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FOREIGN POLICY

Jed Babbin:Certifiably wrong about Iran’s compliance It’s hard to believe, and much less to ‘certify’ that Iran is living up to its sworn obligations

During President Trump’s campaign he said that Mr. Obama’s 2015 nuclear weapons deal with Iran was the “worst deal ever.” Although there are many diplomatic deals vying for that title, the deal engineered by Mr. Obama is at least one of the worst ever for two reasons.

First, it essentially guarantees that the world’s principal terrorist nation will obtain nuclear weapons either during the fifteen-year term of the deal (stealthily) or openly soon after it ends. Second, because it does precisely nothing to limitIran’s development and production of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The Trump administration has certified to Congress that Iran is in compliance with the deal (the “Joint Cooperative Plan of Action”) twice, first in April and again last week. Those certifications are required every 90 days by the “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act” (INARA), the anti-constitutional law that permitted Mr. Obama the ability to claim Senate approval of the deal without senate ratification.

Mr. Trump reportedly considered telling Secretary of State Tillerson to not make the July certification but decided not to. It would have been far better if the president had blocked both certifications.

The problems that should have blocked the certifications are found within INARA’s terms or are directly derivative of them.

INARA required that within five days of reaching an agreement with Iran, the president shall send Congress, “the full details of the agreement, including all supporting materials and any classified annexes to the agreement.”

That was never done. The Senate’s duty to object to that failure, thereby killing the deal, was ignored.

Because of the Senate’s failure we don’t know what the so-called agreement actually provides. For almost two years it has been entirely clear that secret side agreements were made with Iran that the U.S. wasn’t allowed to see. At least one of them provides that Iran can self-inspect the Parchin nuclear site which is believed to be the center of the Iranian nuclear weapons program. (Unsurprisingly, the self-inspections tell the IAEA that all is just peachy at Parchin.)

Our Relationship with Saudi Arabia Is an Embarrassment It also has very real strategic and moral costs. By Michael Brendan Dougherty

When he was 17, five years ago, Mujtaba al-Sweikat committed the “crime” of participating in a pro-democracy rally in Saudi Arabia. Instead of attending Western Michigan University, as he had planned to do that fall, he was put in prison. Reports are now leaking out of Saudi Arabia that al-Sweikat will soon be beheaded for his transgression. It’s just the latest reminder that Saudi Arabia is America’s worst best friend.

The U.S. does get something out of its relationship with Saudi Arabia; there is real intelligence sharing, and the Kingdom has used its power over OPEC to drive oil prices down when we want to humiliate Russia or accomplish some other goal. That’s not nothing. Nor will I pretend that a global superpower can do the business of horse-trading only with saints and scholars. But there are real costs to our relationship with the Saudis, and I’m not sure that our policy elites are reckoning with them at all.

A day will come when we need friends with whom we share a real civilizational affinity, and our relationship with the Saudis will hurt us on that day. Saudi-funded mosques and preachers flow into the nations of our friends and allies, preaching hatred and occasionally terror. We often talk about how nationalism is a response to the globalization of commerce. But it’s also a response to the globalization of Saudi Arabia’s favorite forms of Islam. Syrian refugees come to Germany and find Saudi-funded mosques that are far more extreme than anything they knew at home. Saudi-funded clerics are a major engine of extremism, and of the nationalist backlash it produces, from France to India.

Saudi actions in this regard are so embarrassing and brazen that Western nations won’t even let themselves be heard discussing them intelligibly. Last Week, U.K. home secretary Amber Rudd refused to publish her own government’s delayed report on the funding of extremist groups. Even in the press releases, the government was too ashamed to admit the fact that everyone knew to be in them: Saudi Arabia funnels money to the extremist groups that threaten Europe with terrorism.

There is a major strategic cost to our alliance with the Saudis, whether anyone cares to admit it or not. The U.S.–Saudi preference for regime change and demotic movements (no matter how loathsome) has been a gift to extremists everywhere. It’s destabilized several Middle Eastern countries and contributed to a refugee crisis that is reordering the politics and society of Europe, while also visiting terrorism on our historic allies. By contrast, the Russian and Iranian strategy of siding with sovereign states (no matter how loathsome) so long as they represent predictable national interests seems rational.

Can Trump Lead the Way to Regime Change in Iran? by Hassan Mahmoudi

What is needed now is a push for regime change, a watering of the seeds of popular resistance that are again budding — after Obama abandoned the Iranian people in 2009, when they took to the streets to protest the stranglehold of the ayatollahs.

American leadership expert John C. Maxwell defines a leader as “one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” During his two terms in the highest office in the world, former U.S. President Barack Obama failed at all three, with disastrous consequences.

There is no realm in which Obama’s lack of leadership was more glaring than that of foreign policy, particularly in relation to the Middle East. His combination of action and inaction — pushing through the nuclear deal with Iran at all costs, while simultaneously adopting a stance of “patience” with and indifference to Tehran’s sponsorship of global terrorism and foothold in Syria — served no purpose other than to destabilize the region and weaken America’s position.

While hotly pursuing the nuclear accord — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and U.S.-led world powers in July 2015 — Obama enabled the regime in Tehran to assist Syrian President Bashar Assad in starving and slaughtering his people (with chemical weapons, among others) into submission. Meanwhile, thanks to Obama’s passivity, and the $1.7 billion his administration transferred to Tehran upon the inking of the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic was able to dispatch its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to recruit and train Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and Syria, as well as militias in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan.

Today, two years after the signing of the JCPOA, and six months into the presidency of Donald Trump, there is a growing rift between America and Europe over implementation of the deal, which officially went into effect in January 2016. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has been wavering on whether to remain committed to the deal, which his administration and members of Congress claim has been violated repeatedly by Iran. The U.S. also has maintained certain sanctions, over Iran’s ballistic-missile tests, human-rights abuses and sponsorship of global terrorism.

European countries, however, have taken a very different approach, pointing to International Atomic Energy Organization reports confirming Iran’s compliance, and rushing to do business in and with Tehran.

At a ceremony on July 14, 2017 to mark the anniversary of the deal, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called the JCPOA a “success for multilateral diplomacy that has proven to work and deliver,” adding, “This deal belongs to the international community, having been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, that expects all sides to keep the commitments they took two years ago”

Meanwhile, when reports emerged about Trump being “likely” to confirm on July 17 that Iran has been complying with the deal — and because the law requires that both the president and secretary of state re-certify the deal every three months — four Republican senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with a copy to Trump, urging him not to do so.

The Iran-Deal Swindle We thought we were the ones buying time. By Elliot Kaufman

Two years on, the Iranian nuclear deal is a failure.

Some will surely protest that this cannot be; on Monday, the Trump administration just indicated that it plans to certify Iranian compliance to Congress. But that certification does not mean what it may seem to.

It certainly does not indicate that Iran has been in perfect compliance with the deal. Iran has already exceeded its limits on uranium enrichment and production of heavy water on several occasions. Furthermore, a series of recent German intelligence reports discovered Iranian efforts to procure technology that “can be used to develop plutonium for nuclear weapons.” One report concluded there was “no evidence” of the “complete about-face in Iran’s atomic policies” that had been hoped for.

But of course there’s no evidence of that. This was the central flaw of the Iran deal: There was never any reason to suspect that the nature or aims of the Iranian regime had changed. Iran of course has scaled back its nuclear advances, but the Supreme Leader and his cronies still seek to obtain a nuclear weapon to fortify their regime, advance Iranian regional hegemony, and threaten Israel. Until this changes, the Iranians can safely be expected to use any deal to better pursue those aims. This is why it matters when H. R. McMaster, director of the National Security Council, explains that Iran has violated the spirit of the agreement.

So why does Trump plan to certify compliance? One debilitating weakness of the Iran deal is that there are no punishment mechanisms short of re-imposing sanctions, at which point Iran can reasonably argue that the deal is dead and it is free to pursue whatever nuclear advances it wants.

