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

U.S.: Strategic Objectives in the Middle East

Gatestone Institute, by Peter Huessy, June 22, 2017:

  • The new “test” of our alliance will be whether the assembled nations will join in removing the hateful parts of such a doctrine from their communities.
  • What still has to be considered is the U.S. approach to stopping Iran from filling the vacuum created by ridding the region of the Islamic State (ISIS), as well as Iran’s push for extending its path straight through to the Mediterranean.

The tectonic plates in the Middle East have shifted markedly with President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and his announced new regional policy.

The trip represented the beginning of a major but necessary shift in US security policy.

For much of the last nearly half-century, American Middle East policy has been centered on the “peace process” and how to bring Israel and the Palestinians to agreement on a “two-state” solution for two peoples — a phrase that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to say.

First was shuttle diplomacy during 1973-74 in the Nixon administration; then second, in 1978, the Camp David agreement and the recognition of Israel by Egypt, made palatable by $7 billion in new annual US assistance to the two nations; third, the anti-Hizballah doctrine, recently accurately described by National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster, as Iran, since 1983, started spreading its terror to Lebanon and elsewhere in the region. This last effort was often excused by many American and European analysts as a result somehow, of supposed American bad faith. Fourth, came the birth, in 1992, of the “Oslo Accords” where some Israelis and Palestinians imagined that a two-state solution was just another round of negotiations away.

Ironically, during the decade after Oslo, little peace was achieved; instead, terror expanded dramatically. The Palestinians launched three wars, “Intifadas,” against Israel; Al Qaeda launched its terror attacks on U.S. Embassies in Africa; and Iran, Hizballah, and Al Qaeda together carried out the forerunner attacks against America of 9/11/2001.

Since 9/11, despite wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism has not only failed to recede; on the contrary, it has expanded. Iran has become the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, and the Islamic State (ISIS) has tried to establish a transnational “Islamic caliphate.” Literally tens of thousands of terror attacks have been carried out since 9/11 by those claiming an Islamic duty to do so. These assaults on Western civilization have taken place on bridges, cafes, night clubs, offices, military recruitment centers, theaters, markets, and sporting events — not only across the West but also in countries where Muslims have often been the primary victims.

Particularly condemnable have been the improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, perpetrated to a great extent by Iran, according to U.S. military testimony before Congress.

All the while, we in the West keep trying to convince ourselves that, as a former American president thought, if there were a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, most of the terrorist attacks we see in Europe and the United States “would disappear.”

No matter how hard we may rhetorically push the “peace process”, there is no arc of history that bends naturally in that direction. Rather, nations such as the United States together with its allies must create those alliances best able to meet the challenges to peace and especially defeat the totalitarian elements at the core of Islamist ideology.

If anything, the so-called Middle East “peace process” has undercut chances of achieving a sound U.S. security policy. While the search for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian “problem” dominated American thinking about Middle East peace for so many decades, other far more serious threats materialized but were often ignored, not the least of which was the rise of Iran as the world’s most aggressive terrorist.

The United States has now moved in a markedly more promising and thoughtful direction.

The new American administration has put together an emerging coalition of nations led by the United States that seeks five objectives:

(1) the defeat of Islamic State;

(2) the formation of a coalition of the major Arab nations, especially Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to clean up in their own back yards financing terrorism and providing terrorists with sanctuary. As Elliott Abrams, an adviser to former U.S. President George W. Bush, cautions us, however, this will not be an easy effort: “Partnerships with repressive regimes may in some cases exacerbate rather than solve the problem for us” but, Abrams says, “gradual reform is exactly the right approach…”;

3) “driving out” sharia-inspired violence and human rights abuses from the region’s mosques and madrassas;

(4) a joint partnership with Israel as part of an emerging anti-Iran coalition — without letting relations with the Palestinian authority derail United States and Israeli security interests; and

(5) the adoption of a strategy directly to challenge Iran’s quest for regional and Islamic hegemony, while ending its role in terrorism.

Defeating Islamic State

Defeating ISIS began with an accelerated military campaign and a new American-led strategy to destroy the organization rather than to seek its containment. According to the new U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, “Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis. (Dept. of Defense/Brigitte N. Brantley)

So far, the United States coalition has driven ISIS from 55,000 square kilometers of territory in Iraq and Syria.

A New Coalition

Apart from a strategy to counter ISIS, the Trump administration also called on our allies in the Middle East to put together a new joint multi-state effort to stop financing terrorism. Leading the multi-state effort will be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, which together will supposedly open a new center dedicated to the elimination of terrorist financing. Positive results are not guaranteed, but it is a step in the right direction.

