Small Wars Journal

The Washington Face of Islamic Extremism: Saudi Arabian and Iranian Use of U.S. Lobbyists and Other Proxies to Disrupt Decisive U.S. Decision-Making

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 6:10am

The Washington Face of Islamic Extremism: Saudi Arabian and Iranian Use of U.S. Lobbyists and Other Proxies to Disrupt Decisive U.S. Decision-Making

Darren E. Tromblay

Iran and Saudi Arabia are both exporters of extremism that fuels kinetic terrorist attacks. These countries are uniquely dangerous: the former represents the primary source of Shiite terrorism while the latter is a notorious purveyor of Sunni-sponsored violence. Although these states exploit significantly different ideologies for their own purposes, they share a common characteristic – both Riyadh and Tehran attempt to manipulate U.S. policymaking through lobbying that sows confusion about culpability, even as activities sponsored by both countries degrade the interests of the United States and its adversaries. Identifying how the influence apparatuses of both of these countries disrupt confident U.S. decision-making will bring the United States one step closer to reaching consensus about and implementing measures that decisively counter these governments’ perpetuation of hate.


The Iranian government has provided support to a variety of external terrorist organizations. The United States designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. Iran uses its own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), according to the U.S. Department of State, to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East.[1] The IRGC-QF is Iran’s “primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad”.[2] Tehran also supports terrorist proxies including Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups including Hamas, and Iraqi Shia terrorist groups.[3]

Despite the Iranian regime’s heinous history, multiple individuals have agreed to conduct public affairs activities on behalf of Tehran. Bijay A. Sepasy, starting in 1991, monitored developments in U.S. foreign policy as it pertained to the interests of Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.[4] In his 1992 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing, Sepasy indicated that he would focus on issues including lifting U.S. trade restrictions on Iran and that his work would include interactions with U.S. government officials.[5] In 2005, Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations obtained the services of Mark Edmond Clark. According to Clark’s filings between 2005 and 2008, he consistently helped Iran to collect and analyze information by providing “occasional reports on US – Iran relations in coordination with Mission staff for the Mission’s sole and exclusive use” and furnishing “written and oral reports on US – Iran relations based on discussions with US foreign and defense policy experts”.[6] When contacted by the publication Politico, Clark claimed claimed that he was not a “lobbyist” for Iran but instead provided research for his client.[7] Clark, as of 2008, also indicated that he would help the Iranian mission to formulate policy options.[8] Interestingly, Clark’s public writing was consistent with a pro-Iran perspective. The well-respected publisher, Routledge, released the book Terrornomics, which featured a chapter by Clark titled “An Analysis of the Iranian Diaspora in the Financial Support System of the Mujahedin e-Khalq”.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings indicate that Iranian engagement of registered public affairs professionals has been sporadic. There are indications that Iran may operate through culturally-oriented organizations, rather than traditional Washington, DC, lobbyists, in furtherance of influence objectives. In mid-1992, the Forum on American-Iranian Relations (FAIR) Foundation registered as a representative of the Government of Iran.[9] This group was to receive USD 120,000 from the Government of Iran over a period of six months and planned to sponsor a variety of functions including studies, seminars, lectures, and public discussions of matters pertaining to Iranian and American relations.[10] This was not Iran’s first attempt to use an ostensibly cultural organization as a proxy for intelligence activities in the United States. A 1984 FBI analysis identified the Muslim Student Association’s Persian Speaking Group (MSA-PSG) as an extension of the Iranian regime which received funding through Iran’s Interests Section (the Iranian presence in lieu of a formal embassy) in Washington, DC. Furthermore, a group known as Anjoman Islamie, which operated primarily under the auspices of the MSA-PSG, fulfilled various intelligence functions – including the spread of propaganda including magazines and brochures – on behalf of the Iranian government.[11] Anjoman Islamie received funds from the Iranian government through either the Iranian Interests Section or the Mostazafin Foundation – an Iranian government front company – in New York City.[12]

Developments since 2001 suggest that Iran may continue to rely on such culturally oriented organizations as proxies (even if those organizations are unwitting that they are viewed in this light). For instance, in 2006, Javad Zarif – now Iran’s Foreign Minister – referred to welcoming help from Trita Parsi, who helped found the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in 2001.[13] NIAC formed its own, dedicated lobbying arm – NIAC Action – in 2015.[14] However, the agenda that NIAC has propounded over the years indicates that it shares the interests of the Iranian regime, even if it is not working strictly at the behest of Tehran. For instance, it opposes designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity.[15] Furthermore, as of 2009, NIAC wanted the U.S. Congress to cut off funding for democracy promotion in Iran.[16] Tehran may perceive it easier, more effective, and less expensive simply to ride the coattails of well-connected organizations such as NIAC – which promote agendas that align with Iranian viewpoints - rather than hiring U.S. public affairs professionals.   

