After meeting with White House officials to once again urge the Obama administration to launch a war on Syria, American Islamists led by the Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award-winning Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) held yet another of their Syria-related press conferences. This latest one was staged in front of the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. to condemn Russian military assistance to Syria. Last week Russia began an air campaign directed at Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist organizations. The joint Russian-Syrian operation was undertaken after an official request from the legitimate Syrian government and months of planning by the Russian and Syrian military leaderships. Nevertheless, CAIR and the usual cast of U.S. Islamists, which included the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), decided to condemn Russia’s military operation in Syria, as if these impudent charlatans are entitled to offer an unsolicited opinion about, let alone a condemnation of, a bilateral relationship between two independent sovereign states. Clearly, they have adopted the same paternalistic, condescending and colonial mentality of the U.S political class in front of which they made a career out of groveling.
As usual at these increasing Syria related events organized by CAIR, most of the participants are not Syrian. The Syria-American Council (SAC), a US front for the small Muslim Brotherhood (MB) element within the Syrian-American community, was the only ostensibly Syrian group at the press conference. Because SAC has hardly any grassroots support among Syrian-Americans, it has been increasingly coordinating its activities with CAIR, which is well-funded and organized, and with whose Arab-American contingent it shares the right-wing MB ideology and an overlap of leadership. Ironically, this is not unlike the Syrian “revolution” that couldn’t find sufficient support among Syrians and had to go look outside of Syria for foreign funding, fighters and mercenaries.
After about fifteen minutes of some old and new lies and a heavy dose of pseudo-moralistic ranting, the organizers proceeded to the climax of their production. Once the videographer hired by CAIR strategically positioned the video camera in front of the Russian embassy gate, the media stunt turned into a spectacle as the handful of self-appointed spokespersons of the Syrian-American and U.S. Muslim communities arrived at the gate to deliver a letter to the ambassador. One of the participants walked up the intercom, pushed a button and asked to speak to the ambassador, a request that was naturally and expectedly denied. At that point the amateurish propaganda event turned hilarious as Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of CAIR, leaned forward to lecture, in a heavily accented Middle-Eastern English, the embassy intercom on the importance of courtesy in America:
“This is a basic courtesy in America. When someone comes to your door to deliver a message you should have the courtesy at least of opening the door and receiving the message and we appreciate that. If you’re not willing even to open your door and receive the message, that says a lot more, unfortunately, about your attitude.”
Awad’s transparent attempt to pander to anti-Russian sentiments for the edification of a Washington audience would have been nothing more than a juvenile attempt to garner cheap publicity had he not crossed the line into anti-Russian bigotry. This was clearly evident in his suggestion that Russian culture and society, unlike prevailing standards and expectations in America, does not value common courtesy and polite interaction between human beings. Ironically, it is American politicians which CAIR panders to on a regular basis, that are far less courteous and polite than any of their counterparts in any other country, including Russia. Has anyone ever listened to the obnoxious, obscene and disrespectful rhetoric and attitude of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, or Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, just to mention a few of the most popular U.S. politicians among CAIR and the let’s-bomb-Syria clique?
These US Islamists do not represent any significant segment of Syrian-Americans or the US Muslim community and they certainly do not represent the Syrian people or their national aspirations. Those who truly care about ending the suffering of the Syrian people would call on the U.S. regime and its clients in the region to stop fomenting violence in Syria. What CAIR and the US Islamists are pursuing is not what the Syrian people (incidentally, Syrians have now surpassed the Palestinians in the number of people that claim to speak on their behalf) themselves are asking for which is an end to a foreign-instigated campaign of violence and terrorism in their towns and cities. Rather, they are advocating on behalf of the MB agenda, and it is no coincidence that their specific foreign policy recommendations (for some reason they are always advising the US regime on how to be a more effective imperialist power) are in total alignment with the publicly stated objectives of the MB in Syria and the Turkish government which is among their main sponsor in the region.
The Arab MB contingent within CAIR dominates the decision-making process of the organization at the national level and in most of the large and active chapters across the country, especially when it comes to foreign policy advocacy. This component within the self-described “civil rights and advocacy group” has been increasingly open about its support for the MB agenda and policies in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt and Syria. As the MB in Egypt, during its very brief stint in power, enjoyed a honeymoon period with the U.S., and especially after it allied itself with U.S. imperial objectives in Syria, CAIR became much less reluctant to openly advocate for policies easily recognizable as intended to further MB goals and objectives. This element within CAIR, although a small minority, enjoys a decisive advantage over other uninitiated, but well-intentioned activists within the organization that are unfamiliar with Arab politics, lack Arabic language skills, and do not have any connections to the Arab world. It is through these Arab connections that the oil & gas dictatorships of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have become CAIR’s biggest benefactors. This also explains why CAIR also carefully calibrates its political line with the policies of the GCC. Here again, these so-called moderate Arab states are American “allies” which makes it politically convenient, and even necessary for an organization pursuing mainstream acceptance, to support these tyrannical regimes.
The U.S. Muslim community, which CAIR, despite its grandiose claims, does not speak for is starting to wake up to this corrosive element. There is a world of difference between fighting Islamophobia and advocating for civil rights in the U.S. and lobbying the US regime on behalf of the MB. Genuine, well-intentioned activists (and we at ikhras are in touch with many of them) joined CAIR to fight Islamophobia and defend civil rights. They did not sign-up to fight for the MB and GCC political ambitions in the Arab world. These activists must choose between standing-up to the MB contingent within their midst and allowing their organization to become little more than a lobbying arm for the MB and the Arab Oil-Sheikhs. CAIR would not be the first organization to go down this path. GCC funding has turned the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee into an empty shell of an organization that does little more than maintain a website and host a Saudi prince at a banquet or “gala” (we haven’t figured out the difference yet) once a year.
For those of us, Arab-Americans, U.S. Muslims, and all people of conscience in this country from all backgrounds, who care about Syria and the Syrian people, we must demand an end to the imperialist aggression on Syria, an end to US sponsorship of the Zionist colonial project in Palestine and its occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, the removal of all U.S. military bases from the Middle East, and an end to U.S. imperial domination in order to ensure the full sovereignty and independence of all nations and states. These are the national aspirations of the Syrian people for which they have so courageously fought and sacrificed so much in blood and treasure over the last almost five years. They are also the national aspirations of all peoples of the Middle East. It is their voices we in the U.S. must amplify.