According to Abdul Hadi Habtoor, the center will exchange information about financing networks, adopt means to cut off funding from terrorist groups, and hopefully blacklist Iran’s jihadist army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These measures in turn will help eliminate the sanctuaries from which terrorists plot and plan.

This move also places emphasis on the responsibility of states to eliminate terrorism. As President Trump said, each country — where it is sovereign — has to “carry the weight of their own self-defense“, be “pro-active” and responsible for “eradicating terrorism”, and “to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil”.

This determination was underscored by many Arab countries breaking diplomatic relations with Qatar for its support of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Most of Qatar’s Arab neighbors, including the Saudis, Egypt, and the UAE did so, while the US, although denouncing Qatar’s support of terrorism, continues to maintain access to, and use of, its critical military base there.

In short, the U.S. is playing good-cop, bad-cop in the region, while U.S. allies are putting together what Josh Rogin of the Washington Post described as “a regional security architecture encompassing countries on the periphery of Iran.”

Such an approach is not without risk: Turkey, allied with Iran and Qatar, has already has pledged to help Qatar defy the Gulf States’ trade cut-off. If Turkey, for example, seeks to move its promised aid shipments to Qatar through the Suez Canal, the ships could possibly be blocked by Egypt or attacked on the high seas. Does the U.S. then come to the assistance of a NATO member — Turkey — against an ally in the strategic coalition?

Drive Hateful Ideology Out

A companion challenge by the new American President underscored this new security effort. President Trump said to the assembled nations of the Islamic conference that they have to expel the ugly Islamist ideology from the mosques and madrassas that recruit terrorists and justify their actions.

Trump said: “Drive them out of your places of worship”. Such words had never been spoken so clearly by an American president, especially to the collection of nearly all the Islamic-majority countries (minus the Shi’ite bloc) gathered together.

The president’s audience doubtless understood that he was speaking of the doctrine of sharia (Islamic law). The new “test” of our alliance will be whether the assembled nations will join in removing the hateful parts of the doctrine from their communities. It was a sharp but critical departure from the previous American administration’s message in Cairo in 2009, and placed the Islamic doctrine that seeks to establish the sharia throughout the world in a contained context.

New Israeli Partnership

With Israel, the administration has cemented the next part of its strategy. Here the Trump administration successfully improved our political and military relations with Israel. Markedly so. One part of that effort was enhanced missile-defense cooperation called for in the FY18 United States defense budget, specifically to deal with Iranian and Iranian-allied missile threats.

On relations with the Palestinian Authority, the administration has moved to improve matters but has not moved to advocate a two-state solution — for which there is no contemplated security framework sufficient to protect Israel.

Challenge and Roll Back Iran

The final part of the administration’s strategy starts with a thorough review of our Iran strategy and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or “nuclear deal”, with Iran. As Max Singer recently wrote, even if we discount what secretive nuclear capability Iran may now have, the Iranian regime will at the very least be much closer to producing nuclear weapons down the road than when the JCPOA was agreed to.

As Ambassador John Bolton has warned the nuclear deal with Iran did nothing to restrain Iranian harmful behavior: “Defiant missile launches… support for the genocidal Assad regime… backing of then Houthi insurgency in Yemen… worldwide support for terrorism… and commitment to the annihilation of Israel” continue.

In addition, uranium enrichment, heavy water production, the concealed military dimensions of warhead development and joint missile and nuclear work with North Korea all lend a critical urgency to countering Iran’s lethal efforts. The United States did not make these counter-efforts any easier by providing to Tehran $100 billion in escrowed Iranian funds, equivalent to nearly one quarter of the Islamic Republic’s annual GDP.

The United States’ and Europe’s easing of sanctions on Iran has helped reintegrate Iran into global markets via mechanisms such as the electronic payment system run by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT). That, in turn, has helped Iran expand dramatically its military modernization budget by 33%, including deals worth tens of billions of dollars in military hardware with China and Russia.

Added to that is Iranian financial- and weapons-support for foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Iran’s significant support to the Houthi rebels in Yemen includes weaponry, financing and logistical support, including advanced offensive missiles. The Houthis regularly attempt to carry out missile attacks against Saudi oil facilities.

Such Iran activity is described by the Commander of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, as “the most significant threat to the Central Region and to our national interests and the interest of our partners and allies”.

As such, it can only be challenged through exactly the kind of military, political, and economic coalition the Trump administration is seeking to band together, which would include the Gulf Arab nations, especially Saudi Arabia, as well as Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.

