Keith Ellison Met with the Iranian President and Louis Farrakhan. Where’s the Scandal?

Feb. 15 2018

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Keith Ellison—a prominent Minnesota congressman and now also the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)—attended a dinner in 2013 hosted by Hassan Rouhani, who had recently become Iran’s president. Also in attendance were the Nation of Islam’s leader Louis Farrakhan and two other congressmen. Sohrab Ahmari comments:

[The meeting] should be a major political scandal. It involves an anti-American government, a prominent member of Congress, and a far-right group that traffics in anti-Semitism, homophobia, and conspiracy theories. . . . Nearly a week later, [however], the prestige press is still giving the Journal exposé the chirping-crickets treatment. . . .

The episode raises serious questions about Ellison’s judgment and his real ideological convictions. Ellison has spent much of his political career running away from Farrakhan [and the Nation of Islam]. His ties to the group almost derailed his first congressional run, in 2006. After it emerged that he had worked with the Nation of Islam for at least eighteen months in the 1990s, Ellison wrote a letter to the Jewish community distancing himself from Farrakhan and denouncing his “anti-Semitic statements and actions.” Ellison reiterated his opposition to the group’s “anti-Semitism” and “homophobia” in 2016 when he contested the DNC leadership.

But revulsion at his former associates in the Nation of Islam didn’t stop Ellison from breaking bread with Farrakhan in 2013—bread that was provided by the Tehran regime. So which is the real Ellison: the one who drafts earnest letters of apology to Jewish groups? Or the one who, as recently as 2013, saw fit to dine with Farrakhan under Iranian auspices?

The Ellison-Farrakhan-Rouhani shindig is also a reminder that progressive Democrats had no compunction about hobnobbing with representatives of an anti-American terror state.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Democrats, Iran, Louis Farrakhan, Media, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Politics

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy