The potential for wider war in the Middle East has not loomed so large in at least 30 years, said one former US attorney who has prosecuted terrorists in the U.S., and what started as an Israeli-Palestinian skirmish last week is now a powder keg ready to blow.
Andy McCarthy, executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center and author of “Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy
,” said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV that the Obama administration’s foreign policy has been a disaster, which can be seen in much of what is happening throughout the Middle East.
He said the complicated relations between Muslim countries and extremist groups means nobody can be sure what will happen, regardless of a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinian government.
“Absolutely, it could escalate,” McCarthy said. “The complication right now is that a number of the Islamic countries in the region, who are opposed to Israel... Of course, you have a really serious problem in the Sinai, with the Egyptians, because under the new Muslim Brotherhood government, they do not accept the existence of Israel. Seventy-seven percent of Egyptians, in a recent poll, said that they want the Camp David Accords dissolved. You have a very powder-keg type situation in that border region that Israel hasn’t had to worry about for thirty years."
McCarthy added that there are several variables in the situation because of complicated relationships between the countries that neighbor Israel. Assuming that Iran, or even Egypt, will pile on against Israel is not necessarily an automatic reaction.
“In Syria, you have Hezbollah, which hasn’t jumped into the Israeli conflict at this point [because] you have Hezbollah and Hamas on opposite sides,” McCarthy said. “The Syrian conflict has actually driven a wedge between Iran and Hamas. It’s complicated the relations between Iran and Al-Qaeda, [and] between Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. I think at the moment it probably is the complications of Syria that have held up other Arab countries from jumping in to this.”
Part of the problem, he said, is that the Obama administration, as well as other governments, are trying to broker deals with totalitarian Islamists whose main goal is to eliminate Israel from existing.
Though he points to previous administrations as starting the problem, McCarthy said that not being clear who the U.S. supports in the region does not help to push peace in the right direction.
“I think we should be very clear about who our friends are in the world and who our enemies are,” he said. “Frankly, this is not just an Obama administration problem, this goes back a-ways, but I think the Obama administration has been worse on this. This whole concept is that we need to be an honest broker between totalitarian Islamists and our only real ally in the region, the only real democracy in the region, the democracy, in fact, where Muslims live with more freedom and more dignity than they live in any other place in the region. I don’t know why we need to be confused about whose side we are on when two sides conflict.”
McCarthy points to the softness of the administration in dealing with Islamic supremacism as continuing to make worse many of the issues in the Middle East, from increased aggressiveness by Hamas in Palestine to situations such as the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“I think Obama’s foreign policy has been a disaster, particularly in respect to Islamic supremacism, which they won’t even acknowledge,” he said. “This most recent episode, where [U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan] Rice basically went out, dispatched by the administration, to essentially mislead the American people about an atrocity in which four Americans were killed, to me is disqualifying. I understand the president saying, ‘Look, she just went out and said what she was told by the intelligence community, but this is not a Susan Rice failure, this is an administration failure.’ Somebody has to walk the plank on that.”
He called the handling of the entire Benghazi situation troubling and atrocious, from the initial response on the ground up to Democrats slowing down investigations into the entire episode.
McCarthy also called into question the work of former Director of the CIA David Petraeus, who he said has given more than one answer on what happened on Sept. 11 in Benghazi. He also calls into question the conflicting reports from the Obama administration.
“If Petraeus is being truthful, and evidently, according to Congressman Peter King, there is a difference between what he said in his recent testimony and what he said when he first briefed Congress about three days [after the attack], and that discrepancy is something that certainly needs to flushed out,” McCarthy said. “What obviously happened is somebody in the White House changed the information that they were getting from the CIA – because Al Qaeda was in the briefing and then Al-Qaeda was not in the talking points that Susan Rice got sent out to spout on those different programs.”
Repeating his concerns about Obama's handling of foreign policy, he said there are much deeper questions to worry about with the consulate attack. None of them, McCarthy insisted, have to do with Petraeus’ personal life.
“The big thing you need to worry about here is that all this business about Petreus’s problem, and Allen’s problem and who said what to who when, and who erased the thing in the briefing are distractions in the way that obscure what the real problem the American people have to be focusing on here - which is Obama’s policies in the Middle East, specifically the policy in Libya,” he said.
“This whole situation was caused because we started an unprovoked war that was not an American interest in Libya, which has had an effect of empowering virulently anti-American Islamists. Why did we have a consulate in a place like Benghazi in the first place? Which, by percentage of population, Libya was sending more Jihadists to Iraq to fight against American troops than any other country in the world. And the capital of the Jihad in Libya was Benghazi. So, why have an installation there in the first place? [It] boggles the mind.”
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