POMED’s Executive Director Interviewed by Middle East Eye about Middle East Legislation Introduced in Congress
On February 10, POMED’s Executive Director Stephen McInerney was interviewed by Middle East Eye to discuss several proposed laws introduced into Congress that may dramatically affect US-Middle East relations, including the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2017.
“But Stephen McInerney, the executive director of the Washington DC-based Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) isn’t particularly concerned.
“I can’t really imagine this bill going anywhere,” he told MEE. “There have been numerous bills like this introduced in the past that aren’t really advanced.”
When asked why Budd would have introduced the bill, especially so soon into his first term, McInerney said, “I feel like it’s superficial and he might have just introduced it so he could brag about having introduced it. Even if it were to pass, it would be redundant with existing US laws. There are already lots of provisions in US laws, and with money going to Palestinian territories in general, to ensure it’s not going to terrorists.”
POMED and other organisations are watching other bills more carefully, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2017, introduced into the House by Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and into the Senate by Texas Republican Ted Cruz.
“From our point of view, there’s no such thing as a coherent Muslim Brotherhood organisation internationally,” McInerney told Middle East Eye. “There are lots of organiszations in more than 80 countries that have evolved from the Muslim Brotherhood in some way, and most of those organisations don’t engage in violence or terrorism.”
There are some that do, of course, and Hamas is an example of an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. But many members of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the world, and affiliated groups, are not only peaceful, but they’re politically powerful.
“To make this broad designation could disrupt US relationships with lots of governments in the regions,” McInerney said. “There are lots of allied nations with political parties that could be viewed as linked to the Brotherhood in some way, or have seats in Parliament or ministries in the government.”
Tunisia, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Morocco all have politicians with Muslim Brotherhood affiliations, and, countries like Turkey and Qatar could be seen as supporting the Brotherhood, which, if designated a terrorist organisation, would make those countries state sponsors of terrorism.
“I don’t think the goal either of Congress or of the administration is to go after all of these countries that are US allies, but it could potentially be a troubling implication,” McInerney said. Several other bills currently before Congress would affect US relations in the Middle East and at home, particularly relating to the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.”
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