“Letitia Jiju,” it seems, has never written a thing before, has no discernable online footprint, and yet the UAE based news organization, Gulf News, has run with “her” hit piece on Dr. Walid Phares. Why?
One clue might be Gulf News’ editor at large Francis Matthew. He has applauded the lifting of sanctions on Iran along with its “strategic understanding” with China, scolded Republican resistance to the Iranian nuclear agreement, and decried the pro-Israel position of both Presidential candidates, but reserving his ire especially for Donald Trump’s opposition to the Iran deal.
The article in question simply recycles the long ago discredited Mother Jones piece from 2011, written when Dr. Phares was advising Governor Romney during his campaign. “Ms. Jiju” (the phantom name of the person who actually assembled the tract) ignores all the previous articles rebutting Mother Jones’ assertions. Toni Nissi, the main source for the Mother Jones article, states unequivocally that author Adam Serwer twisted his words and took them out of context to make it seem as though Dr. Phares was involved with advising and directing the Christian militias during his years in Lebanon. Furthermore, Dr. Toufic Hindi who actually was a political advisor to the Commander of the Lebanese Forces, Dr. Samir Geagea, (a position “Ms. Jiju” assigned to Dr. Phares without any proof whatsoever), makes clear that Dr. Phares was not involved with the command or management of militias in any way. Hindi states:
Those imputations are false, and the people who are making them either don’t have any knowledge about Lebanon’s history and politics or they are making them with the goal of smearing a public figure in US politics. Here is why: Walid Phares was a young lawyer, an author, and a publisher between 1979 and 1986. Prior to that, he was a student in law and political sciences at St. Joseph University. His public career started very early at the age of 23 in 1979 when he published his first book in Arabic, Pluralism in Lebanon, while he was still a student, a book in which he portrayed the country as being multiethnic and argued the best form of solution to the internal conflict was a mutual recognition among its communities and a federal system.
“Letitia Jiju” also cites Ishaan Tharoor in the Washington Post who wrote extremely favorably of the nuclear deal. Daniel Larison chimed in to attack Phares in the American Conservative and, low and behold, here he is touting the nuclear deal as a “real success” in the same publication. Ben Smith jumped on the “Phares is scary” bandwagon back in 2011, and here he is in Buzzfeed suggesting Obama may have earned his Nobel Prize for the Iran deal. As’ad Abukhalil also called Phares “scary” in this Salon article. As it happens, this “Angry Arab” is also an apologist, one might even say a propagandist, for Hezbollah. As I wrote in Family Security Matters in 2011:
In the end we must disclose why we qualify Abukhalil, and his ilk, as “Hezbollah propagandists.” He appears constantly on Hezbollah-manned, Iranian-funded al Manar TV, banned by the US Government for incitement to violence and anti-Semitism. He also appears on Press TV, owned by the Pasdaran Iranian revolutionary Guards – but not to defend the US, rather to bash it. In addition he writes columns for the daily al Akhbar, funded by the Iranians in Beirut. And to top it off, by his own words and broadcast on US radio, he meets with the leader of a terrorist organization that killed hundreds of Americans in the Middle East, the man he calls “Sheikh Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.” It is ironic that, when Hezbollah guides terrorists in Iraq to kill US military, let alone been involved per the UN tribunal in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, As’ad Abukhalil is in the business of meeting with the head of a terrorist organization and bragging about it in public.
The editors of Gulf News have been attacking Donald Trump for months while the UAE was fighting the pro-Iranian Houthis in Yemen. How can that be? More research will show. But this particular piece was a clear attempt to smear the top advisor of Trump on the Middle East by using recycled and discredited Hezbollah lies. Dr. Phares was unscratched by the hack job, but Gulf News got hit with a major hit in its professional credibility
When all is said and done, Dr. Phares has opposed terrorism and championed democratic pluralism his entire life. He did not “reinvent” himself in America. Dr. Phares remains a champion of Arab and Muslim liberals. He helps civil societies in the region and has met repeatedly with leaders of NGOs. He has also met with liberal and moderate Sunnis and Shi’a clerics, which may be the reason why the Iranian-penetrated Gulf News used an unknown author to smear him. Tehran’s Ayatollahs fear him.
By John Hajjar, AMCTrump