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Faith McDonnell October 17, 2012
Some Arab American and Middle East-related organizations give the impression that the Middle East American vote is all sewn up for President Obama. The Middle East American Coalition for Mitt Romney begs to differ.
The coalition launched on October 12 and held rallies in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia -- battleground states in which Middle East Americans are a significant constituency. Their press release indicated that "The Obama Administration has angered many in the community with its lack of a clear strategy on how to move forward in the Middle East. From the recent violence in Libya and Egypt that cost four American lives to the continuing civil war in Syria, Obama's policy has been inept and failed to present a strong United States in the region."
Middle East Americans' activist John Hajjar added, "America needs a leader with a vision for real change in the Middle East who will advocate for the principles of liberty, universal human rights and the free market. The Obama Administration's lack of a coherent Middle East policy is disastrous for the people of the region and U.S. relations for generations to come."
The Washington, DC Rally for Romney, held just outside the city in Herndon, Virginia, expressed the conviction that Mitt Romney was a leader with true vision for America and for the Middle East. The rally featured two guest speakers, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, author and founder/president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and Dr. Walid Phares, foreign policy advisor to the Romney campaign, author, and media consultant on terrorism. Jasser and Phares joined coalition leaders of Egyptian, Lebanese, and Syrian descent, both Christian and Muslim, along with representatives of Sudan's marginalized peoples, to showcase Governor Romney's far different approach to fostering freedom and democracy in the Middle East and in other countries dominated by Islamic supremacists.
Introducing himself, Jasser, who has made many courageous stands on behalf of American freedom and democracy, said that although he had been involved in more local politics, including the senatorial campaign of Jon Kyl, he had not been involved in a national campaign before, but this year, he made an exception. He protested that "Americans of Middle Eastern descent do not often fall into the same collective spirit" wanted by the Administration.
"This is a tipping point in history," Jasser warned. And he fears that with this Administration, it is tipping in the "wrong direction." He spoke of the exchange of one fascism for another, the ascendancy of the Theocrats, and the tragic missed opportunity of supporting Iran's Green Revolution. "This Administration abandoned them," said Jasser. "Those on the ground did not see America standing behind those who believe in freedom." Jasser affirmed Romney's position on the need to support the true pro-democracy movement in Syria, and that the U.S. "doing nothing" was helping Syria to become more radicalized and more jihadist.
Walid Phares also excoriated Obama foreign policy in regards to Iran, lamenting U.S. abandonment of the Iranian protestors of 2009. "It was to become an Iranian Spring," he said. "If that Spring had been successful, that regime would have collapsed, and its ally regime in Syria would have followed . . .that means half of the war on terror would have been won." Instead the Obama Administration issued a statement saying, "We don't want to be seen as meddling in Iranian internal affairs."
And this is why the Obama Administration will not act firmly on Syria, says Phares. If they acted firmly, they would need to be ready to confront the Iranian regime, for which they have no desire. Phares also spoke of Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and Sudan -- all of which he wrote in his most recent book The Coming Revolution. Of Sudan, Phares said that a Romney Administration would bring indicted war criminal Omar al Bashir to justice and he said that Governor Romney's policy would be to stand with the people, the resistance movement within civil society -- not the Muslim Brotherhood or the Taliban.
The plight of Sudan's marginalized people, and the conviction that Mitt Romney would stop the policy of impunity for Khartoum, was also highlighted by Ibrahim Ahmed, a Beja from eastern Sudan -- a people group that has been neglected in U.S. Sudan policy.
Jimmy Mulla from South Sudan also spoke:
They reinforced the idea that American Sudan policy needs to totally eschew moral equivalence and support those who are fighting for freedom and democracy for all Sudan's people, from the far north of Nubia, to the Beja in the east, to the Darfuri in the west, to the Nuba and Blue Nile people groups in the south.
This election is not just about a "different nuance" in foreign policy, Phares declared. He sees the Obama versus Romney foreign policy as "two different directions." This is about the future of freedom in America as well as the future of freedom around the world. Middle East Americans, Sudanese Americans, and others who have lived without freedom agree.
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