The administration’s five-step strategy has a chance to work. It creates a policy to destroy ISIS; oppose Islamic terrorism and specifically the imposition of sharia; adopt measures to go after the financing of such terrorism; implement improvements in Gulf allies’ military capabilities — including missile defenses — parallel with pushing NATO members to meet their military spending obligations; put back into place a sound and cooperative relationship with Israel; and specifically contain and roll back Iranian hegemonic ambitions and its terror-master ways.

What still has to be considered, however, is the U.S. approach to stopping Iran from filling the vacuum created by ridding the region of ISIS, as well as Iran’s push for extending its path straight through to the Mediterranean.

If successful, some modicum of peace may be brought to the Middle East. And the arc of history will have finally been shaped toward America’s interests and those of its allies, rather than — however inadvertently — toward its mortal enemies.

Dr. Peter Huessy is President of GeoStrategic Analysis, a defense consulting firm he founded in 1981, and was the senior defense consultant at the National Defense University Foundation for more than 20 years.

Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Taliban: The Terror Groups That Have Called Qatar Home

Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, June 13, 2017:

The government of Sunni-majority Qatar has long hosted and legitimized political leaders from the terrorist organizations known as the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the Hamas Palestinian movement, and more recently the Afghan Taliban.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain have severed ties with their fellow predominantly Sunni nation Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the Muslim region with its support for Islamic terrorist organizations and plunging the Arab Gulf nations into a diplomatic crisis.

Qatari officials have repeatedly denied the allegations, dismissing them as “unjustified” and having “no basis in fact.”

“Qatar became a central target of the Saudi-Emirati-Israeli joint lobbying efforts for its perceived role in promoting the Muslim Brotherhood and hosting members of Hamas’ political bureau,” reports Al Jazeera.

In 2013, Qatar allowed the Afghan Taliban to open an official political office in its capital Doha. Although the Qatari government allegedly shut it down, Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to be still operating in Doha.

A senior Qatari official recently told Al Jazeera that Doha hosted the Taliban at the “request of the U.S. government,” led by former President Barack Obama at the time.

Under President Donald Trump, who has recently expressed strong support for Saudi Arabia, the United States joined the Sunni kingdom’s allies in condemning Qatar for supporting and assisting Iran and jihadist groups.

Hamas, officially deemed as a terrorist group by the United States, is considered one of Iran’s terror proxies.

Echoing comments made by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Tuesday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) blasted Qatar’s ties to terrorism on the same day.

Qatar “must stop supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Jubeir told reporters.

During a hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa hearing titled, “Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S.-Saudi Relationship,” Chairman Royce declared:

Qatar’s relationship with Hamas remains very concerning. Senior leaders of Hamas and the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood – which is an Islamist group designated as terrorists by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates – all reside in Qatar today.

And earlier this month – and I think this is what is most concerning for all of us here – more Hamas tunnels were found under two U.N. Relief Works Agency schools in Gaza. Found underneath the schools in Gaza. So Hamas is still using civilians and children to hide its activities. And that, to me, does not sound like a legitimate resistance movement.

Qatar’s foreign minister recently referred to Hamas as “a legitimate resistance movement.”

The Sunni country “has doubled down on its relationship with Hamas,” noted Congressman Royce, later adding, “This practice needs to end now. There is no such thing as a ‘good terrorist group.’”

According to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Hamas is responsible for for the death of more than 400 Israelis and at least 25 American citizens.

“Palestinian terrorism represents a grave threat to Israeli security and the prospects for a two-state solution,” said New York’s Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House panel, in a statement issued on May 26.“Congress must work to stop international support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and foreign supporters of these organizations must understand the risks associated with perpetuating this perverse violence.”

The Obama administration refused to officially deem the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group despite requests from Republican lawmakers.

President Trump is expected to support efforts to label MB a terrorist organization.

Unlike its predecessor, the Trump administration did not hesitate to refer to the Afghan Taliban as a “terrorist” group.

The U.S. has officially labeled the Afghan Taliban a terrorist organization.

Qatari foreign minister’s special envoy on counterterrorism told Al Jazeera that Doha allowed the Afghan Taliban to establish an office at the “request of the U.S. government” in 2013 and as part of the country’s “open-door policy, to facilitate talks, to mediate and to bring peace.”

Qatar “was facilitating the talks between the Americans, the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan,” claimed Mutlaq Al Qahtani, the FM’s envoy.

