Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
The fallout continues from the New York Times’s failed attempt to change the narrative on the Ben-ghazi attacks. The latest hit comes from an unexpected source—the Washington Post:
U.S. officials suspect that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee played a role in the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and are planning to designate the group he leads as a foreign terrorist organization, according to officials familiar with the plans. Militia-men under the command of Abu Sufian bin Qumu, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in the Libyan city of Darnah, participated in the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, U.S. officials said.
That’s not great news for the Times or others who trumpeted the findings of its new Benghazi reporting as definitive. That article had claimed that there was “no al Qaeda role” in the Benghazi attacks and that neither Qumu nor anyone else from Darnah had played a significant role in the Benghazi attacks.
But fighters from Darnah, members of Qumu’s Ansar al Sharia, did participate in the Benghazi attacks. And Qumu’s connections to al Qaeda go back decades.
Readers of this magazine will not be surprised by the news of Qumu’s involvement. As we reported in November: “U.S. intelligence officials believe that Sufian Ben Qumu, a Libyan ex-Guantánamo detainee, trained some of the jihadists who carried out the attacks in Benghazi. He, too, has longstanding connections with al Qaeda leadership.”
The U.S. military detailed Qumu’s deep al Qaeda ties in a summary published years ago by WikiLeaks: He trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, he received monthly stipends from al Qaeda, he worked closely with Abu Zubaida, then al Qaeda’s no. 3. If Sufian Ben Qumu doesn’t qualify as “al Qaeda,” then very few people do.
That may be the point.
The Obama administration has devoted considerable time and effort to convincing the American people that al Qaeda is “on the run”—and if not already dead, then at least in the throes of agonal respiration. To make this case first required redefining the Bush administration’s “war on terror” as something more focused and smaller—a war on al Qaeda.
But that wasn’t enough. The common understanding of what our leaders meant by “al Qaeda” had to change, too. No longer would al Qaeda mean the vast, global network targeted by that war on terror. Instead, top Obama officials, including the president himself, would use “al Qaeda” to refer to the small group of al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. So when Obama boasted repeatedly in the last presidential campaign that “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat,” he was defining al Qaeda down.
But redefining al Qaeda is quite different from killing it.
Sep 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 04 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Syria has receded from the front pages. A long and winding road of failed diplomacy lies ahead, and who wants to bother covering that? Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad is more firmly in power than before, al Qaeda is stronger among the Syrian rebels, the United States has lost credibility, and Iran and Russia have gained in stature and influence. This is the product of an irresolute president—and of shortsighted behavior by representatives of both parties in Congress.
How not to be a war president.Sep 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 03 • By FRED BARNES
When President Obama abruptly called off the bombing strike on Syria and decided to seek the approval of Congress, he surprised no one more than French president François Hollande. France, the only country set to join the United States in the raid, was left in the lurch. Hollande was humiliated and isolated. Now, if an assault on Syria occurs, France is unlikely to participate.
The burgeoning friendship between Azerbaijan and Israel. Sep 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 01 • By ALEXANDROS PETERSEN
A number of Israel’s former foes share its concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, but this is mostly on the principle that an enemy of one’s enemy is a friend. Israel can claim to have a genuinely close partnership with only one majority-Muslim country. It is said that Azerbaijani-Israeli relations are like an iceberg: nine-tenths below the surface. But more and more of this iceberg is becoming visible; the Azerbaijani foreign minister’s recent trips to Israel and Washington are the most overt demonstration of the connection to date.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:38 PM, Aug 23, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's foreign policy is viewed in the Middle East.
Aug 19, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 46 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook enjoyed what might charitably be called a warmhearted chuckle at the news that President Obama had abruptly canceled his planned “summit” meeting in Moscow with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Even the reliably turgid language of White House press secretary Jay Carney was unusually blunt in explaining the reasons why: “We have reached
the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia summit in early September.”
Go ahead and vote, but be sure to have the protection of Western airpower. Aug 5, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 44 • By ROGER KAPLAN
The town of Kidal, about 200 miles north of Gao, the big hub on the Niger River in eastern Mali, is hot and dry, and its police and electricity function erratically. The town, whose population is about 25,000, fell under the control of forces hostile to Mali’s central government in Bamako, which is 950 miles to the south and east, in April 2012.
Obama’s retreat from the Middle EastJul 1, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 40 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
Barack Obama’s foreign policy has one core principle: Get the United States out of the Middle East wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that he “inherited” from George W. Bush and avoid repeating those mistakes. There have been other themes sounded by the White House, most notably the “Pacific pivot,” but backing out of perceived military overcommitments in the Muslim world has been the prime directive.
Why did the Obama administration allow a Russian resurgence in the Middle East?Jul 1, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 40 • By TOD LINDBERG
For decades during the Cold War, U.S. policy sought to minimize the role of Moscow in the Middle East. As the Soviet Union weakened dramatically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so too did its capacity to influence events there (and many other places besides). So matters have stood since. A pretty good question, then, is why on earth the Obama administration seems to be inviting a Russian resurgence in the Middle East.
Jun 24, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 39 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
One might expect Keith Alexander to advocate on behalf of the two programs at the center of our national debate about terrorism and surveillance. He is, after all, the head of the National Security Agency, which runs them. “It’s dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent—both here and abroad—in disrupting or contributing to the disruption of terrorist attacks,” Alexander testified last week.
This time, it’s personal. They dislike the prime minister. Jun 24, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 39 • By LEE SMITH
Two weeks of protests across Turkey that have left four dead and more than 5,000 injured have observers wondering whether Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing an Anatolian Spring. Is Turkey’s Islamic ruler weathering a crisis similar to the revolutionary climate that sent Arab protesters into the streets two years ago, pitted populations against each other, and in several notable cases toppled dictators?
Jun 24, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 39 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
When newspaper editors get together for their next good head-scratching session—Why do they hate us? Why don’t they take us seriously? Why are they abandoning us in droves?—someone should hand out copies of Ruth Marcus’s column “The girls are back” from the June 12 issue of the Washington Post.