Middle East expert Walid Phares tells Newsmax.TV that “the war with the jihadists is on” and that “the whole world is a battlefield” as a result.
“The administration needs to explain to the American public that the war with the Jihadists is on, even if we withdraw from Iraq, even if we withdraw from Afghanistan,” Phares tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “The jihadists are not withdrawing. So it is a unilateral withdrawal from the confrontation on behalf of the Obama administration.
Watch the exclusive interview here.
“And we do need to, if not expect, but at least project, that as long as this enemy – these terrorists – have any intention of harming us, the whole world is a battlefield, not just Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They hit in Libya. They could hit in any other place,” he added. “So the American public should be prepared, better prepared, by its administration.”
Phares, an adviser to Congress on terrorism, called the attack in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans “an absolute act of terrorism with another layer of war crime.
“This is an attack against our diplomats in a country with which we’ve had good relations since the rebels took over and took down Gadhafi.
“But this is also indicative on the strategic level,” he added. “President Obama said that after bin Laden, al-Qaida is going down – and this is evidence that al-Qaida is spreading in areas where it was not operational, such as Libya and, of course, Somalia, Northern Mali, Syria, Iraq.”
As such, President Barack Obama’s White House “needs to review its own assessment of the strength of al-Qaida and its response to al-Qaida,” Phares said. “It also needs to review its policy with regard to the Arab Spring because, unfortunately, the administration partnered – politically partnered – with the Muslim Brotherhood, giving a lot of visibility to those movements. And, of course, al-Qaida took advantage of it.”
It also requires the administration to be even more forthcoming with the American people, he said.
“The administration must address the American public with a clear explanation of what the assessment of the jihadi movement is – what the assessment is of al-Qaida – because what we hear from the administration is that we are winning this confrontation. What we see on the ground, not just in Libya with this dramatic development, but also in Afghanistan, is that the Taliban and their allies are making inroads, and al-Qaida is pushing in Somalia and many other places.”
The administration also must “be very tough with the governments that are supposed to protect our consulates and embassies, including the governments that we helped,” Phares said. “We helped the political forces in Libya to bring down Gadhafi – and the same goes for Egypt and Tunisia.
“These governments that are now either controlled by the Islamists or under their influence need to understand that the United States will not be with the forces of extremism.”
Phares, a foreign affairs and national security adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, backed the former Massachusetts governor’s comments attacking Obama’s handling of the Libyan crisis. Romney has since toned down such criticism.
“Gov. Romney was right on target in his important press release and press conference,” Phares said. “He was clear in stating that the Obama administration failed in dealing with the Arab Spring. It’s failed in reaching out to the moderates, to the seculars, to the civil societies, which, by the way, began the Arab Spring.
“Gov. Romney has believed that they are part of the forces in the Arab Spring since the beginning, but he blames the Obama administration for allowing the extremists, the Muslim Brotherhood, to take over.
“Gov. Romney wants to ally himself and the United States with civil societies, and the Obama administration wants to ally itself with the Islamists,” he added. “That’s a huge difference between both.”
With so much turmoil in the Mideast, Phares said he expects Iran to be the next flashpoint.
“If we continue with this policy of disengagement, of withdrawal and of non-confrontation with forces that are growing in the region, unfortunately, Washington is looking at the Iranian regime still as a potential partner despite the sanctions. It’s penetrating Iraq and is giving a lot of trouble to our allies in the Gulf like the Saudis and the Kuwaitis and others.
“The policy needs to change here in Washington so that we can have a different strategy in dealing even with an Iranian threat, not just al-Qaida.”
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