The deal provides a process whereby America can allege misconduct and force the U.N. Security Council to vote on a resolution. This resolution would maintain the deal’s suspension of sanctions, so any veto — including the U.S.’s own — would trigger the reestablishment of the legal basis for sanctions. But there are several hurdles to getting the sanctions to “snap back” as promised.

As Eric Lorber and Peter Feaver wrote in Foreign Policy, “An effective sanctions regime consists of a legal basis, the institutional capacity to implement the sanctions, and the political will to carry it through. This course of action only provides for the first.” Indeed, if the sanctions are rejected by Russia or opposed by European allies eager to continue trading with Iran, both of which are likely in the absence of truly flagrant Iranian violations, the sanctions regime will not be effective. It might not even get off the ground and certainly will fail to pressure Iran the way our previous sanctions regime, which took a decade to ratchet up, did. That’s why formally alleging Iranian misconduct is extremely risky: It would unleash Iran and offer only weak and disunited sanctions.

This means that incremental Iranian cheating will likely continue to go unpunished. The best we can do is remain neutral, neither certifying compliance nor alleging noncompliance. But even with this meek third route, declined by the Trump administration this time, the deal leaves us helpless to stop Iran from slowly — never radically — preparing itself to push for a nuclear weapon once the deal’s restrictions wear off in ten and 15 years.

That’s why the deal will be certified. But why is it a failure? Some might say that pushing back a confrontation with Iran by ten or 15 years is a major accomplishment. We’ve bought ourselves time, claimed the deal’s advocates, over and over again.

Philip Gordon and Richard Nephew, two of the Obama-administration officials who negotiated the Iran deal, now repeat this mantra in The Atlantic. The deal was supposed to “buy time for potential changes in Iranian politics and foreign policy,” they write. But have we actually bought ourselves time?

What if it is Iran that has been buying time, using the sanctions relief to put itself in a stronger position for an eventual confrontation? What if, at the end of the Iran deal, Iran is stronger economically, geopolitically, and domestically, while we find ourselves with less power in the region and bereft of an international sanctions coalition?

Then, you might say, we got swindled.

Trump Administration Slaps Iran With Additional Sanctions Sanctioning of more than a dozen people, entities follows decision to certify Iran’s compliance with nuclear deal By Felicia Schwartz

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration on Tuesday leveled more sanctions against Iran, targeting its elite military unit and ballistic missile program in a move that heightened tensions between the two countries and raised new questions about the fate of the 2015 international nuclear deal.

The sanctions came after the administration told Congress late Monday that Iran was continuing to comply with the 2015 international nuclear agreement, a notification that kept the accord in place for now. But that determination came after an intense debate within the administration over whether to certify Iran’s compliance, according to officials familiar with the discussions.

“This administration will continue to aggressively target Iran’s malign activity, including their ongoing state support of terrorism, ballistic missile program, and human-rights abuses,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in imposing the new sanctions Tuesday.

Referring to the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mr. Mnuchin said, “We will continue to target the IRGC and pressure Iran to cease its ballistic missile program and malign activities in the region.”

The Trump administration is reviewing the nuclear agreement and its policy toward Iran, a move that has European allies worried about the fate of the deal.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. would meet its commitments as the review progressed and would press Iran to do the same. The U.S. will next have to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal in October, and some officials expect the review will be completed by then.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the new sanctions, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Iran will retaliate by placing its own sanctions on American entities, the ministry said, adding that those targeted would be named soon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tuesday’s sanctions “poison the atmosphere.”

“That’s what they’re designed to do, actually,” he said in an interview with CBS. “They’re not designed to help anybody, because they know that none of them ever travel to the United States or will have an account in the U.S.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the 2015 nuclear agreement is formally known, was championed by the Obama administration as a way to obtain Iran’s agreement to significantly cut back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. CONTINUE AT SITE

Still A Bad Deal by Ilan Berman

Last Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy achievement: the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that agreement was intended as a solution to Iran’s persistent nuclear ambitions, and as a vehicle to reboot the Iranian regime’s relationship with the world.

