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Rep. Ribble: Cuba List Reprieve a 'Distraction' From True Threats

By    |   Wednesday, 15 April 2015 03:58 PM

With the Middle East on fire and Russia reverting to its menacing old Soviet self, the timing was questionable for a White House decision Tuesday to focus on a bit player like Cuba and remove the country from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, says House Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Reid Ribble.

"Cuba's an unnecessary distraction right now … when you've got problems in Yemen, you've got the Russians moving into Crimea and Ukraine, you've got all the Arab Spring that's unfolded in the last couple of years, you've got ISIS going on in Iraq and Syria," the Wisconsin Republican told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

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President Barack Obama on Tuesday took communist Cuba off the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism — part of a renewal of diplomatic ties after a half-century of mutual enmity.

Also on Tuesday, the president backed down on what Ribble identified as a much bigger foreign policy concern: the fight with Congress over nuclear talks with Iran.

Obama agreed to sign a bill he had criticized to give Congress review power over any finalized agreement intended to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"It is certainly the first time in his presidency that he has seen such a forceful pushback by the Congress in a united way," said Ribble.

With White House ally Sen. Harry Reid no longer in charge of the legislative calendar, his Republican successor as majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was "able to pull [together] this coalition of both parties to retake power that the Constitution has rightly given to Congress," said Ribble.

Congress asserting a role on Iran reflects unease at the chaotic state of the whole Middle East as well as fears that the emerging deal with Iran could actually spur, not stop, a regional nuclear arms race, said Ribble.

"I'm one of those that feel that the president's been out-negotiated on this," he said. "But he's not proven to be a particularly adept negotiator in his time in office."

"Every time, the Iranians — they'll walk up to a deadline and then they're able to move that deadline back," he said. "All the while they continue to build their nuclear program."

In light of Iran and other global threats, Cuba's State Department terror list status seemed like a low priority, said Ribble.

He called Cuba "a small player" in the world today.

But with the White House easing travel restrictions and restarting diplomatic relations, Ribble also said "there's a better chance, maybe, for democracy to happen … the more the Cubans are interacting with American citizens."

"I wish it hadn't happened now," he said, "but we're here, and it's probably not as big a deal as some people are making."

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The timing was questionable for a White House decision on Tuesday to focus on a bit player like Cuba and remove the country from a U.S. terrorism blacklist, says House Foreign Policy committee member Rep. Reid Ribble.
Reid Ribble, cuba, terror, iran, russia
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 03:58 PM
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