muslim Brotherhood were shocked by the size of these rallies.” However, he denies that the Brotherhood “has been routed by marches that we now know were planned by the tamarrud (rebellion) movement and the military.” In his neo-Orientalist view of Egypt and the Arabic tradition in U.S. bureaucracies, he sees Egypt’s poor “in the vast slums of Cairo” as only able to find a sense of community under the mosques. Geretch and a whole generation of failed Middle East studies in the United States are unable to make the basic distinction that Islam and Islamism are two different concepts. The poor may go to the mosque, but everything depends on who is in the pulpit, a Salafist or a Sufi.

Gerecht slams Egypt’s young liberals as he slammed Iran’s youth in 2009. He writes, “This is not Facebook Cairo, where alienated, deplorably educated, unskilled youth express their anger online and show their own kind of community by staging street protests.” The former intelligence officer dismisses the online kids because he thinks that “local clerics, let alone the cultish, secretive godfathers of the Brotherhood” have more influence among the poor and the lower middle class. On June 30 and July 26, Gerecht and his intellectual companions were proven utterly wrong. The masses listened to their youth inasmuch as they listened to the preachers. Islamologues in the West missed the coach on this one.

Gerecht claims that:

“In these precincts the poor, the Egyptian army, the security services, and the police-all unreformed since the fall of Hosni Mubarak-are viewed suspiciously, if not with hostility. The newfound love affair between the army and Egypt’s secular liberals, who in a year’s time came to the conclusion that they needed the military to check Islamist power, will likely do nothing to diminish the skepticism that Egypt’s devout have for army officers and their associates.”

The analytical mistake goes deeper, as many researchers have parroted the assertions of the Edward Saids and John Espositos of America, in that by nature the poor  are drawn to religious figures and thus even more to the fundamentalist ones. In the mind of Western apologia, Arab and Egyptian poor have no judgment of their own, and perhaps no instincts. In the reality lived on the ground in Egypt, ordinary people make a clear distinction between regimes and armies. The poor are the army. Moreover, in his assessment, Gerecht, like most Western admirers of the Islamists, dismisses 30 million Egyptian citizens who protested the Ikhwan. The country’s liberals do not appear to outnumber the Islamists, but this silent majority of Egypt is the greatest of all forces in the nation. Once it moved against the Brotherhood, the latter shrunk to their real size.

More dangerously in his article, Gerecht accuses the army and security services of being the origin of Mohammed Morsi’s “problems.” He goes ballistic against the enemies of the Islamists: military, police, business elite, and Mubarak era remnants, the very “enemies” identified by the Muslim Brotherhood propaganda internationally. It is awkward that the former CIA analyst uses the exact narrative of the international Ikhwan network and their friends in Western media.

Read more: Family Security Matters

Magdi Khalil, Director of the Forum for Democracy, Cairo and Washington, D.C.