Two years on, it’s clear that the dead has indeed been transformative – for the Iranian regime, at least. For America and its allies, however, it has expanded the gravity of the contemporary threat posed by the Islamic Republic.

That’s because, although the accord between Iran and the so-called P5+1 powers was intended to be tactical in nature (dealing with just one aspect of the Iranian regime’s rogue behavior), the benefits that have been conferred to Iran as a result have been both extensive and strategic in nature. Most directly, as a result of the deal, Iran has gained access to some $100 billion or more in previously escrowed oil revenue – equivalent to roughly a quarter of the country’s total annual GDP. That, coupled with a surge in post-sanctions trade and Iran’s reintegration into various financial institutions, has set the country on the path to sustained economic recovery.

But the agreement has not succeeded in altering the behavior of Iran’s ayatollahs, as the Obama administration had fervently hoped. To the contrary, it has helped to reinvigorate the global ambitions of Iran’s radical regime. After laboring for years under international sanctions and with limited means to make its foreign policy vision a reality, the Islamic Republic is now in the throes of a landmark strategic expansion.

Long moribund as a result of international sanctions, the Iranian regime’s military modernization efforts have kicked into high gear, entailing plans to acquire tens of billions of dollars in new arms from suppliers such as Russia and China, as well as a significant expansion of its national cyber capabilities. Over time, this drive can be expected to significantly strengthen the Iranian regime’s strategic capabilities, as well as the potential threat that it can pose to U.S. and allied forces in the Middle Eastern theater.

Iran’s regional footprint in is also deepening. In Syria, Iran – working together with its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah – has played a key role in organizing pro-regime militias and coordinating the deployment of more than 50,000 pro-regime foreign fighters from Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

Trump Administration Again Certifies Iran Is Complying With Nuclear Deal Announcement delayed several hours by internal administration debate by By Felicia Schwartz

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration said it notified Congress late Monday that Iran is complying with the international nuclear deal reached two years ago, but the fate of the agreement remains uncertain as it is still under review.

The notification came despite a push by some within the administration to refuse to certify Iran’s compliance, people familiar with the deliberations said. That push began around midday and lasted into the evening.

The Trump administration has been reviewing the Iran deal for several months. President Donald Trump has attacked the agreement, reached in 2015, as a “terrible deal” for the U.S.

Despite the certification, the Trump administration will disclose on Tuesday that it is leveling additional sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program and other behavior it considers destabilizing, senior administration officials said.

“Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the of the JCPOA,” a senior administration official said Monday evening, using an acronym to refer to the nuclear deal.

The official said the administration intends to pursue a strategy “that will address the totality of Iran’s malign behavior and not narrowly focus” on Iran’s nuclear program.

A second administration official said the U.S. will be “working with allies to build a case for serious flaws in agreement, while also at the same time looking for ways to more strictly enforce the deal.”

Officials said they intend to make sure Iran is complying with a “stricter interpretation” of the deal than that of the Obama administration.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, speaking in New York on Monday, said the Trump administration was sending contradictory signals and Iran doesn’t know “which to interpret in what way.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Trump Must Withdraw From Iran Nuclear Deal – Now by John R. Bolton

Tehran’s violations of the deal have become public, including: exceeding limits on uranium enrichment and production of heavy water; illicit efforts at international procurement of dual-use nuclear and missile technology; and obstructing international inspection efforts (which were insufficient to begin with).

There is ominous talk of America “not living up to its word.” This is nonsense. The president’s primary obligation is to keep American citizens safe from foreign threats. Should President George W. Bush have kept the United States in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, rather than withdraw to allow the creation of a limited national missile-defense shield to protect against rogue-state nuclear attacks?

Care to bet how close Tehran — and North Korea — now are? Consider the costs of betting wrong.