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s devotion of significant resources to shaping U.S. policymaking cannot exculpate it from its role as the Sunni extremist counterpart to Iran’s fueling of Shia militancy. One of Riyadh’s most prominent legacies is having provided 15 of the 19 hijackers who perpetrated the September 11 attacks. The ugliness of the propaganda material that Saudi Arabia has continued to produce is indicated by the Islamic State’s adoption of official Saudi textbooks for its schools until the terrorist group could produce its own material.[17] Saudi Arabia’s government is notorious for exporting the extremist Wahhabi strain of Islam internationally. The Cultural Department of the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, advised Muslims not to take U.S. citizenship, because, according to the Cultural Department publication, the United States was governed by infidels.[18] Furthermore, the Saudi government has attempted to sow division with American society, encouraging the maintenance of a “wall of resentment” between Muslims and non-Muslims, as this will facilitate jihad.[19]

This has directly impacted the United States. In 1998, the King Fahd Mosque – the first Islamic center in North America to be fully funded by the Saudi royal family - opened in Los Angeles, California.[20] (Saudi money has helped to finance 16 American mosques.[21]) It is possible that this location functioned as a platform for terrorist activities. Fahad al Thumairy, who was an accredited diplomat at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, was also employed as an imam at the mosque and, according to the 9/11 Commission report, may have played a role in helping the 9/11 hijackers to establish themselves once they arrived in California.[22] The United States deported al-Thumairy in 2003.[23] Then, in 2004, the United States revoked the diplomatic visas of more than a dozen staff members who worked for the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Falls Church, Virginia.[24] The Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was the chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees and the school was further linked to the Saudi state by virtue of its affiliation with the Saudi state-run university system and funding from the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education.[25] Extremism was no stranger to the Institute – its curriculum referred to the “ruinous” effect of Christian beliefs and among its lecturers was an individual who provided two of the September 11 hijackers with spiritual direction.[26]

Despite Saudi support for extremist activities on U.S. soil, Riyadh expects a favorable reception from U.S. policymakers for the agenda that its public affairs proxies peddle. One of the most recent Saudi lobbying initiatives focused on disrupting passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) – which would have made Saudi Arabia liable for terrorist attacks conducted by its citizens. The law was originally passed by Congress and presented to President Obama on September 12, 2016, vetoed by Obama on September 23, 2016, and overridden by legislators on September 28, 2016.  The clear focus on interfering with this piece of legislation was apparent in FARA filings. On September 25, 2016, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs enlisted Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP to “[c]ommunicate with Members of Congress and members of the executive branch regarding the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and JASTA’s passage into law”.[27] The firm of King & Spalding registered, on September 26, 2016, on behalf of the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment to provide the Ministry with “advocacy and legal services related to the veto override of S. 2040, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act”.[28] In addition to these firms, which explicitly stated their complicity in disrupting policy on behalf of a foreign client, several other firms provided services, under more generalized descriptions, to the Saudis. For instance, a lobbyist working for DLA Piper, a firm which Saudi Arabia employed since at least 2015, arranged meetings for the Saudis with Congressional leadership.[29] The timing of other hires, including Squire Patton Boggs and the Glover Park Group was consistent with Saudi push to disrupt JASTA.[30]

Even after Congress had passed JASTA, over the President’s veto, Saudi Arabia continued to employ public affairs firms to overturn the legislation. Measures included hiring the CGCN Group – an all-Republican firm – to “provide consulting and government relations counsel and support to the foreign principal in connection with foreign policy, legislative and public policy matters of interest”.[31] The inside-the-Beltway publication Politico characterized this addition as “a key addition to [the Saudi] lobbying blitz” against JASTA.[32] Saudi Arabia also appeared determined to create pressure on Congressmen and Senators from their home districts. Flywheel Government Solutions and Qorvis / MSL agreed, in October 2016, to represent the Saudi embassy in educating officials at the state level on JASTA, with the objective of creating greater awareness of the legislation, impacts, and potential consequences.[33] (This was not the first time that Saudi Arabia attempted to make their interests a local issue. Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, in which their nationals featured prominently, Qorvis advised its Saudi client to “[b]roaden reach of media campaign outside of Washington in order to reach average Americans” and “[b]uild allies in key states and Congressional districts”.[34]) Demands from constituents are a visceral concern to elected officials’ livelihood in comparison to the more remote problems of international relations.