Also see:

BREAKING: Major Confrontation Between Saudi, Egypt, UAE Against Qatar Over Terror Support

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 4, 2017:

Several countries took major moves against Qatar today over its support for terror. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties, setting off a major crisis in the Middle East.

The move also cuts Qatar’s transit rights with these countries:

The BBC reports:

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region.

The countries say Qatar is supporting terrorist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact.

It cited officials as saying it was to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

Egypt has also closed its airspace and ports for all Qatari transportation, the foreign ministry said.

The United Arab Emirates has given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Abu Dhabi accuses Doha of “supporting, funding and embracing terrorism, extremism and sectarian organisations,” state news agency WAM said.

Bahrain’s state news agency said the country was cutting ties with Qatar over “shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs”.

Kuwait and Oman are sitting this one out for the moment:

Which leaves Iran as Qatar’s main lifeline:

And with transit rights cut off, they’re going to need one:

Of course, Qatar’s support for terrorism is no secret in the Middle East:

And the behind-the-scenes activity may have been behind reports over the weekend regarding Qatar’s sponsorship of Hamas:

It remains to be seen if Qatar will invoke its joint defense agreement with Iran in response to these measures.

Apparently it was Qatar’s close ties with Iran and siding with the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen that contributed to this crisis.

Read more

Also see:

Trump’s ‘Principled Realism’ Is Not Very Realistic about Islam

The principal fiction in the president’s speech in Saudi Arabia was the claim that we share ‘common values’ with the sharia society.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, May 22, 2017:

So for what exactly is the “extreme vetting” going to vet?

That was the question I could not shake from my mind while listening to President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to dozens of Sunni Islamic leaders and a global television audience.

There were certainly some positives in the president’s rhetoric. Trump did not cite American policy or “arrogance” as a contributory cause of jihadist savagery, as President Obama was wont to do. He was less delusional about the splendor of Islam than were Obama and President George W. Bush. Gone were absurd inflations of Islam’s historical achievements and place in the American fabric; gone were allusions to the “religion of peace and love.” In their place was an acknowledgment that Islam is besieged by a “crisis” of terror that is engulfing the world, a crisis that is ideological in nature and that only Muslims themselves can solve.

All true. Nevertheless, the theme that came through the speech is that terrorism is something that happens to Islam, rather than something that happens because of Islam. That is simply not the case, even though it is true, as Trump asserted, that the vast majority of those killed by Muslim terrorists are themselves Muslims.

There is thus a good deal that is not real about “Principled Realism,” Trump’s name for what he heralds as a new American strategy — “new approaches informed by experience and judgment,” a “discarding” of strategies “that have not worked.”

The principal fiction in “principled realism” is that we share “common values” with Sunni Arab sharia societies. That is problematic because these purported “common values” — in conjunction with “shared interests” — are said to be the roots of Trump’s approach.

The president stressed that during his first overseas trip as president, he would be “visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic faiths.” The irony was palpable, at least to some of us. Trump is not visiting the holiest places of Islam.

Yes, upon departing Saudi Arabia, he headed to Israel where he prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In the offing is a jaunt to Rome, to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis. But for all the treacle about “why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation [Saudi Arabia] that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith,” Trump sidestepped the fact that he is not welcome in those two sites, Mecca and Medina.

Why? Because the president is a non-Muslim. Non-Muslims are not allowed to step their infidel feet in Islam’s sacred cities.

That iteration of Islamic intolerance is squarely based on scripture — see, e.g., the Koran’s Sura 9:28: “Oh you who believe! Truly the idolaters are unclean, so let them not, after this year, approach the sacred mosque” — a verse that specifically relates to the Grand Mosque in Mecca (Makkah), and has been extended by Islamic scholars to Medina. That is why Trump’s House of Saud hosts enforce a ban on entry by non-Muslims to both cities.

I say that this ban is just one “iteration of Islamic intolerance” for two reasons.

First, there are many other iterations. Scripturally based Islamic doctrine systematically discriminates against non-Muslims in many particulars, and against women in many others. Since Trump’s “principled realism” is said to be rooted in “common values,” it might be worth a gander at the guidance Trump’s State Department provides to Americans pondering a trip to the kingdom:

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, imprisoned, subject to physical punishments, or even executed. Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession, and consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs in Saudi Arabia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, public floggings, and/or deportation. The penalty for drug trafficking is death . . .

Faith-Based Travelers: Islam is the official religion of the country and pervades all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi authorities do not permit criticism of Islam, religious figures, or the royal family.