For the second time during the Trump administration, the State Department has reportedly decided to certify that Iran is complying with its 2015 nuclear deal with the Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

If true, it will be the administration’s second unforced error regarding the JCPOA. Over the past two years, considerable information detailing Tehran’s violations of the deal have become public, including: exceeding limits on uranium enrichment and production of heavy water; illicit efforts at international procurement of dual-use nuclear and missile technology; and obstructing international inspection efforts (which were insufficient to begin with).

Since international verification is fatally inadequate, and our own intelligence far from perfect, these violations undoubtedly only scratch the surface of the ayatollahs’ inexhaustible mendaciousness.

Certification is an unforced error because the applicable statute (the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, or INARA) requires neither certifying Iranian compliance nor certifying Iranian noncompliance. Paula DeSutter and I previously explained that INARA requires merely that the Secretary of State (to whom President Obama delegated the task) “determine…whether [he] is able to certify” compliance (emphasis added). The secretary can satisfy the statute simply by “determining” that he is not prepared for now to certify compliance and that U.S. policy is under review.

This is a policy of true neutrality while the review continues. Certifying compliance is far from neutral. Indeed, it risks damaging American credibility should a decision subsequently be made to abrogate the deal.

What Has Trump’s Policy Actually Been Toward Russia? So far the Trump administration has pursued a tough-on-Russia foreign policy. By Elliot Kaufman

Anyone who knows anything about President Trump knows that there’s something up with him and Russia. Yesterday, Donald Trump Jr. basically admitted to at least attempted collusion. And there is the long list of often embarrassingly positive statements Trump Sr. has made about the Russian president. Frank Bruni compiled them in a recent column for the New York Times. Yet there is something missing from Bruni’s article, and often, from the larger narrative about the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russians: a single mention of policy.

That omission is telling. Trump’s comments might be suggestive, and his campaign team may well have sought and even used anti-Clinton information from Russian sources, but his policies have thus far been revealing—and not of any particular softness on Russia. Just the opposite: Where Obama was weak, the Trump administration has pursued a tough-on-Russia foreign policy.

Take Trump’s recent trip to Poland, a nation that has on occasion seen Russian troops and never wants to see them again. Look past the noise surrounding Trump’s excellent speech. Instead, focus on the air-defense memorandum signed on Thursday. “The U.S. government has agreed to sell Poland Patriot missiles in the most modern configuration,” Poland’s defense minister Antoni Macierewicz announced. This provides a real measure of Trump’s support for Poland, which is understandably nervous about the Russian Iskander missile system to be deployed in Kaliningrad.

This move also contrasts sharply with the Obama administration’s decision in 2009 to scrap missile-defense plans for Poland and the Czech Republic. Many Poles, including the heroic former president Lech Walesa, interpreted that as an abandonment.

Trump and Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, also discussed American natural-gas shipments to Poland, the first of which arrived only last month. Trump is pushing American and Polish companies to sign a long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal, though he won’t have to push very hard.

This is part of Trump’s strategy to achieve “energy dominance,” as he put it last week. “We will export American energy all around the world,” Trump said. Rick Perry, the U.S. secretary of energy, explained that the plan seeks to counter Russian influence. The goal is to provide vulnerable European nations with an “alternative to Russia” so they can no longer be “held hostage.” Trump echoed these comments in Poland.

This initial memorandum of understanding with Poland is only the plan’s first step. More is planned. As Investors Business Daily notes:

Poland has just built a massive Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) terminal on the Baltic as an entry point for gas from the U.S. and other energy suppliers. What’s more, that terminal is big enough, according to estimates, to replace as much as 80% of Russia’s gas supplies to Poland. All of the Baltic nations — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — are likewise building LNG facilities. Croatia plans to open its own LNG terminal in 2019.

Already, Trump has offered to export American coal to Ukraine, which Russia has long bullied with actual or threatened cuts in natural-gas exports. The other nations at the recent Three Seas Initiative attended by Trump (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria) would like U.S. energy too.

