Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’

Obama Flies to Riyadh: Are U.S.—Saudi Ties Too Big to Fail?

April 22, 2016

Marc Ginsberg (Ambassador to Morocco, 1994-1998)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Ginsberg’s April 19, 2016 special to the Huffington Post.

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President Obama leaves Washington today for his third and final presidential “hajj” to Saudi Arabia for tense meetings with newly installed Saudi King Salman. By any measure, the once “enduring” U.S. – Saudi alliance is on a collision course, triggered by a fateful election year reckoning long overdue of the costs and benefits to a “friendship” that strains the credibility of that word. No amount of diplomatic doublespeak from Mr. Obama or his press secretary can camouflage the President’s ire at the Saudis, who were shocked at Mr. Obama’s unprecedented public rebuke last month of their unhelpful conduct in the Middle East.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Obama told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that the Saudis are not only among “free rider” allies that ask the United States to fight their battles for them and “exploit” American muscle for their own narrow, sectarian end, but are also responsible for encouraging anti-American militancy (his sanitized expression of spreading radical Islamic jihadi ideology).

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Alex, Sascha and the Toll of Islamist Terror

April 18, 2016

James Cain (Ambassador to Denmark, 2005-2009)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Cain’s April 10, 2016 special to the Wall Street Journal.

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Two Saturdays ago, just outside Maastricht, the Netherlands, I visited the 65-acre American Cemetery in Margraten. A sea of marble white crosses and Stars of David is arrayed in a gentle arc marking the final resting place of 8,301 American soldiers who fell nearby while ensuring the liberty and security of a Europe brutalized by World War II.

My wife, Helen, our daughters Cameron and Laura, and a few friends and I were there to view the magnificent array of flowers brought to the cemetery the day before. The flowers came from the funerals of Alexander and Sascha Pinczowski, Dutch siblings who lived in New York and were murdered on March 22 in the Brussels airport by Islamist terrorists Ibrahim el-Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui.

Alex was married to our daughter Cameron.

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We Can no Longer Ignore This Crisis

March 24, 2016

Suzan Johnson Cook (Ambassador-at-Large, International Religious Freedom, 2011 – 2013)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Cook’s March 23, 2016 special to the Huffington Post.

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We can no longer ignore this crisis: religious radicalism.

Now, more than ever, religious tolerance in all corners of the world is important. Where religious tolerance is not celebrated, radicalism breeds. That radicalism spread to Brussels this week, and has seen itself manifested in other corners of the world before that — even in our hometown, New York City.

I express my condolences to those who suffered loss and pain in the terrorist attacks.

Today, we must stand with the president in his call for unity and tolerance. We must absolutely stand with Brussels and bring those responsible for this attack, and others, to justice.

But, we must work to grow diplomacy between nations and between religions. Foreign policy is important now more than ever and an answer to ISIS cannot be solely boots on the ground. We are fighting an ideology of violence and other-ism. So, we must work to grow tolerance, too.

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Mali: Radisson Blu Hotel Attack to Thwart Peace Accord

December 2, 2015

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s November 30, 2015 blog post.

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The terrorist attack on November 20 at the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital city of Bamako shows that radical Islamists continue to be active in Mali. Reportedly the attack was to thwart the peace accord between the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) seeking autonomy, and the Mali government. I believe the Islamists embedded in the northern region want to hinder the peace process so they can create an Islamic caliphate.

The Islamists reportedly affiliated with Moktar Belmoktar’s al-Mourabitoune militia killed eighteen hotel guests and one local guard. Two of the Islamist gunmen were also killed. I had stayed at the Radisson Blu hotel in the past and found it popular with foreign business people, diplomats, and airline personnel.

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U.S. Policy Advisors on the Middle East Region

September 30, 2015

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s September 28, 2015 blog post.

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The world is wondering why the United States has moved so slowly to wipe out radical Islamist groups, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that are destabilizing much of the Middle East and parts of Africa. Battle-hardened rebels have been waiting for military assistance from the U.S. to attack the ISIS strongholds in Syria. The recent resignation of General John Allen leaves a major void in the U.S. military strategy to support the rebel groups. Reportedly, Allen did not receive the necessary authority for action against the radical Islamists, which has allowed their rapid expansion to continue throughout the region.

In Afghanistan the Taliban has affiliated with ISIS, despite the 10,000 U.S. peacekeeping forces there. The new president, Ashraf Ghani also has not been able to bring peace, as terrorist attacks continue daily.

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The 14th Anniversary of Terrorist Attacks on America

September 15, 2015

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s September 14, 2015 blog post.

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As I sat in our New York apartment on Friday looking across Central Park I could see the early morning runners, bike riders, and people just leisurely walking through the maze of tree lined walkways. It suddenly dawned on me today was September 11, the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that changed the world forever.