The government prohibits the public practice of religions other than Islam. Non-Muslims suspected of violating these restrictions have been jailed. Church services in private homes have been raided, and participants have been jailed.

Muslims who do not adhere to the strict interpretations of Islam prevalent in much of Saudi Arabia frequently encounter societal discrimination and constraints on worship.

Public display of non-Islamic religious articles, such as crosses and Bibles, is not permitted.

[And, of course . . .] Non-Muslims are forbidden to travel to Makkah (Mecca) and Medina, the cities where two of Islam’s holiest mosques are located . . .

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations, even when they are consensual, are criminalized in Saudi Arabia. Violations of Saudi laws governing perceived expressions of, or support for, same sex sexual relations, including on social media, may be subject to severe punishment. Potential penalties include fines, jail time, or death.

The State Department guidance suggests that readers consult the International Religious Freedom Report produced in 2015 by State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. It relates the brutal punishments meted out by some Islamic countries — not jihadist organizations, but governments in Muslim-majority countries — for blasphemy and apostasy. The paragraph on the Kingdom is worth reading:

In Saudi Arabia, media and local sources reported that the General Court in Abha sentenced Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death for apostasy in November, overturning a previous sentence of four years’ imprisonment and 800 lashes (the death sentence was subsequently overturned in February 2016 and a sentence of eight years’ imprisonment and 800 lashes imposed). Officials from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice initially arrested Fayadh in August 2013, after reports that he had made disparaging remarks about Islam. In a separate incident in January, authorities publicly lashed Raif Badawi 50 times in accordance with a sentence based on his 2013 conviction for violating Islamic values, violating sharia, committing blasphemy, and mocking religious symbols on the Internet.

This is why, watching Trump and his senior aides prance about the palace in Riyadh, doing “the sword dance” with their fellow male revelers, I couldn’t help but wonder if they realized how often their host regime uses the scimitars to carry out beheadings for violations of Islamic law. There were 153 decapitations last year and 158 in 2015.

It is worth emphasizing: That is not something that was done by ISIS for violations of sharia. It was done by the government of Saudi Arabia for violations of sharia.

Which brings us to the second reason why Islamic intolerance must be noted in our consideration of “principled realism”: That intolerance is the foundation of “extremism,” the studiously unexamined term Trump now applies to jihadist terrorism, just as Obama and Bush did before him.

There was much ado in the lead up and delivery of Trump’s speech regarding how he would describe the phenomenon he labeled “radical Islamic terrorism” throughout the 2016 campaign — ridiculing the craven political correctness of rivals who shied away from this terminology. As with much else Trump said on the hustings, the label is the subject of intense infighting in his administration.

Reflecting the view of former military commanders who serve in the administration’s top ranks (and who carried out Bush’s “Islamic democracy” building and Obama’s embrace of our Islamic “partners”), national-security adviser H. R. McMaster is said to be repulsed by the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” apparently seeing it as needlessly provocative. Other Trump strategists, who supported the campaign’s promise to be unflinching in illustrating the nexus between Islamic scripture and Muslim terrorism, strongly favor the term. Trump, who simultaneously wants (a) profitable relations with the Saudis, (b) the refutation of claims that he is anti-Muslim, and (c) credit for being honest about the connection between Islam and terror, seems torn.

The intramural squabble was evident during the speech. As prepared, the text had the president calling for “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires” (emphasis added). But when he actually delivered his remarks, Trump departed from the script, speaking instead of “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

An unidentified aide insisted to the New York Times that the president was “exhausted” and simply misspoke when he invoked “Islamic.” To the contrary, I believe he is struggling to resolve this tension. As I pointed out prior to his inauguration, however, it is unclear that Trump grasps why the tension is significant: For him, it may reflect concern over the inevitable criticism if he abandons hot campaign rhetoric, not over whether the distinction between Islamic and Islamist is viable.

We draw this distinction out of a conviction that Islam the religion should not be confounded with Islamism the political ideology. This conviction may be more a matter of wishful thinking than anything that can be called “realism.” That is manifest when we review the afore-described State Department guidance. Intolerance of non-Muslims and subjugation of women is not a reflection of jihadist “extremism”; it is mainstream Islam as practiced and codified in sharia societies.

So here is the problem: The definition of “extremism” that Trump’s “principled realism” sets itself against is artificial and incoherent. It is true, of course, that not all Muslims who support the intolerance rooted in Islamic doctrine and expressed by the policies of majority-Muslim regimes will become violent jihadists. Nonetheless, violent jihad is a natural progression from that intolerance. Yet Trump’s “principled realism” holds that the American people and sharia societies share “common values” that will cause the latter to fight jihadism.