There is perhaps nothing the Russians fear more than American oil and gas production. It has the potential to supplant Russian gas exports, which are crucial to Russia’s coffers as well as its strategic ambitions. The absence of a strong “oil weapon” functioning as both carrot and stick would substantially reduce Russia’s ability to meddle in European affairs. Trump’s initiative, therefore, is poised to protect Europe and weaken Russia.

This is part of why Walter Russell Mead suggested in February that “Trump isn’t sounding like a Russian mole.” If Trump were under Putin’s influence, he would surely be doing everything he could to limit American natural-gas production, reject proposed pipelines, curtail fracking, and impose harsh emissions reduction targets. But Trump has done the opposite. He has withdrawn from the Paris agreement, approved the Keystone pipeline and set about repealing roadblocks to fracking on federal lands. In June, for instance, the Bureau of Land Management announced it would auction off 195,732 acres of federal land in Nevada for fossil-fuel development.

Trouble among America’s Gulf Allies by John R. Bolton

The State Department should declare both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), thus triggering the penalties and sanctions required by law when such a declaration is made.

Those “affiliates” of the Muslim Brotherhood 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.

Qatar can legitimately complain that it is being unfairly singled out. The proper response is not to let Qatar off the hook but to put every other country whose governments or citizens are financing terrorism on the hook.

In recent weeks, governments on the Arabian Peninsula have been having a diplomatic brawl. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain (together with Egypt and other Muslim countries) have put considerable economic and political pressure on Qatar, suspending diplomatic relations and embargoing trade with their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member. Kuwait and Oman, also GCC members, have been mediating the dispute or remaining publicly silent.

The Saudis and their supporters are demanding sweeping changes in Qatari policies, including suspending all financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups; joining the other GCC members in taking a much harder line against the nuclear and terrorist threat from Shia Iran and its proxies; and closing Al Jazeera, the irritating, radical-supporting television and media empire funded by Qatar’s royal family.

The United States’ response so far has been confused. President Trump has vocally supported the Saudi campaign, but the State Department has publicly taken a different view, urging that GCC members resolve their differences quietly.

As with so many Middle East disputes, the issues are complex, and there is considerable underlying history. Of course, if they were easy, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would not be nearly at daggers drawn seemingly overnight.

Washington has palpable interests at stake in this dispute and can make several critical moves to help restore unity among the Arabian governments, even though the issues may seem as exotic to the average American as the Saudi sword dance Trump joined during his recent Middle East trip.

Twin issues to confront

Confronting the twin issues of radical Islamic terrorism and the ayatollahs’ malign regime in Iraq are central not only to the Arab disputants but to the United States as well. In addition to providing our good offices to the GCC 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) as 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 Obama administration’s failure to make the FTO designation has weakened our global anti-terrorist efforts.

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-jihadi 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 whatever.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab governments already target the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization but Qatar does not. That may sound suspicious, but as of now, of course, the United States hasn’t found the resolve to do it either. 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.
A direct terrorist threat

Similarly, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps is a direct terrorist threat that has been killing Americans ever since the IRGC-directed attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in October 1983. The only real argument against naming the IRGC is that so doing would endanger Obama’s 2015 nuclear agreement, given Tehran’s expected response to an FTO determination.

Second, Trump should follow up his successful Riyadh summit by insisting on rapid and comprehensive implementation of the summit’s principal outcome, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI). This center can provide governments across the Muslim world a face-saving mechanism to do what should have been done long ago, namely taking individual and collective steps to dry up terrorist financing.

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, May 21, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

One could write books on the intricate financing that supports international terrorism, and finger-pointing at those responsible could take years. But whether terrorists are financed by governments, directly or indirectly, or by individuals or groups, with or without government knowledge or encouragement, it must all stop. Qatar can legitimately complain that it is being unfairly singled out. The proper response is not to let Qatar off the hook but to put every other country whose governments or citizens are financing terrorism on the hook.