WHAT OBAMA SAYS IS NOT WHAT CONGRESS FINDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

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US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL) was part of a recent congressional delegation to the Middle East. He sent out an e-mail with notes on the visit. The trip gives a showing of what the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco are thinking. These notes are not what the State Department says.

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Israel

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Israel has always been an ally of the US. When the nation was recreated as a sovereign one, America had many people that went over and assisted. Even though Russia is currently being a better friend, they still appreciate what the US has done in the past.

Our trip started in Israel, which is the United States’ closest ally in the region and a source of stability and strength. After meeting with representatives from their defense and foreign ministries, we sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I was impressed by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s candor and knowledge. We discussed the recent conflict between Israel and the terrorist organization known as Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Netanyahu assured us that Israel had taken all the necessary steps to prevent civilian deaths, but Hamas made the task very difficult by using schools and hospitals to launch missiles. He put it best by saying: “We use rockets to defend our children while Hamas uses children to defend their rockets.” The Prime Minister also thanked the United States for our support of the Iron Dome missile defense shield, which helped protect Israelis during the recent conflict.

Jordan

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Jordan has been a close ally in recent years. Part of the reason is that the previous ruler’s wife was American. One of the world’s largest international military training exercises is held in Jordan and commanded by the US. That would be Operation Enduring Lion.

While in Jordan, we met with King Abdullah II, the leader of the country. King Abdullah expressed his deep concerns about the spread of Islamic extremists in the region, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Jordan has experienced an increase in refugees since the conflict in Syria started a few years ago, and it has placed strains on the country. Given Jordan’s geographic location and shared interest in combating Islamic extremism, we must continue to maintain strong relations with their leaders.

Egypt

Egypt has been an ally to the United States, but also one of the biggest enigmas. Currently, no one knows where they will be in the next year. President Obama has not been a fan of the current leadership.

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From Jordan we headed south to Egypt. While we did get to visit the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, we spent most of the time visiting with Egyptian military and foreign ministry officials to talk about various security concerns. As you may remember, the Muslim Brotherhood had previously controlled Egypt, and their government was not friendly to the United States. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood was helping support Hamas in their war against Israel.

The new president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is the former commander of the Egyptian Army. While President Obama has expressed concern about the new Egyptian government, I believe it is in our best interests to stand strong with Egypt and ensure they have the military resources they need. Egypt played a key role in establishing a cease fire between Israel and Hamas, and they continue to be a stabilizing force in the region.

Morocco

Morocco has been a little hard to get a grasp on for the US government. The Muslims in charge have usually been a hard read. There has also been massive unrest in recent years.

We ended our trip with a stop in Morocco. Morocco is a beautiful country of around 32 million people located on the coast in Northwest Africa. In Morocco, we visited with the head of their military and the assistant foreign minister, in addition to meeting with staff from the United States embassy. Morocco has numerous security concerns relating to al-Qaeda, but they are also a great ally of the United States.

What was found by the CODEL

The CODEL found information that is not being told in the press or from government sources. Their conclusion shows this.

One common theme that emerged during each of our meetings is the lack of United States leadership and a clear strategy in the Middle East. Whether it be ISIS in Iraq, Hamas in Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Boko Haram in Africa, or al-Qaeda throughout the Middle East, Islamic extremists are on the rise. 

In order to combat these organizations and their horrible practices, we will need the support and help from Middle Eastern nations to present a united front. Each country we visited expressed a willingness to work with the United States, but a clear strategy is lacking. 

Time is of the essence here. The President must get off the sidelines, put forward a clear strategy, and exert leadership in a very dangerous part of the world. The safety and security of the United States depends on it.

The biggest thing that no one is saying is that it is not money that is needed there, but a clear message. Israel does not actually need American money, nor does many of the other nations. The money is more of a bragging point than anything else.

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