While members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are popular for their interviews about race relations, the diverse experiences and skills that Project 21 members bring to the table make them qualified to speak on a broad array of issues. One of these issue areas happens to be another major news item right now -- unrest in the Middle East.
There are three members in particular who are commenting on what’s going on regarding Middle East geopolitics and expansion of radical Islam.
Regarding the recent death of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, Project 21 member Michael Dozier, PA, Ph.D., a consultant on national security issues, said:
Do not shed a tear for the late King Abdullah.
His kingdom is considered by many to be one of the biggest sponsors of terrorism. People will read and hear from the mainstream media about how he made Saudi Arabia an ally of the United States, but they will likely not report how he sponsored Afghanistan’s odious Taliban movement since at least 1996 and channeled funds to Hamas and other groups that have committed terrorist acts in Israel and in other parts of the Middle East.
As Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute pointed out, Abdullah's monarchy bankrolled schools and charities rife with hatred of the West and America in particular. He wrote that children “are also taught that the United States is the center of infidel power in the world and is the enemy of Islam.” It is speculated that the schools are essentially recruitment centers for terrorists and other extremist groups.
King Abdullah’s death, along with the uprising in Yemen, will further destabilize the Middle East. ISIS, among other enemies of the United States, may look at this as an opportunity to put pressure on the kingdom and its new leader to support its cause.
Regarding the Iranian nuclear program, possible sanctions against Iran and the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress in February, Project 21 member Kevin Martin, a Navy veteran whose tours often took him to the Middle East, said:
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama warned Congress not to pass legislation to authorize sanctions against Iran because his administration is negotiating over Iran’s nuclear program.
Iranian officials previously said its nuclear program is not open for discussions. And Iran’s leaders also don’t think the State of Israel has a right to exist.
The very fact that Israelis have faced attacks from Iranian-backed terrorist elements in the past is reason enough for the Obama Administration to seek Israeli input on any nuclear deals or sanction. The White House, however, has made it all too clear they don’t want it. Congressional leaders are taking a much different tack, seeking such input at the very least in the form of inviting the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address a joint session of Congress.
Many members of Congress obviously feel they have reason to be cautious about such deals. There need not be a repeat of the approach the Clinton Administration took towards North Korea’s nuclear program – a negotiation in which the Clinton Administration took a tack of trusting but not verifying. Iran and North Korea are two peas in a pod, and intelligence agencies suspect they are actually working together.
I feel the Obama Administration may be rushing into a useless deal to simply save face as the Iranian government runs out the clock in a fashion similar to the North Korea in the 1990s. The United States only true ally in the region – Israel – has reason to be nervous.
Finally, there is the concern about the expansion of radical Islam. Project 21 member Bishop Council Nedd II, the rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Central Pennsylvania and Archbishop of Abu Dhabi, wrote late last year about the need to stand up to the expansion of extremist elements of Islam into places such as Africa. In an August 2014 New Visions Commentary entitled “A Firewall Is Needed against Militant Islam,” Council wrote:
[F]or human rights reasons, it is necessary to build a firewall to stop the international expansion of radical Islam. Wholly different from peaceful followers of the Muslim faith, the adherents of radical Islam threaten the free expression of faith worldwide because they refuse to tolerate any religious views but their own.
The firewall should be on the African continent…
If militant Islam spreads into Kenya, nations throughout the rest of the continent are likely to be lost in relatively short succession. South Africa may hold out, but it would eventually succumb as well…
[T]his is not a call to holy war. It’s not a modern-day crusade. It’s the need for tolerant people to collectively say “no” to radicals who want to impose their will upon others by any and all means — including heinous acts of violence.