President Barack Obama gambled and lost, and the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 happened as a result of that failure, Walid Phares says.
Fox News' Middle East and terrorism expert told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV that the Obama administration made a bet that allying with various terrorist groups in the Middle East, including the Muslim Brotherhood as it rose to power in Egypt, could help stabilize North Africa, contain Iran and encourage Israel to formally accept Palestinian statehood.
That bet, Phares said, went bust.
"What they're concerned about is for the public to know our relationship with these jihadist groups," Phares said. "We have actually partnered with a number of Salafi jihadi groups. One of them attacked us [in Benghazi]. If I was the government, if it was the administrator I would say, 'well, this is how they infiltrate us.'"
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The main failure of the plan was the Muslim Brotherhood's collapse in Egypt. Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated candidate, was democratically elected to the Egyptian presidency in June, 2012; he was subsequently removed from that post by the Egyptian military in July, 2013, thus ending the group's brief hold on the country's leadership – and the Obama administration's bid to help steer Middle East diplomacy, according to Phares.
"So what has happened now is that the Brotherhood was removed from Egypt. That's a major setback, which explains why the president went to Saudi Arabia [last week]," Phares said.
A united Muslim Brotherhood presence in Egypt, Syria and Libya could have helped the U.S. engage in talks with Iran, getting that nation to abandon its nuclear ambitions. That, in turn, would have encouraged Israel to make peace concessions.
"But now that Egypt has shifted, that the army in Egypt and the people in Egypt actually are going to go after Hamas," Phares said. "This is going to change the whole geopolitical situation."
Phares is the author of the new book "The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid"
published by Palgrave Macmillan
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