How could anyone believe this is the case unless he is willfully blind to how the kingdom is governed, the longstanding support Saudis have provided for terrorism, and the number of Saudis complicit in anti-American terrorism? Trump is trying to have it both ways: acknowledge that the threat is ideological (and demand plaudits for brave political incorrectness in doing so), but pretend that the violent aspects of the ideology can be — indeed, have been — compartmentalized from the intolerant dehumanization of non-Muslims at the core of the ideology.

If this is Trump’s position, then why all the fuss about “extreme vetting”?

If you are myopically focused on terrorism, you are missing most of the challenge posed by sharia encroachment.

The imperative to enhance the vetting process for people trying to enter the U.S. from hotbeds of radical Islam was a major plank of the Trump campaign. It is the eventual goal hovering over disputes over temporary travel bans the president has tried to impose since the start of his administration. But does anyone remember the objective of “extreme vetting”? It was to bar entry to those adherent to the ideology (which I prefer to call “sharia supremacism”) that promotes not just terrorism but anti-Americanism and anti-constitutionalism. Our immigration law already vets for ties to terrorism.

In his “principled realism” speech, however, the president takes the position that we’re only concerned about violence. “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do,” he says. Our “goal is . . . to conquer extremism” — a term the president narrows to mean terrorism — lest he insult his “gracious hosts.” If you are myopically focused on terrorism, however, you are missing most of the challenge posed by sharia encroachment. Jihadist terror is not pointless; its purpose is to impose sharia — a version of it similar to what the Saudis enforce.

The president is up in a balloon because, as he explained in his speech, he has “signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.” Perhaps his strategists could inform the president that when Saudi Arabia invests in America, the result invariably includes the construction of schools and mosques that propagate the ideology that causes the State Department to issue the travel guidance outlined above. (See, e.g., my 2010 profile of the Dar al-Hijra mosque in Virginia.)

According to the president, “principled realism” is based not only on purported “common values” but also “shared interests.” That does make sense. The Trump administration is returning American foreign policy to its pre-Obama orientation against the Shiite jihadist regime in Iran. The Sunni states also oppose Iran. That is the “shared interest.” It is a significant area of agreement, but a narrow one. We should not delude ourselves into thinking it signifies “common values.”

In a passage that could as easily have been spoken by President Bush, and probably even by President Obama, President Trump asserted:

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between Good and Evil [capitalization in White House-issued text].

So we’re back to the question whether Islam has anything to do with Islamist (or Islamic) terrorism.

I’ll take it from the Saudi perspective. Let’s say, as the president does, that we are truly engaged in a battle between good and evil. When you read the State Department’s guidance regarding travel to Saudi Arabia — guidance that is necessary because of the way the Saudi government treats non-Muslims, women, apostates, and homosexuals — do you suppose the Saudis and their Sunni confederates see the United States as the “good” or the “evil” side?

President Trump is banking on the former. I’m not.

7 Moments from Trump’s Speech in Saudi Arabia

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in Saudi Arabia (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, May 22, 2017:

President Trump’s brazen speech in Saudi Arabia is being praised from (almost) all quarters. Its powerful moments will be remembered for years and will reverberate throughout the Middle East. But no speech is perfect.

Here are seven moments from the speech, starting with what may be the closest President Trump may come to having his “Tear Down This Wall” moment:

  1. It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.
    A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.
     DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.
    DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.
    DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and
    DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.
    This is strongest statement towards the Muslim world uttered by an American president since 9/11 and perhaps in history. These words—and the Trumpian delivery of them—will be remembered for years to come. While eloquent words favored by speechwriters and high-brow elites are usually forgotten, these won’t be.There are also two clear sub-messages: One, that the Muslim world is not adequately “driving them out,” meaning, the Islamists still thrive in mosques, holy lands (which would include Saudi Arabia) and Muslim communities. The enemy are not fringe, undetectable loners. Secondly, don’t outsource your responsibility for this to America.

    We won’t let you scapegoat us and have us respond by apologizing for the grievances you use to excuse yourself from responsibility. This is your problem: Own it.

  2. Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED. This is another strike in the ideological war where the Trumpian way of speaking is powerful, especially when you consider how accustomed the Middle East is to the softer diplomatic tone of the West in contrast to the fiery hyperbole that is common place in that part of the world.Trump recognized something crucial: The enemy believes it is pious and is impacted by religious teaching from authoritative figures. It’s not about anger over foreign policy or joblessness or lack of education. It’s about piety and a belief that dying in jihad is a guaranteed ticket to Paradise.
  3. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians.

