Time for the US to stop arming its enemies
No one expects the Trump administration to reverse the disastrous effects of the Obama-supported Muslim Brotherhood's hijacking of the "Arab Spring" in the Middle East that increased the regional contest for supremacy in the Islamic world. The rivalry has intensified between the Sunni camp led by Saudi Arabia and the Shiite camp led by Iran – each with its pet terrorist organizations.
It's hard to overstate how much damage was done by the Obama administration's misjudgment that Sunni jihadists and Shia Iran were somehow friendly to us and could be useful tools of American policy. But using jihadi groups claiming to be less violent than al-Qaeda and ISIS resulted in the Benghazi massacre of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and the destabilization of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria, and elsewhere.
The "Stop Arming Terrorists Act" (SATA) (H.R. 608), which was sponsored by Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), would help curtail U.S. assistance to Sunni and Shia jihadists, who would gladly use it against Americans, not only against each other.
Rep. Gabbard points out in her introductory statement for the bill:
Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaida, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaida or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaida, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham, and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.
One of the unintended consequences of nation-building and open-ended intervention is American funds and weapons benefiting those who hate us. This legislation will strengthen our foreign policy, enhance our national security, and safeguard our resources.
According to John Eibner, the CEO of Christian Solidarity International: "No one doubts the complexity of the security challenges facing the United States in the Middle East and worldwide. However, under no circumstances is giving money and weapons to al-Qaida and other groups the U.S. government knows to be terrorists and their collaborators a legitimate option or a valid use of Americans' tax dollars." This, unfortunately, has happened again and again.
In addition to the SATA, Congress should restrict U.S. government financial and other material support to Iran-supported Shia groups, notably Hezb'allah in Lebanon. While the so-called "military wing" of Hezb'allah has been designated by the U.S. as terrorist, its "political wing" is free to operate in Lebanon. Members of the Hezb'allah-led bloc in the Lebanese Parliament served until recently and wield influence in academic and financial institutions.
The case he cited was that of the American University in Beirut (AUB). On March 23, 2017, the settlement penalty of $700,000 against AUB was announced by the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York "for alleged False Claims Act (FCA) violations arising from OFAC sanctions violations, including false certifications of economic sanctions compliance made by AUB to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in connection with U.S. Government grants. AUB acknowledged that it provided journalism training workshops attended by representatives of two designated Hezb'allah media entities, and separately promoted a designated Hezb'allah construction company through its inclusion on a publicly accessible online database. AUB agreed to pay $700,000 and strengthen its compliance program to resolve the civil action." However, this settlement is unlikely to prevent that some of the 2017 U.S. planned aid of $233,510M from going to Hezb'allah and its ilk.
The SATA, which already has bipartisan co-sponsorship from Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Peter Welsh (D-Vt.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Thomas Garrett (R-Va.), Paul Gosar (R-Va.), and Scott Perry (R-Penn.). It should be supported by all.