Editorial | Republic Underground
February 12, 2021
Above, the International Justice Organization is proactive in its opposition of Islamist terrorism. This letter highlights the stance IJO takes against Ansra Allahs’ abuse of civilians in Yemen.
Republic Underground News media vice president Irina Tsukerman joined the International Justice Organization’s recent event to discuss opportunities for education against Islamism in the Middle East. She gave her remarks on what opportunities the United States and the Arab States had to proceed with cooperation, in designating Islamist extremism and opening up pipelines of education and trade in the region.
She began her commentary as follows:
I’m really honored to be here, and thanks to Mohammed for organizing. Thank you so much to Dr. Belfer and the others for their remarks. I am, in fact, also, a lawyer and a national security one at that. So, I can commiserate with Dr. Belfer a little bit, but I would also like to slightly disagree with him.
I think being a professional in the field of security is what allows us to tackle the issues that can then result in the positive trade-off that others mentioned. To focus on weapons or to focus on education. In some ways, the field of security is not just about weapons, it’s just as much about education. This is what I’m going to address here. We’re in the midst of amazing opportunities for cooperation between western countries and the Middle East. Between governments and governments, but also between governments and people, and people and people.
We’ve had obstacles, we’ve had challenges, and we’re certainly going to have differences in laws, but there are many ways to overcome them. We’ve seen increasingly that our countries are finding paths toward greater cooperation.
I will focus in my remarks on the United States and its opportunities for countering extremism in conjunction with the Arab States. There’s been a couple of specific developments that I will focus on.
One is the recent designation of Ansar Allah, also known to many people as the Houthis, as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States government. That indicates that there is going to be a freezing of funding for this organization, and its members will not be able to travel to the United States. They’re basically persona non grata.
This is an important development for a number of reasons. Not only is the United States acknowledging that this organization has engaged in acts of terrorism against civilians, and that their methods and approaches are not welcome or constructive, but that the United States is actually taking action to recognize that, and that it is taking an opportunity to actively contribute to the fight against the sort of methods and ideologies that are wreaking havoc not just in Yemen, where this group is based, but all over the region increasingly. They present a danger to international trade, and when that happens, it’s a global danger to prosperity around the world and not just to the Middle East.
So, what are the actionable steps to promote that cooperation? Some are concerned that, for political reasons, sanctions may not be enforced in the future. The reality is that enforcement of sanctions is as much about education and cooperation on a non-political legal level as it is about political decision making and political will. If you want to have the political will, you start with education.
If you start with informing the voters, the American citizens, and later on citizens in other countries, why this approach is important, why this organization is similar to Hezbollah with which it is aligned, and which receives complete recognition from all administrations and members of Congress as a terrorist organization. “
Tsukerman then laid out how the U.S. government had made preliminary provisions for cooperating on the Ansra Allah terrorism designation. Yet, there was still quite a bit of work that needed to be done by way of public education, as Tsukerman highlighted the fact that the provisions for this terror designation were only a new partnership. She noted that the public needed to be educated on how Ansra Allah cooperates with Yemen, prevents the distribution of humanitarian aid in the region, and how it will not be harmful to Yemen to classify the Houthi rebels as terrorists, but would rather have the opposite effect of being beneficial to Yemeni citizens.
“Saudi Arabia alone has contributed 16 billion dollars to Yemen over the years. The United States has contributed over 600 million dollars in humanitarian aid over the years, but has had to cut it because all of that aid that was supposed to go to the people of Yemen was diverted to Ansrah Allah,” said Tsukerman.
“This is the information that does not get to the public. Educational efforts must be spent. Right now, the discourse in the United States has been dominated by entities associated with Ansar Allah. This designation will allow investigation of these entities, and their domination of the public discourse and narrative, but this is where a joint investment must come in.”
Tsukerman then detailed the recognition of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization by scholars of Islam in the Arab States. While this was not an entirely new development, as the Arab States have outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood for a number of years, Tsukerman noted that this was a development that shows an acknowledgment by the religious community that the Muslim Brotherhood has no ideological justification in Islam. This, she stated, sent a message to Muslim communities around the world guiding them to cooperate with authorities to the sabotage of enablers and facilitators of this movement.
Tsukerman then noted how the United States has hosted organizations that have claimed to support a diverse group of Muslim communities.
However, many of these organizations have spread ideological division and disenfranchised the Muslim community that disagrees with the discourse. These organizations stand in the way of promoting diversity and prosperity of Muslims in both the United States and in the Middle East.
Tsukerman likewise noted the difficulties presented to the international community over terrorism organization designation because of the differences in laws in the United States and the Middle East. In the U.S., a terror organization is classified by its direct participation in or facilitation of violence.
The debate has been anchored in whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood has had a hand in the direct facilitation of violence. The classification issue argument circled the fact that groups that began with the Muslim Brotherhood went on to become separate entities, and then these separate entities committed acts of terrorism.
“This argument more and more is becoming moot as the Muslim Brotherhood has been connected to direct acts of violence,” said Tsukerman.
Tsukerman then emphasized the importance of educational efforts and providing counter ideology.
“The United States has lost the plot on this,” Tsukerman stated, noting that the United States would be “outplayed” because it had not promoted educational and humanitarian projects. She stated that, on the private level, the United States must learn to work with Muslim communities to provide education that is not dominated by extreme voices.
“We can be active participants in the marketplace of ideas, not just by responding defensively to what someone else has introduced,” said Tsukerman, believing that the future is full of promise for those who engage.