Obama's Islamist Tilt

Important overseas populations are drawing the conclusion that the Obama administration is quietly realigning itself in the Middle East, toward the Islamists.

Recently returning from a visit to Egypt, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) noted that many of the Coptic Christian minorities he met believe the United States supports the Muslim Brotherhood's vicious rule there:

"I was told people think the United States is developing relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood because it believes the party is going to remain in power," Wolf said. "[T]he feeling is that as long as the Brotherhood protects the United States' interests in the region, it can act with impunity within its borders."

Such sentiments are increasingly common in Egypt. Protestors against Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Cairo stood outside the Egyptian Foreign ministry, and accused the U.S. of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.  The leadership of the primary Muslim Brotherhood opposition, the National Salvation Front, refused to meet with Kerry, citing his "pro-Morsi stance." And U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson has been repeatedly accused of leading an effort to transform Egypt "into Pakistan,"  which is to say, a militarized, hardline-Islamist state. For his trip to Cairo, Kerry brought with him news of the release of $250 million in aid for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-led government, a figure which would have been larger still had Congress not intervened.

Nor are the Egyptian opposition the only ones convinced that America has become the strongest ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, or their even more violent Islamist brethren. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently accused the U.S. of partnering with the Taliban in a cynical strategy to prolong the military campaign in Afghanistan.  Karzai's statement is ridiculous on its face since it's difficult to give credence to any argument in which the Obama Administration appears anxious to remain in Afghanistan.

But given the repeated U.S. efforts to conduct negotiations with the Taliban, grant them an embassy,  and resist declaring them terrorists, one wonders if Karzai is quite as far off the mark as an objective observer would think he would be. Even if Karzai were speaking to a domestic audience only, shouldn't the idea that the U.S. is partnering with the Taliban be so laughable as to be completely inconceivable even among isolated Afghan tribal peoples? 

And, of course, if the idea of the U.S. collaborating with the Taliban should be considered as likely as flying pigs, then the idea that, in Syria, the U.S. is actively arming Jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda-affiliates, should be an idea popular with only the tinfoil hat crowd.

But increasingly it's not. 

As long time specialist on Syria, Barry Rubin, notes:

The United States is helping arm and perhaps helping to train radical Islamist guerrillas who want a Sharia state in Syria, who believe Israel should be wiped off the map, and who may soon be murdering and oppressing Christians and other groups in Syria itself.

Author of the Long War Journal, and an authority on Al Qaeda, Bill Roggio agrees:

The State Department announced that it would provide $60 million in direct aid to the Syrian Opposition Coalition, an alliance of Syrian groups that has come out in support of the Al Nusrah Front after the US designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and al Qaeda in Iraq's affiliate in Syria in December 2012.

The struggle for Syria is becoming a repeat of the prior situation in Libya.  There, the U.S. provided assistance, including air cover, for Libyan rebels with openly admitted Al Qaeda ties. And we continue to reap the consequence0efits"  of that decision today from Benghazi to Mali. Now, the U.S. is doing the same for the Al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian groups.

Apropos the concerns of the protesting Egyptians, not only does U.S. policy risk turning Egypt into Pakistan, but increasingly, in our own way, we are turning our own country into Pakistan. We are, objectively speaking, supporting Islamic fundamentalists, and yes, even terrorists with the one hand, while opposing them with the other. We have transformed ourselves, in the span of a decade, from a nation that declares, "You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists," to a nation that is credibly accused of arming terrorists. 

And as in Pakistan, there is perhaps some room for debate over whether this schizophrenic policy is due largely to an increasingly incompetent bureaucracy (of the sort that invites a virulent twitter anti-Semite to be awarded a women's rights award) or if it is by Machiavellian design.

But there's no question over what gave rise to the increasing belief that the United States is backing the Muslim Brotherhood over religious minorities in Egypt, providing aid and comfort to the Taliban, or supporting violent jihad in Syria and Libya. What gave them that idea? We did.

Kyle Shideler is the Director of Research and Communications at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (www.emetonline.org).