On that disastrous morning in 2001, I watched on television as the first jet airliner crashed into the World Trade Center at 8:46 am, followed by a second airliner hitting the second tower shortly thereafter. We had been to the U.S. Open Tennis finals the day before. In the dim light of a beautiful sunset we took a photo with the twin Towers in the background. They stood as architectural obelisks reaching towards the sky. We did not dream that they would be gone the next day. We also did not envision that terrorists could again reach our soil so easily. Involved in the attacks were nineteen Islamists affiliated with al-Qaeda. Fifteen came from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon. All were well trained and radically indoctrinated young Muslim men.

I left that night, leaving behind the ‘Big Apple’ the home to many people who immigrated to this land of liberty, freedom and opportunity. As I was working out early the next morning the chaotic attacks were already taking place just a few miles south in the financial district. I was utterly shattered about what was happening in New York. The streets were suddenly empty, although there were some people wandering around–dazed, confused and speechless. Traffic was at a standstill. Everything seemed to come to a halt. No one was in a hurry to go anywhere.  Looking at views of the downtown area, all you could see was heavy smoke billowing into the sky.

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A Field Guide to Jordan’s Struggle Against ISIS

February 6, 2015

Marc Ginsberg (Ambassador to Morocco, 1994-1998)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Ginsberg’s February 5, 2015 special to the Huffington Post.

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There are few nations in the Middle East, perhaps aside from Morocco (a bit of prejudice here), that is as blessed with such decent people and respected leadership as Jordan. It is a vulnerable, but stable desert kingdom constantly defying the forces arrayed against it. Jordan’s boundless generosity has provided a safe haven for the human tide of refugees that have been thrust upon it from war ravaged Syria and Iraq. A nation poor in natural resources – Jordan nevertheless is an oasis of dependability in a Levantine desert seeming devoid of anything but.

King Hussein of Jordan – one of the truly great leaders of the modern Arab world and father of the current monarch, King Abdullah, described his nation this way:

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The Increase of Islamist Attacks is Alarming

January 13, 2015

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s January 13, 2015 blog post.

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We are living in the most crucial time in modern history since the Cold War. Today’s enemy is not a standing army of a sovereign nation. It is a theological movement with a mission to destroy Western civilization. As the Cold War ended in the 1980s, the U.S. focused more on the Eastern Bloc countries, although the real threat to our security was brewing in Africa and the Middle East. We continued to build up our military might for ground-style wars, but did not see the danger of terrorism that would erupt into a different kind of warfare.

The U.S. could have learned a lesson in the early 1980s, when there were thirty-six suicide attacks against Americans inside Lebanon. In April 1983 the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was bombed by Hezbollah, killing 63 people. At the request of the Lebanese government, the U.S. established a peacekeeping force to control the conflict between Muslims and Christians. The Muslim military viewed our soldiers as their enemies and attacked them regularly. In October 1983 truck bombs struck two barracks, killing 241 U.S. troops for which the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. In December 1983 a truck filled with explosives rammed into the three-story administrative wing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City, killing five people. That attack was claimed by a radical Shiite group with ties to Iran.

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Africa’s Future in the Global Economy

November 5, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s November 5, 2014 blog post.

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“Africa is the second largest continent, with over one billion people, which is expected to double by the year 2050”.

On October 20-21, 2014 the Council of American Ambassadors and the Hinckley Institute of Politics co-sponsored a conference on Africa’s Future in the Global Economy at the University of Utah. Global leaders and academics made presentations to an audience consisting of government and community leaders, diplomats, former U.S. ambassadors, educators and students.

Governor Gary Herbert opened the conference noting that a number of Utah businesses have increased their trade with Africa–a new frontier for export growth. TIME’s October 27 issue had a Gallup poll survey taken in 131 countries, indicating that 35% of the respondents planned to do business in sub-Saharan Africa within the next year; 23% in the Middle East and North Africa.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield gave an overview of U.S. involvement in sub-Saharan Africa—major achievements and some shortcomings. The future looks bright, except some of the Millennium Development Goals established at the UN in 2000eight targets to eradicate poverty and human suffering–will not be accomplished by 2015. Ms. Thomas-Greenfield served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia 2008-2012, where today there is an Ebola crisis that is also affecting several other West African nations.

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U.S. at War: Airstrikes have begun in Syria

September 25, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005) Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s September 25, 2014 blog post.

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Fighting between tribal and religious factions is not new. Rulers and dictators have come and gone through history. In the 12th century Sultan Saladin’s Muslim forces defeated the Crusaders, and created a caliphate in the Middle East and North Africa. The mantle was passed on to the Ottoman Empire rulers who controlled much of the Middle East and Eastern Europe until 1915. Islamists today want to establish another caliphate in the same region. In the early 1700’s the Muslim preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab formed a political pact with Muhammad bin Saud to engage in armed jihad against the other tribes in the region. The al-Saud dynasty by 1932 had become the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, controlling a vast region in the Middle East. The Wahhabi sect has since spread throughout the Middle East, Africa and Southern Asia, and adopted armed jihad as part of the Islamic doctrine. (more…)