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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tillerson shills for Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar

President Trump has thus far talked a good game about radical Islamic terrorism, but he has yet to designate the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization as he was expected to do.

The designation falls under the job description of the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. But Tillerson has chosen the MB and its backers in Qatar and Turkey over their Arab rivals. In fact, Tillerson has only negative things to say about the idea of designating them a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Tillerson's main talking point is that the MB's political parties have representatives in governments in Turkey and Bahrain, which is irrelevant. Bahrain has banned the Brotherhood and the U.S. would not deal with Lebanon since it has Hezbollah in it, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The Secretary of State also spouted the same "non-violent" and "moderate" Brotherhood propaganda and claimed the Brotherhood's political parties in governments "have become so by renouncing violence and terrorism."

That's bull crap and it was bull crap when Obama said it. 

Now that Trump is in office and has said all the politically incorrect things one can say about Islamic terrorism, you would think his Secretary of State would be honest too, but perhaps Trump didn't quite know what he was getting with Tillerson. 

The disappointment in Tillerson's position is exacerbated by the fact that now is an opportune time to designate the MB as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. 

Again, Trump said he would but he hasn't. 

The Arab world is pressuring Qatar over its support of the MB and other jihadists. Those Arabs wonder where we stand since our president and our Secretary of State are on opposite sides of the fence on this issue.

Patrick Poole, a counter-terrorism expert, asserts that Tillerson is "sabotaging" Trump's foreign policy. Poole would like to see Tillerson do a "Priebus" and don't let the door hit him on his way out.

Here we have Trump expressing his support for those Arab nations taking measures against Qatar and unequivocally describing them as a major terrorism funder. Tillerson describes Qatar as "very reasonable" in his reaction to Arab pressure.

Tillerson was formerly the CEO of ExxonMobil, a company that is also a member of the U.S.-Turkish Business Council. The chairman is Ekin Alptekin, the same businessman who's at the center of controversy regarding former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn.  

Alptekin's company contracted with Flynn for $600,000 to promote Erdogan government's interests. Flynn's firm registered as a lobbyist but didn't register as a foreign agent--that was the problem that got Flynn in trouble and fired from the Trump administration and replaced by General H.R. McMaster.

There's no proof of direct dealings between Tillerson and Alptekin, but ExxonMobil's involvement in the U.S.-Turkish Business Council is a good indication how Tillerson's previous relationship with Turkey's government may influence his behavior.

While Erdogan had few defenders, he certainly had one in Tillerson.

At the beginning of July, Tillerson went to Istanbul to receive an award from the World Petroleum Congress where he openly praised those who defended Erdogan against a coup attempt last year. He even went so far as to describe the Islamist theocratic dictatorship as a democracy. 

He said:
"Nearly a year ago, the Turkish people--brave men and women--stood up against coup plotters and defended their democracy. I take this moment to recognize their courage and honor the victims of the events of July 15, 2016. It was on that day that the Turkish people exercised their rights under the Turkish constitution, defended their place in a prosperous Turkey, and we remember those who were injured or died in that event."
Although Tillerson condemned the Turkish security personnel who violently attacked protesters in Washington D.C. in May, something any public official would do, when it comes to difficult issues, Tillerson sides with Turkey and Qatar, contradicting President Trump, who selected him for Secretary of State.

Even when it comes to the Kurds, our closest allies in fighting Islamic State, Tillerson's State Department sided with Turkey in criticizing the Iraqi Kurds' referendum on independent statehood, implying his opposition to Kurdish independence.

Trump was elected for change, but Tillerson is not the man for the job. Nothing has changed and maybe it's worse.