US media is reporting that President Obama has selected Robert Malley, the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group (ICG), as the senior director at the National Security Council responsible for devising US policy in the Middle East. According to a New York Times report:
February 18, 2014 WASHINGTON — The last time Robert Malley went to work for the White House, it was as a Middle East peacemaker, advising President Bill Clinton during his futile effort to broker an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000.
Now, Mr. Malley is coming back to the White House, administration officials said on Tuesday. This time, he will manage the fraying ties between the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf, a job that says a lot about how America’s role in the Middle East has changed.
As a senior director at the National Security Council, Mr. Malley will help devise American policy from Saudi Arabia to Iran. It is a region on edge, with the Saudis and their Sunni neighbors in the gulf fearful that the United States is tilting away, after decades of close ties with them, toward a nuclear accommodation with Shiite Iran.
With his many contacts throughout the Arab world, Mr. Malley, who has been program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, would seem well suited for such a post. But he has also been something of a lightning rod in a field that can be culturally and ideologically treacherous.
In 2008, Mr. Malley was forced to sever his ties as an informal adviser to the campaign of Barack Obama when it was reported that he had met with members of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, which the State Department classifies as a terrorist organization.
The meeting, Mr. Malley said in a letter to The New York Times, was hardly a secret and came in the course of his work with the I.C.G., a nonprofit group focused on preventing conflict. Still, he felt obliged to distance himself from Mr. Obama to avoid misperceptions of the “candidate’s position regarding the Islamist movement.
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Reporting by the GMBDW raises serious questions about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas within the ICG, founded in 1995 as “an international non-governmental organization on the initiative of a group of well known transatlantic figures who despaired at the international community’s failure to anticipate and respond effectively to the tragedies in the early 1990s of Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia.” The ICG is currently chaired by former US Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and former UN official Mark Malloch-Brown. Notable members of the board include former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, financier George Soros, former Nato commander Wesley Clark, and former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. In 2008 we reported that International Crisis Group (CG) had issued a report recommending that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood be integrated in Egyptian political life and that Brotherhood posted a statement on its website saying that the group agrees with the recommendations. The GMBDW has reported since 2007 on the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas background of two of the ICG Trustees which may help to explain the ICG position on the Brotherhood.
Palestinian-born Wadah Khanfar is a current member of the ICG board. In 2003, Khanfar became head of the Al Jazeera Baghdad bureau and shortly thereafter became the station General Manager, serving until his resignation in 2011. A report in the Nation Magazine attributes the support by the Al Jazeera television station for Islamic movements to Khanfar’s influence. According to the Nation report, Al Jazeera coverage changed dramatically to a far more “populist/Islamist approach.” when Khanfar took over in March 2003. This change should not have been surprising given Khanfar’s background in the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. According to a report in a Mideast business publication, Wadah Khanfar was born and educated in Jordan where, consistent with a Muslim Brotherhood background, he was educated as an engineer and where he reportedly was arrested as part of the Brotherhood there. The same report indicates that he also was a student activist, organizing a student union, an activity also consistent with a Muslim Brotherhood background. In a TV interview, Khanfar stated that started his career as a journalist as an analyst on African affairs, mainly on Al Jazeera, while living in South Africa where he was doing graduate study in international politics and African studies at the time. He also described himself in the interview as “a researcher and consultant in Middle Eastern economics and political affairs.”
In 1997, Khanfar became the Al Jazeera correspondent in South Africa. However, while living in South Africa, Khanfar was also was the Director of Human Resource Development for the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO), an organization closely tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood. A memo said to be a 1998 briefing document prepared for the former South African President Thabo Mbeki had long been posted on the Internet and described the IIFSO as working closely with Hamas.The memo also identified an individual called Wahdan Abu Ahmed KHUNFUR who it says was a Trustee of the Al Aqsa Foundation in South Africa as well as a Hamas contact. The Al Aqsa Foundation is one of the organizations comprising the Union of Good, the worldwide coalition of charities collecting money for Hamas and directed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi. The memo appears to be genuine, containing substantial detail and matching the time that Khanfar was known to be living in South Africa.
It should also be noted that a Jordanian newspaper reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave Qatari officials a file demonstrating Khanfar’s Hamas/Brotherhood connections and an analysis posted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs traced Mr. Khanfar’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood:
The director general of the network, Wadah Khanfar, was a member of the organization in Jordan, where he was arrested. Today he is one of the closest advisers of the emir. Sheikh Qaradawi is also a member of the inner circle of the emir and is known to work closely with Khanfar. Both support Hamas. Arab researchers have succeeded in uncovering a number of other Brothers working for the network, but it is surmised that there are many more. The general consensus is that Yusuf al-Qaradawi is the visible tip of the iceberg. In an article published in 2003 in the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat, Maamun Fendi, a well-known Egyptian liberal thinker today living in the United States, wrote that some 50 percent of the network’s personnel belong to the Muslim Brothers. He added that their influence in Qatar was rising both in the network and among government circles. According to him, the Brothers had intended to hold their world summit in Qatar in 2003 but had to scuttle their plan when it became known. These summits are usually held in a European capital far from Arab countries, in conditions of the utmost discretion, if not secrecy.
Another former board member of the ICG is former Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim who has many ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood including helping to found the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) where he currently serves as a director, representing Asian youth and serving as a trustee for the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and appearances at numerous Brotherhood-linked conferences. His ICG bio omitted this background.
The GMBDW or its predecessor publication has been the original source for all of the major stories concerning the Muslim Brotherhood ties of individuals serving in the Obama administration beginning with our 2008 report on then Obama campaign advisor Mazen Asbahi. Other original stories have included:
- Exposing the Brotherhood ties of Rashad Hussain, the US envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)
- Exposing the ties to the Saudi Muslim World League of the parents of Huma Abedin, a Deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton
- Exposing the Muslim Brotherhood ties of Obama administration faith advisor Dahlia Mogahed
- Exposing the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas ties of US Department of Homeland Security advisor Mohamed Elibiary
Unfortunately most of these stories were “appropriated” by other media who gave the GMBDW no credit for the reporting.