The Squabble among the Gulf States Is Complex. Devising a U.S. Response Need Not Be

July 13 2017

As the spat between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt on the other shows no sign of abating, John Bolton suggests policies that can help resolve the dispute while advancing American interests:

Confronting the twin issues of radical Islamic terrorism and the ayatollahs’ malign regime in Iran are central not only to the Arab disputants but to the United States as well. In addition to providing our good offices to the Gulf Cooperation Council members, the Trump administration should take two critical steps to restore unity and stability among these key allies.

First, the State Department should declare both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to be foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs), thus triggering the penalties and sanctions required by law when such a declaration is made. Both groups meet the statutory definition because of their violence and continuing threats against Americans. . . .

The Muslim Brotherhood’s defenders argue that it is far from monolithic; that many of its “affiliates” are in fact entirely harmless; and that a blanket declaration would actually harm our anti-jihadist efforts. Even taking these objections as true for the sake of argument, they counsel a careful delineation among elements of the Brotherhood. Those that, in whole or part, meet the statutory FTO definition should be designated; those that do not can be spared, at least in the absence of new information. The Brotherhood’s alleged complexity is an argument for being precise in the FTO designations, not for avoiding any designations whatsoever.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Arab governments already target the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, but Qatar, [which actively supports it], does not. . . . Once Washington acts, however, it will be much harder for Qatar or anyone else to argue that the Brotherhood is just a collection of charitable souls performing humanitarian missions.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran, Muslim Brotherhood, Politics & Current Affairs, Qatar, U.S. Foreign policy

The EU Must Stop Tolerating Hizballah

July 21 2017

Tuesday was the fifth anniversary of the bombing in the Bulgarian city of Burgas, which left five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian dead. After the bombing, the EU designated the “military wing” of Hizballah, which carried out the attack, a terrorist organization. But unlike the U.S., Egypt, and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the EU doesn’t apply this designation to the Hizballah’s “political wing.” Toby Dershowitz and Benjamin Weinthal write:

[T]he EU needs to . . . recognize, as Hizballah [itself] does, that the organization isn’t bifurcated into political and military “wings.” . . . Hizballah’s terror-financing activities and its critical role in the Syrian war should be enough for the EU to deport Hizballah members from its 28 member countries. Anything short of full designation would enable Hizballah to continue fundraising and operating its front companies. Last year, for instance, . . . German authorities uncovered a money-laundering operation in Europe that amassed nearly €1 million ($1.1 million) a week for more than two years, money that Europol and the U.S. Treasury Department says went to fund Hizballah.

Membership recruitment in Europe is also a significant tool for Hizballah. According to a recent German intelligence report, there are 950 active Hizballah members in Germany. This calls into question the effectiveness of the EU’s 2013 sanctions, which were imposed only on Hizballah’s “military wing.” . . .

Should Europe maintain the status quo . . . it does so at its own peril. European security will continue to be put at risk. And Hizballah will be given the signal that Europe is far from serious about countering terrorism.

Read more at FDD

More about: Bulgaria, European Union, Hizballah, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism