December 9, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 4348

Coptic Liberal: The Obama Administration Is Supporting the Islamists in the Middle East at the Expense of the Secular Democrats

December 9, 2011
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 4348

In a recent article, Egyptian Coptic liberal 'Issam 'Abdallah attacked the Obama administration for supporting the Islamist forces in the Middle East "deliberately and in an organized manner," rather than giving its support to the secular democrats. He said that the administration had allowed the Islamist lobbies in the US, chiefly those of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Iran, to gain enough clout over the years to influence US Middle East policy. These same lobbies, he said, were waging all-out war against the Arab liberals and anyone else who stood up for democracy and freedom in the Middle East.

Following is a translation of the article:[1]

Why Do the West and the US Support the Islamists instead of the Secular Democrats in the Middle East?

"The most tragic and dangerous means of oppression [being used] against the revolutions in the Arab world is not internationally forbidden arms or the Arab dictatorships, like [that of] Mubarak [in Egypt], Al-Qadhafi [in Libya], Bin 'Ali [in Tunisia], Saleh [in Yemen], and Al-Assad [in Syria], but that being used by the Islamist lobby in the US – or, more precisely, 'the Islamist lobbies,' which are the most influential and powerful [lobbies] in Washington.

"The question which we as liberals in the Middle East have been asking ourselves ever since January 2011 is: Why doesn't the West in general and the US in particular support the goals of our revolutions and the aspirations of our civil societies? Why doesn't the West firmly support the secular democrats in the region? Why do the governments in Brussels and Washington insist on entering into partnerships with the Islamists in the Middle East, rather than with their natural allies, which would strengthen secular democracy?

"We have come to understand, like [the rest of] the enlightened people in the world, that the Obama administration is resolved to support the new tyrannical forces, which have come to power by way of 'formal democracy.' The MB in Egypt, the Islamist Al-Nahda party in Tunisia, the Al-'Adala party in Morocco, and the transnational Islamist militias (Al-Qaeda) in Libya were supported by Washington deliberately and in an organized manner, at the expense of the liberal and secular forces in the region."

The Lobbies of the MB and Iran Have Succeeded in Directing US Middle East Policy

"In the US, it is 'interests' that determine foreign policy. There are groups that pressure [the government] by all means possible in order to achieve their goals... One of the strongest pressure groups in the US is the MB, which for many years now has constituted the largest lobby. [The MB] has gained many privileges and opportunities within the American administration under Obama, and has succeeded in directing American policy vis-à-vis the Arab world.

"Among the highly influential advisors to [the Obama administration] are Dalia Mogahed, known for her great empathy toward the MB, and her assistant, Georgetown University lecturer and professor John Esposito. On the other hand, there is also an Iranian Islamist lobby, whose great influence was seen just recently and which has begun influencing US policy on Iran and Hizbullah in the [Middle East] region. The Islamist lobbies in the US stand out for their ability to wage political and media wars against their liberal enemies – the [liberal] Arabs, Middle Easterners, and Middle East groups in America. This is the most important battle in terms of influencing Washington's policy in the Arab world.

"The idea, simply, is that harming the Middle East liberals in Washington, who are trying to win [US] support for civil society organizations in the Middle East, means that you are capable of influencing the flow of the American administration's funds, and of redirecting them from supporting these liberals to supporting the Islamists in the Middle East.

"What distracts [general] attention from this brutal war being waged by the Islamist lobbies in the US is that it did not happen all of sudden, but began when the Cold War ended and continued during all the decades since, until it could reap its fruits [during] the Obama administration and thanks to the impetus of the Arab Spring.

"Using CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is headed by the pro-Hamas Nihad 'Awad, as well as ISNA [Islamic Society of North America], MPAC [Muslim Public Affairs Council], and other organizations, the MB is waging a policy war against those representing the faction of liberal Arabs and moderate Muslims, who have been prevented from bringing their issue before American public opinion. Likewise, the Iranian lobby represented by NIAC, the National Iranian American Council, headed by Trita Parsi, has done brutal harm to the Iranian diaspora.

"Since 1990, CAIR and its supporters have attacked the Copts in Egypt, the people of South Sudan, the Lebanese, the Syrian reformists, the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, and the Muslim oppositionists for the orientations [they propagate] in the US. The MB uses the American media outlets to vilify any book, article, or documentary film that supports freedoms and secular democracy in the Middle East."

The Islamist Lobbies Are Waging All-Out War against Anyone Who Advocates Democracy in the Middle East

"Due to this brutal and deliberate war, the American public has not been given a sufficient chance to learn more about the true orientations of the liberal youth in the [Middle East] region. This has led [the American public] to think that all the Muslims and Arabs in the Middle East belong to a strange group among humankind that does not value freedom.

"I remember when Shawqi Karas, head of the Coptic American Association, was harassed in the late 90s by Islamist activists, after speaking in the US about the Mubarak regime and the MB, and [I recall] how they threatened to dismiss him from the university where he taught. The priest Keith Roderick was similarly attacked after putting together a coalition of more than 50 Muslim rights groups from across the world. They likewise attacked a Muslim leader known for his civil orientations, after he found the courage to oppose the MB's line in America, saying that the views of the Muslim jihadis – who are to blame for the disasters in the [Middle East] region and the world – draw on [the ideology of] the MB and its writings...

"The paradox is that from 1990 on and [especially] during the years following September 11, 2001, the dictatorial regimes in the region supported the efforts of the Islamist lobbies. Mubarak, [Sudan's] Al-Bashir, Al-Qadhafi, Al-Assad, and the Iranian regime all supported the 'Islamophobia' campaign in the West – which was essentially run by CAIR and its Iranian counterpart [NIAC] – against the liberal oppositionists, and accused the latter of collaborating with the West by calling for secular democracy in the region.

"Not even American congressmen were spared attacks by the Islamist lobbies – including Democrats Tom Lantos, Eliot Engel, Howard Berman, Gary Ackerman, and Senator Joe Lieberman; Republicans Frank Wolf, Chris Smith, Trent Franks; and Republican Senators John McCain, Rick Santorum, and Sam Brownback – due to their efforts to pass legislation in support of democracy and freedom in the Middle East. CAIR and its allies also attacked those intellectuals who spoke out against the oppression of secularists and minorities in the Arab world and Iran.

"Prominent among those [intellectuals] attacked were Nina Shea and Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute, and American Anti-Slavery Group cofounder Dr. Charles Jacobs, who condemned the Sudanese regime for its barbaric crimes. Today, the Islamist lobbies are leading an all-out campaign against anyone who advises the American administration in favor of democracy in the [Middle East] region. For instance, a malicious war was waged on several websites against Professor Walid Phares by Nihad 'Awad and CAIR, and by Hizbullah and MB supporters..."


[1], December 7, 2011.

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