Apparently Washington, D.C. has only recently come to realize that U.S.-Middle East policy is in tatters. The degree of disarray still seems to be hidden from those charged with administering such a policy: the State Department. Neither the State Department nor any of our intelligence agencies seem to have had any inkling of an idea that the forces of revolt and revolution would break out in Arab North Africa and the Middle East. Each successive revolt caught our government by surprise: first in Tunisia, then in Egypt, and finally in Libya. After these revolutions, we again were taken by surprise at revolts in Yemen, Bahrain, and now Syria. All of these revolts follow some eighteen months after the smothered youth revolt in Iran, where our government did almost nothing to aid the young Iranians attempting to remove the tyrannical clerical rule of the Islamic extremist regime.
When it came to the revolt in Egypt, after some waffling, President Obama decided to pressure 82-year-old Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak into stepping down. Obama looked aside when the Egyptian military staged a coup “to restore order.” That the Muslim Brotherhood stands to reap the benefits of the current Egyptian “democracy movement” seems not to concern our administration. Long-term planning and careful analysis of Egyptian politics based on strong intelligence procurement apparently is far beyond the capabilities of the bureaucrats of Foggy Bottom and Langley, Virginia. Whoops! We’ve repeated our mistakes of Tehran 1979 — maybe we will get it right when dealing with Libya. We all hate Muammar Gaddafi so much that any move to oust him has got to be worth supporting, especially when we see him killing people in his own country.
Has anyone bothered to see who is leading the revolt against Gaddafi — who is financing the revolt and who is furnishing the rebels with arms? Has anyone checked to see if these “freedom fighters” have any ties to al-Qaeda or the Islamic Republic of Iran and its IRGC Qods Force? Has anyone checked to see if the rebels include jihadists that have fought against U.S. troops in Afghanistan and/or Iraq? Whoops! We missed that one, too! Maybe we will get it right in dealing with Yemen.
So are we pro-Saleh or anti-Saleh, and if we are anti-Saleh (who has been pro-U.S. but a dictator like every other Arab ruler), have we bothered to check out his opposition? What? Has anyone checked to see whether General Ali Muhsin Al-Ahmar still maintains ties with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula? Do we care?
And what do we think about the fate of the regime of Bashar el-Assad of Syria? Are we still convinced that if we find the right-sized carrot, we can pry him away from his ties to Tehran? Do we care that he may be replaced by the Ikhwan, or do we think that those Syrian university students will all turn out to be peace-loving secular democrats? Does President Obama think that a couple of somber declarations supporting democracy will outgun the 10,000 Iranian Pasdaran sent to bolster Assad’s regime? Do we have any deep-cover agents informing us about events in news blacked-out Syria? And do we have intelligence on the political leanings of the Syrian opposition inside that country?
And what is going on with our ties to our “ally” Iraq? Is anyone paying attention to the fact that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki just ordered an attack on Camp Ashraf, home to 3,500 Iranian dissidents for the past twenty-six years — a group that has been under U.S. Army protection since May 2003, having signed a formal treaty with our government at that time? Have our State and Defense Departments done anything to prevent the murder of 34 Iranian dissidents, the kidnapping of six more, and the injury of yet another 350 last weekend despite having received warnings of the pending attack for a full week ahead of the attack (which commenced on Friday morning, April 8)? Is President Obama concerned about innocent, unarmed Iranians being murdered in cold blood in Iraq, or is it only Libyan rebel blood that tugs at his heartstrings? Are the Iranians disposable because Obama still harbors hopes to engage the mullahs in dialogue?
And what are we to think about the administration’s hopes for a peace treaty between the Palestinians and Israel? Does the State Department pay any attention to the fact that Palestinian Authority President Abbas has done nothing to end incitement against Israel, that the Fatah Covenant has the same text about the destruction of Israel as does the Hamas Covenant, despite the late Yassir Arafat’s promise to change and remove the offensive text, and that indeed, the Palestinian Authority speaks for only the West Bank while the Gaza Strip is governed by an entirely different entity — Hamas — which refuses to recognize Israel and continues to attack Israel with rockets and mortar shells?
The revolts throughout the Arab world have shown that Israel is not the central problem, and yet our president and his State Department seem to follow the old line that the Palestine question is the root of all the Middle East’s woes. One would think that the lessons of the last four months had shown Foggy Bottom that in fact, human and civil rights as well as economics are the keys to improving the lives of the masses in the Middle East. But the fog is not to be found only along the banks of the Potomac; unfortunately, it’s located in the minds of those charged with crafting our foreign policy.
Only when we realize that Islamic fundamentalism in any and all of its forms is a major threat to this country and the Western culture upon which this nation is founded will we begin to forge a policy that defends our allies and fights our foes. Political correctness and multiculturalism may be popular in liberal circles, but they do little to defend our nation and culture from a very hostile sharia-adhering foe. The sooner Washington comes to realize this fact, the better it will be for all of us who treasure individual liberties, freedom, and democracy — i.e., conditions that exist in only one country in the Middle East: the Jewish State of Israel.
Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism. He may be contacted at contact@ADME.ws.