US should declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, says John Bolton

John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2017
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US should declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, says John Bolton

JEDDAH: In order for Qatar to stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the US must declare it a terrorist organization, said former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton.
“The Saudis have picked on Qatar in particular because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, but I think also they’re worried about Qatar’s tilt toward Iran,” he told Breitbart News on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia wants a “united Sunni Arab community” in the Middle East, Bolton said, adding: “Qatar’s response is, ‘Well, what are you picking on us for? Because of the Muslim Brotherhood? The United States hasn’t declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and neither have we, so why are we any different from you?’”
He said the US should “do what it should’ve done anyway. Let’s declare the Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Having done that, we turn back to Qatar and say, ‘Now you follow suit’.”
Bolton urged the US to make full use of the outcomes of the Riyadh Summit upon President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May, which concluded with the inauguration of a pan-Arab, pan-Muslim center against terrorism.
“Give all these governments the cover they need to cut off the sources of terrorist financing,” Bolton said, including the Qatari royal family.
Although Saudi Arabia declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group in 2014, he believes it is a “complicated organization; not every part of it is devoted to the support of terrorism. Some of them do humanitarian work and so on. A declaration that the entire Brotherhood is a foreign terrorist organization would actually buttress the cause of the jihadis.”
Excluding some affiliates and components of the Brotherhood from the designation would be a better option, he said, adding: “Just declare part of it a terrorist organization. We’ll deal with the rest of it later.”

Iran and the IRGC
Meanwhile, Bolton said the US should also add Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the list of terrorist groups, because “that’s fundamentally what it is.”
Tehran’s objective is “to link up from Iran, through the Baghdad government in Iraq, to the Assad regime’s regular forces in Syria and the Hezbollah terrorists who are there in Lebanon,” Bolton warned.
He said Tehran is trying to create “an arc of control that lays the foundation for the next struggle in the Middle East, against the Sunni coalition led by the Saudis.”
He added that the Obama administration was “entirely comfortable” with that, as the situation was consistent with its view that Iran is a “normal kind of nation; we’ll just talk them out of their nuclear weapons and then everything will be fine.” Bolton said Tehran has a different take on this issue.
To prevent it from creating that arc of control, Bolton proposed the creation of a new state that is secular yet demographically Sunni, partially paid for by Saudi Arabia.
“This is part of the bigger picture of how we deal with Iran, which is continuing to pursue nuclear weapons along with its friends in North Korea, and continuing to support terrorism around the world,” he said.
“That struggle with Iran is something that was just absent from the radar screen in the Obama administration, but it’s going to come to the fore again once ISIS (Daesh) is defeated.”
On Sunday, Iraq declared victory against Daesh in Mosul after a grueling months-long campaign, dealing the biggest defeat yet to the terrorist group.
Bolton said having an active strategy is a must. “It’s not enough to kind of wake up every day and say, ‘Well, gee, what problem do we have now?’ You have to have a strategy.”
He said combating terrorism and tackling the threat of “the world’s principal state sponsor of terrorism, which is Iran,” is a critical strategy that should be developed urgently. This requires advancing US objectives and Arab unity, he added.


Thousands flee bombs and hunger in eastern Syria

Updated 12 min 32 sec ago
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Thousands flee bombs and hunger in eastern Syria

  • UN Spokesperson says at least 16,500 people have been forced to flee their homes
  • Almost 320 civilians have been killed, including 113 children

AL-HOL, Syria: Faraj was born in the pouring rain on a nondescript stretch of desert road in eastern Syria as his family fled escalating fighting over the Daesh group’s last bastion.
His family was part of a group of around 200 civilians who managed to escape from a pocket of territory in Deir Ezzor province that is still held by the jihadists.
“I had to resist hunger, cold and rain,” the newborn’s mother Kamela Fadel tells AFP in a camp for displaced people in the northeastern region of Al-Hol.
The young woman, her husband and their four children now sleep under white tents, with hundreds of other people who fled eastern flashpoints in past weeks.
They are huddled on straw mats laid out directly on the gravely earth, wrapped in blankets and hugging bags packed with their meagre belongings.
A nurse helps an elderly lady to the camp clinic as children play at scaling piles of foam mattresses and families sit cross-legged, eating from tin cans.
It is still cold in the vast tent but at least they are sheltered from the rain.
They walked for several days in the winter weather before being met last week by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) battling IS in Deir Ezzor.
“It was hunger that prompted us to leave, there was nothing left to eat,” says Kamela’s husband, still sporting the thick beard the jihadists impose on all adult men.
He and his family were living in Al-Shaafa, one of the last villages, together with Sousa and Hajjin, that are still under the control of IS.
The SDF, with the support of air strikes by the US-led coalition against IS, launched a major operation against the last rump of the jihadists’ moribund “caliphate” in September this year.
The jihadists hunkering down in their Euphrates Valley heartland have offered stiff resistance, thwarting coalition hopes of a quick victory.
Warplanes have been raining bombs on IS targets in and around Hajjin, causing significant civilian loss of life in the process, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Observatory says almost 320 civilians have been killed, including 113 children.
“There is destruction everywhere because of the fighting and the bombardment. We were scared for the children,” says Faraj’s father.
Local camp official Mohamed Ibrahim told AFP around 1,700 civilians had arrived in Al-Hol in recent days.
The intensity of the bombardment and the remoteness of the area make it is difficult to estimate the number of civilians who remain, voluntarily or not, in the IS pocket.
“In Syria, displacement leads to food insecurity as people leave their belongings behind,” said Marwa Awad, a spokeswoman for the UN’s World Food Programme in Damascus.
“This is why it’s vital to maintain a lifeline of food assistance for vulnerable families such as those escaping violence in Deir Ezzor,” she said.
Awad said at least 16,500 people had been forced to flee their homes in Hajjin and surrounding areas since violence in the area intensified in July this year.
SDF fighters too suffered heavy losses in their assault on Hajjin, where a group of die-hard jihadists with little to lose are making a bloody last stand.
“There are land mines everywhere on the roads,” says Abu Omar, one of the displaced in Al-Hol.
Fearing retribution against relatives who have stayed behind in IS-controlled territory, he refused to give his full name.
“The village and our homes have been destroyed by the bombardment,” says Abu Omar, a man in his thirties.
“There are still high-ranking members of IS and foreigners there, but most are on the Hajjin frontline,” he says. “They won’t give up easily, they are fighting to the death.”
The US-led coalition puts the number of jihadist fighters holding out in that area at around 2,000.
“The day we managed to flee, the fog was thick and gave us cover. Had they seen us, they would have wiped us out,” says Ziba Al-Ahmed, who escaped the town of Sousa.
“The bombardment was so scary and our bellies were crying,” says the mother of four.
Their farming machinery was too precious to leave in Sousa and her husband stayed behind with one of their daughters.
“We’re worried about them, we don’t know what’s going to happen to them.”