    Most of the speech used vague, relative terms like “terrorism” and “extremism.” The focus was almost entirely on ISIS and Iran. But then came this paragraph. President Trump identified the enemy not just as Islamist terrorist groups, but the Islamist extremism foundation necessary for those groups to manifest.Of special note is the line about “persecution of Jews.” This was not stated with some moral equivalence about how Israel shares blame for stifling the nationalist aspirations of Palestinians. No, Trump identified anti-Semitism as a central problem outside of the context of Israel. That omission is powerful.The identification of the enemy as Islamist extremism is refreshing, but as Dr. Daniel Pipes points out, “one statement does not a policy make.” Even Obama uttered the word “jihadist” on a few rare occasions.

    The framing of the enemy as Islamism should have been the focal point of the speech, rather than waiting until the middle and the end to use the term. What should have followed was a strategy, with the sticks and carrots, to uproot the sustainers of the ideology so it dissipates into history. A question is left hanging, “Now what? What changes?”

  4. The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and so many others must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.

    The inclusion of Hamas and Hezbollah in this section is very significant. It wasn’t a call for Hamas and Hezbollah to drop terrorism to achieve their goals, as if they are freedom fighters gone astray.The argument wasn’t that their actions are counterproductive: It was that their very existence has sabotaged a potentially promising future from the people of the Middle East—not just Palestinians and Lebanese, but everyone. Again he framed the issue not as a consequence of Israel, thus negating claims of Hamas and Hezbollah of being “liberation” movements.

  5. The birthplace of civilization is waiting to begin a new renaissance. Just imagine what tomorrow could bring.This is a call for a reformation into modernity (as opposed to the “reformation” offered by the Islamist movements). President Obama acknowledged this necessity—but he did it in an interview, not in a historical speech to the Muslim world from Saudi Arabia.Ideally, Trump would have given a little more time to describe what is holding back this renaissance beyond a generic attribution to “extremism.” He should have taken a queue from Egyptian President El-Sisi and consulted with progressive Muslim reformers.

    Trump called for “gradual change,” but failed to mention freedom, even gradually-granted freedom. His team likely worried that the mention of freedom would be interpreted as a synonym for democracy promotion, but caveats could have addressed that. This renaissance and rolling back of Islamism will require greater political and religious freedom, and acknowledging so does not make one an advocate of hasty destabilizations.

  6. Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.President Obama’s attitude towards Iran unnerved our Sunni Arab partners in the region. The heavy focus on Iran should help address that, but the fixation on the Iranian regime seemed to echo the Saudi line that Iran is responsible for practically all of the terrorism and extremism in the region. This let the Sunni side of radical Islam get off easy.The statement about hoping for a better government for the Iranian people is positive, as it at least welcomes regime change.However, it does not signal an American commitment to regime change in Iran or even regime destabilization. President Trump’s opposition to regime change is clear. To the ears of skeptical Iranians seeking freedom, this will sound like another investment in the hope that the Iranian  “moderates” in the regime can slowly gain support in the theocratic system.
  7. The Sunni governments got off easy.If you listened to the Saudi king’s speech before Trump’s—where he said sharia protects innocent life and promotes peace and tolerance [basically engaging in dawa (proselytizing) to the world] — you’d see that he was one small step from declaring an American-Sunni jihad on Iran. It gave the impression that the Saudis saw the words of the speech as relating to ISIS and Iran alone, not holding them accountable.Based on the way Trump talked about the Saudis, you would have thought they were modern day Minutemen in need of a motivational speech. I shared Dr. Daniel Pipes’ reaction of “gagging” at the praise he gave to King Salman, who is known to have directly financed jihadists.The massive sale of arms to the Saudis was described as “blessed,” as if God’s hand had arranged and approved of the transfer. The Saudis’ opening of a Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology was praised as “groundbreaking,” even though we’ve heard this story over and over and have no details with which to judge it as “groundbreaking” or not. At this point, it’s more like the wolf guarding the hen house.Qatar and Kuwait, two major financiers of Islamist terrorism and extremism, were praised shortly before Trump praised the Gulf Cooperation Council for blocking terror-financing.

Overall, the speech had tremendous moments, with important subtleties that are important to notice. But the speech was not a launch of an ideological war against Islamism. While it was a great call to action, it was not a plan of action. If this speech is to produce concrete results, the declaration of a bold plan of action must soon follow.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. To invite Ryan to speak, please contact us.

