If he is elected, US presidential candidate Mitt Romney will ensure that the Egyptian government and the Palestinian Authority will work harder to keep the millions of dollars in aid handed to them every year by the US, according to his senior adviser on foreign policy and national security, Walid Phares.
Mr Phares told the JC: “If Egypt and the PA act against the principles of democracy and freedom, threaten the peace process or ally themselves with anti-US forces, they would be the ones to impact US aid.”
For Mr Romney, a future Palestinian state would have to be based on a “democratic culture”, so that “the likes of Hamas are marginalised from sinking the peace process”, said Mr Phares.
Mr Phares, a Lebanon-born scholar who advises the House of Representatives caucus on counter-terrorism, said that Mr Romney would ensure that the Iranian regime does not gain nuclear weapons as a core component of his national security agenda.
According to Mr Phares, President Barack Obama has not done enough to counter extremist forces in the Middle East. He said that long before Al Qaeda’s murder of the US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, it should have been obvious that jihadism was growing across the region.
“While still operational and on the rise in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al Qaeda is spreading in Yemen, in Somalia, across the Sahel and has established an entity in northern Mali. Its allies, Boku Haram, are wreaking havoc in Nigeria.”
Mr Phares argued that Obama has disengaged from the push for freedom and democracy for the peoples of the region and instead sought to cut deals with dictatorships or to partner with radical movements and potential authoritarians rising out of the Arab Spring, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
In his Cairo speech in 2009, Mr Obama “neglected the role of seculars and reformers in civil societies, ignored the oppression of ethno-religious minorities and concentrated on partnering the Islamists”, said Mr Phares.
According to Mr Phares, there is general unwillingness on the government’s part to deal with jihadist ideology. “The public was made to believe that Osama Bin Laden created jihadism, while it is the other way around. The factory is the network of madrassas and jihadi indoctrination.”
Asked about Mr Romney’s controversial plan to arm the Syrian opposition, Mr Phares explained that the move would be “based on what Syria we want to see in the future, not on simply bringing down Assad”. Only players who were “ready to engage in a partnership based on common values and common interests” would, after a case-by-case study, be supported.