ARABIC MEDIA UPDATE for August 12-13, 2019 By Barry Webb

TRUMP’S EMBARGO AGAINST IRAN: A LOOK AT THE AUTO INDUSTRY

On the 12th of August, 2019, al-jazeera.net published a report on how the American sanctions have affected the Iranian auto industry. According to this report, in 2017 Iran was the top country in the Middle East region for the production of automobiles, and number 12 in the World. In 2018 Iran had fallen to number 2 in the Middle East (behind Turkey) and to number 20 in the world.

The article mentioned such things as the difficulty of obtaining essential parts for the manufacture of automobiles, the rising prices for the consumer, and the decrease of quality. The American embargo has also halted Iran’s ability to export autos to other countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, and Lebanon.

COMMENT: For all the naysayers who said that a unilateral embargo by the United States would fail because too many other countries were already deeply entangled in trading with Iran, this article shows that at least in terms of specific industries, the embargo working very well. And, not only that, even some of Iran’s supposed allies have had to curtail at least some of their trade with Iran.

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IS A REBEL SUFI SERVING AS AN ADVISOR TO TRUMP?

Another al-jazeera.net report of 12 August talked about one “Hamza Yusuf” who is supposedly an advisor to President Trump. This individual was born in 1958 to a Christian family in the state of Washington. His real name was Mark Hansen. After an auto accident when he was 17 he began to think about mortality. In this vulnerable state a book by the title of The Book of Certainty fell into his hands which led him to begin reading the Qur’an.

To make a long story short he soon converted to Islam, learned Arabic, then spent several years studying Islam under shaykhs in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Morocco, and he rose from being a typical American Christian teenager to one of the most influential Islamic Imams in the West.

However, in the eyes of his Muslim critics, he has gone from being a defender and supporter of issues of concern to Muslims (prior to 9/11) to one of advising Muslims after 9/11 to hold firm to the rights granted to them by the nations of the West by rejecting the siren call of “radical Islam.”

“Prior to 9/11 he was one of the strongest critics of American domestic and foreign policies,” his critics say.

He also claims that the perpetrators of 9/11 and other “radicals” had “hijacked” the religion and advised Muslims to return to the “true Islam.”

He has also been criticized by (by some) Muslims for maintaining his ties to Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the UAE even after the Kashoqji affair, and the events of the war in Yemen. This has led many to accuse him of being a “spy” for the UAE, and that he has influenced Trump to favor Saudi Arabia and the UAE over Qatar.

COMMENT: Any individual raised as a Christian in any Western country who then converts to Islam on his own volition as an adult is by definition mentally unstable. Such an individual understands neither Christianity nor Islam. Proof of his confusion is his call for Muslims to return to the “true Islam,” and blaming the “radicals” for “hijacking” the religion. What he does not realize is that it is the “radicals,” the 9-11 bombers, the ISIS, and al-Qaeda types who have, in actual fact, returned to the “real Islam.”

And, what “Hamzi Yusuf” and others like him don’t realize is that the “moderate” Islam that he wants to believe in is a “Disneyland Islam” as described in my book listed below. This moderate, or “Disneyland Islam,” was made possible, and in fact was a direct product of, the European colonization of most of the Arab world during the 19th and early 20th century. In other words, “moderate” Muslims are only imitating their Western colonizers. The further removed we get from the age of European colonization in terms of time, the more we are going to see increasing numbers of Muslims moving away from the Western-influenced “Disneyland Islam” to the real Islam of ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and prophet Muhammad.

There will never be any real progress in the war on terror until everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, can come to recognize these truths.

Finally, while there are plenty of reasons to favor the lesser evil of Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the greater evil of Qatar and al-Qaeda, etc., the idea of someone as mentally unstable and poorly informed about world history as this individual being an advisor to the U.S. president is troubling to say the least.

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Also on the 12th of August, 2019, al-jazeera.net published an editorial by an Egyptian researcher and writer by the name of Khalil al-‘Anani. The title of the editorial was: Will the Eradication of the Islamists be Successful?

In this editorial, Mr. al-‘Anani complains about the huge sums of money that Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the UAE are expending to found, and finance, think tanks, TV news channels and newspapers in the West and the East, the only function of which is to attack any (political) current based on Islamic authority. Meanwhile, these countries (KSA, UAE, and Egypt) claim that they are the only ones who represent a moderate, middle ground, Islam.

It is these countries, Mr. al-Anani says, which are goading the Western countries to declare Islamic groups and organizations as terrorist entities. As an example of this he pointed to the efforts of the KSA, the UAE, and Egypt to pressure the Trump administration to declare the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist group.

In the body of the article Mr. al-‘Anani points out that all the attempts by Arab dictatorial regimes, from Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasr to Mubarrak and Qadhafi to crush the Islamic movement have failed, and each time it has come back stronger than before. And, it is these efforts to eradicate Islamist movements by these countries, and supported by the West, that has pushed the Sunni political Islam groups and Shi’a Iran into each other’s arms.

However, he says, that all of these people (meaning those trying to eradicate the Islamist movements such as the KSA, UAE, and Egypt) are “drunk and high” because of Donald Trump’s presence as president in the White House. Nonetheless, sooner or later, he says, there will be a different occupant in the White House and American Middle East policy could once again be turned on its head.

ANALYSIS

First off, this author sounds like he is probably a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, if not a full member. He certainly supports the Islamist movements. It is most interesting that his accusations against the KSA and UAE over the financing of think tanks and news entities comes on the heels of the publication of The Qatar Papers by a pair of French investigative journalists who document Qatar’s funding of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical groups and their activities in the West in general and France in particular. So, this is just a “tit for tat” argument. Both sides are obviously spending huge sums to influence Western opinions.

However, what Mr. al-‘Anani said about all previous efforts by dictatorial regimes to stamp out the Brotherhood and other Islamist movements, have only resulted in failure, and that each time the Islamist groups come back stronger than before, is true. However, there are a number of other reasons other than the brutality and repression of the Arab regimes. I identify and describe each of these other reasons in my book listed below. Hint: One of the chief reasons is listed above (i.e. the withdrawal of European colonization).

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Barry Webb had a 15-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, holds two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is: www.barrywebbauthor.com
He is currently a senior fellow with the DC-based Americans for Intelligence Reform, website: www.intelreform.org

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