On Mideast Policy, the Swamp Drains Trump

FILE — In this Tuesday, March 14, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump stands with Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before lunch in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. With an eye toward Washington, leaders of a fractured and conflict-ridden Arab world hold their annual summit Wednesday, March 29, 2017, seeking common ground as President Donald Trump weighs his approach toward the region. The stalled Palestinian quest for statehood, is an issue that host Jordan says will take center stage. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

PJ Media, by Robert Spencer, May 18, 2017:

Speaking Friday about President Trump’s trip to the Middle East, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster said that Trump would:

… develop a strong, respectful message that the United States and the entire civilized world expects our Muslim allies to take a strong stance against radical Islamist ideology.

Those who are aware of how badly U.S. foreign policy has run off the rails over the last fifteen years should be deeply disturbed.

The world has been waiting in vain for that decade-and-a-half for “our Muslim allies to take a strong stance against radical Islamist ideology.” McMaster’s words were a disquieting indication that the foreign policy swamp, one in the most dire need of draining, has instead turned the tables on the president.

Trump now appears set to repeat all the mistakes his last two predecessors made in dealing with the global jihad threat.

McMaster added that jihad terrorists were operating according to “an ideology that uses a perverted interpretation of religion to justify crimes against all humanity.” But Trump, on the other hand, “will call for Muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of Islam.”

Here we go again.

How many times since 9/11 has one American spokesman or another declared that “the United States and the entire civilized world expects our Muslim allies to take a strong stance against radical Islamist ideology”? And what do we have to show for this expectation? How many years must we expect this before we realize that our “Muslim allies” have vastly different priorities than what mainstream counterterror analysts would wish to believe?

Pakistan’s government sheltered first bin Laden and now Zawahiri, was involved in the Mumbai jihad massacre and other jihad attacks, and has funneled much of the money the U.S. gave it to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban to … al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Turkey has repeatedly refused to strike strongly against the Islamic State (ISIS). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is much more concerned with hitting Assad and the Kurds.

How long do we keep waiting on these “Muslim allies” to do the right thing, and weakly and pusillanimously calling upon them to do so?

And Trump “will call for Muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of Islam”? Well, there’s something we’ve never seen tried before!

Where has McMaster been for the last decade-and-a-half? Buried deep in the foreign policy establishment swamp that has been serving up this nonsense all these years. And now he has apparently sold President “Drain The Swamp” on it.

Both Bush and Obama called for Muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of Islam; they also both claimed that the jihadis’ version of Islam “uses a perverted interpretation of religion.” Where did it get them? The same place comforting falsehoods always take you: into a maze of blind alleys and failed policies based on incorrect analysis.

Even worse, McMaster said:

[W]ith President Abbas, Trump will express his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians.

Does no one around Trump understand that a Palestinian state would immediately become a strengthened base for new and more virulent jihad attacks against a weakened Israel? When they met in Washington recently, Abbas lied brazenly to President Trump: he claimed that his government “educates for peace,” and that the Palestinian Authority is “raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.” Meanwhile, on the same day, Abbas’ government honored 12 jihad mass murderers who are responsible for the deaths of 95 people.

The foreign policy establishment’s house organ, Foreign Policy, is worried that “in the White House ‘Game of Thrones for morons,’ Steve Bannon is trying to turn the president against his national security advisor.” We can only hope that Bannon succeeds. It’s ironic that Foreign Policy would dub the Trump team “morons” when it is the foremost exponent of the analyses and policies that have failed multiple times, and that McMaster is once again pushing.

Once again, because he has done this before. In February, according to CNN:

[A]t an all-hands meeting of the National Security Council, [McMaster] said jihadist terrorists aren’t true to their professed religion and that the use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” doesn’t help the US in working with allies to defeat terrorist groups.

A source who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals has informed me that he was present in August 2014 when McMaster was the featured speaker for the President’s Lecture Series at National Defense University in Washington. In his address, McMaster said flatly:

The Islamic State is not Islamic.

Now, this was during the Obama regime, when that was the official policy of the U.S. government, but President Trump has repeatedly criticized his predecessor (and his 2016 election opponent) for not being willing to call the problem of jihad terror by its right name. When he first became president, Trump repeatedlystated his determination to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism.”

But what McMaster has announced represents a giant step backward in the effort to do that.

This represents a huge victory for the McCain/Graham Republican establishment, which subscribes no less than McMaster does to the “Islam is a religion of peace” line, and is also trying to neutralize Trump and keep the swamp from being drained.

Don’t break this promise, Mr. President.