Important overseas populations are drawing the conclusion that the Obama administration is quietly realigning itself in the Middle East, toward the Islamists.

Recently returning from a visit to Egypt, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) noted that many of the Coptic Christian minorities he met believe the United States supports the Muslim Brotherhood's vicious rule there:

"I was told people think the United States is developing relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood because it believes the party is going to remain in power," Wolf said. "[T]he feeling is that as long as the Brotherhood protects the United States' interests in the region, it can act with impunity within its borders."

Such sentiments are increasingly common in Egypt. Protestors against Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Cairo stood outside the Egyptian Foreign ministry, and accused the U.S. of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.  The leadership of the primary Muslim Brotherhood opposition, the National Salvation Front, refused to meet with Kerry, citing his "pro-Morsi stance." And U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson has been repeatedly accused of leading an effort to transform Egypt "into Pakistan,"  which is to say, a militarized, hardline-Islamist state. For his trip to Cairo, Kerry brought with him news of the release of $250 million in aid for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-led government, a figure which would have been larger still had Congress not intervened.

Nor are the Egyptian opposition the only ones convinced that America has become the strongest ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, or their even more violent Islamist brethren. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently accused the U.S. of partnering with the Taliban in a cynical strategy to prolong the military campaign in Afghanistan.  Karzai's statement is ridiculous on its face since it's difficult to give credence to any argument in which the Obama Administration appears anxious to remain in Afghanistan.

But given the repeated U.S. efforts to conduct negotiations with the Taliban, grant them an embassy,  and resist declaring them terrorists, one wonders if Karzai is quite as far off the mark as an objective observer would think he would be. Even if Karzai were speaking to a domestic audience only, shouldn't the idea that the U.S. is partnering with the Taliban be so laughable as to be completely inconceivable even among isolated Afghan tribal peoples? 

And, of course, if the idea of the U.S. collaborating with the Taliban should be considered as likely as flying pigs, then the idea that, in Syria, the U.S. is actively arming Jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda-affiliates, should be an idea popular with only the tinfoil hat crowd.

But increasingly it's not. 

As long time specialist on Syria, Barry Rubin, notes:

The United States is helping arm and perhaps helping to train radical Islamist guerrillas who want a Sharia state in Syria, who believe Israel should be wiped off the map, and who may soon be murdering and oppressing Christians and other groups in Syria itself.

Author of the Long War Journal, and an authority on Al Qaeda, Bill Roggio agrees:

The State Department announced that it would provide $60 million in direct aid to the Syrian Opposition Coalition, an alliance of Syrian groups that has come out in support of the Al Nusrah Front after the US designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and al Qaeda in Iraq's affiliate in Syria in December 2012.

The struggle for Syria is becoming a repeat of the prior situation in Libya.  There, the U.S. provided assistance, including air cover, for Libyan rebels with openly admitted Al Qaeda ties. And we continue to reap the consequence0efits"  of that decision today from Benghazi to Mali. Now, the U.S. is doing the same for the Al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian groups.

Apropos the concerns of the protesting Egyptians, not only does U.S. policy risk turning Egypt into Pakistan, but increasingly, in our own way, we are turning our own country into Pakistan. We are, objectively speaking, supporting Islamic fundamentalists, and yes, even terrorists with the one hand, while opposing them with the other. We have transformed ourselves, in the span of a decade, from a nation that declares, "You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists," to a nation that is credibly accused of arming terrorists. 

And as in Pakistan, there is perhaps some room for debate over whether this schizophrenic policy is due largely to an increasingly incompetent bureaucracy (of the sort that invites a virulent twitter anti-Semite to be awarded a women's rights award) or if it is by Machiavellian design.

But there's no question over what gave rise to the increasing belief that the United States is backing the Muslim Brotherhood over religious minorities in Egypt, providing aid and comfort to the Taliban, or supporting violent jihad in Syria and Libya. What gave them that idea? We did.

Kyle Shideler is the Director of Research and Communications at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (www.emetonline.org).