Fighting JASTA was not the first time that Saudi Arabia waged a high-profile public affairs campaign to dispel perceptions that it sponsored terrorism. In October 2001, the Saudis signed a contract with Qorvis Communications, paying the firm USD 200,000 per month for advertising expenses, public affairs, and research.[35] (Qorvis was founded in 2000 and acquired, as of 2014, by the Publicis Groupe, a French firm, which planned to fold Qorvis into MSLGROUP.[36]) Through Qorvis, the Saudis also obtained the services of Patton Boggs.[37] The public affairs campaign – which ran television and radio spots in nearly every major U.S. media market – was meant to counter the anger and skepticism toward the country which had provided 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers.[38] However, in an apparent rebuke to their client, three of Qorvis’ founding partners quit the firm in December 2002, prompted, according to associates, by a deep discomfort with defending the Saudi government against facilitating terrorism.[39]

Qorvis’ activities on behalf of Saudi Arabia have drawn federal authorities’ scrutiny. The firm allegedly helped the Saudis to deceptively finance a 2002 media campaign – ostensibly the work of a group known as the Alliance for Peace and Justice – promoting Crown Prince Abdullah’s Middle East peace plan.[40] In late 2004, the FBI searched three of Qorvis’ offices in connection with a FARA inquiry, which was likely in reference to the 2002 Alliance for Peace and Justice ploy.[41] The Department of Justice did not ultimately file charges. Also in 2002, Qorvis received additional bad publicity in connection with its Saudi account when it refused to turn over documents to the House of Representatives’ government affairs committee inquiry regarding missing American children in Saudi Arabia.[42] According to the Wall Street Journal, Qorvis managing partner, Michael Petruzzello, spent several days “dodging federal marshals”, before finally turning over the requested documents.[43]


Shutting foreign government voices out from the halls of power is not a remotely realistic possibility. However, the particularly pernicious impacts of foreign-sponsored lobbying can be disrupted through a two-pronged approach. The first is ensuring that registrations under FARA (and to a lesser extent the Lobbying Disclosure Act) are both thorough and well-publicized. It is one thing for documentation to be filed away – whether in dusty physicality or via bits and bytes – and another for it to become an element of public discourse on a policy issue. Second, the U.S. government needs to carefully scrutinize voices, such as NIAC, that although independent, promote interests which align with those of hostile governments. This is not simply to protect the integrity of the policymaking environment but also to protect organizations themselves since, historically, opportunistic foreign intelligence services have attempted – repeatedly – to co-opt and exploit the credibility of respected organizations engaged in activities ranging from academia to advocacy.  

Saudi and Iranian influence operations against U.S. decision-makers – whether conducted via professional lobbyists or on the backs of ostensibly independent cultural organizations –impede the formulation of policies to effectively combat the brushfires of extremist Sunni and Shiite ideology that are so calculatingly fanned by Riyadh and Tehran. Influence operations by these countries do nothing less than aid and abet terrorism, as they make it more difficult for the United States to formulate and implement strategies that will prevent the emergence of violence from virulent rhetoric. Regardless of how legal and well-documented they might be, influence operations nonetheless confuse, confound, and even misdirect audiences – often turning the expertise of (well-compensated) U.S. public affairs professionals mercenarily against their own country’s interest.

End Notes




[5] August 11, 1992 (

[7] Aoife McCarthy. “Axis Nations Find Access to Representation”. Politico. March 12, 2007.



[11] Federal Bureau of Investigation. Threat Assessment of Pro-Khomeini Shiite Activities in the United States. January 1984. P. 11

[12] Federal Bureau of Investigation. Threat Assessment of Pro-Khomeini Shiite Activities in the United States. January 1984. P. 11

[13] Alex Shirazi. “The Shady Family behind America’s Iran Lobby”. Daily Beast. September 15, 2015.

[14] Alex Shirazi. “The Shady Family behind America’s Iran Lobby”. Daily Beast. September 15, 2015.

[15] Alex Shirazi. “The Shady Family behind America’s Iran Lobby”. Daily Beast. September 15, 2015.

[16] The Conviction of our Own Convictions. Remarks by Congressman Mark Kirk. November 4, 2009. (accessed March 27, 2017)

[17] Scott Shane. “Both Arsonists and Firefighters”. New York Times. August 26, 2016.

[18] Freedom House. Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques. 41

[19] Freedom House. Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques. 57

[20] John Dart. “Answered Prayers; Mosque Opens on Westside With Help from Saudi Royal Family”. Los Angeles Times. July 18, 1998.

[21] Scott Shane. “Both Arsonists and Firefighters”. New York Times. August 26, 2016.

[22] Freedom House. Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques. 3; Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. S. Rept. No 107. H Rept. No. 107. 107th Congress 2d Session. P 417

[23] Patrick J. McDonnell. “Saudi Envoy in L.A. Is Deported; Prayer leader at King Fahd Mosque is suspected of having links to terrorists, officials say”. Los Angeles Times. May 10, 2003.

[24] Glenn R. Simpson. “U.S. Revokes Diplomatic Visas Of Saudis at Religious School”. Wall Street Journal. January 30, 2004.

[25] Glenn R. Simpson. “Suspect Lessons: A Muslim School Used by Military Has Troubling Ties; Saudi Institute That Preaches Strict Form of Islam Trained Dozens of Troop Advisers; Dropped by the Pentagon”. Wall Street Journal. December 3, 2003; Freedom House. Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques. 3-4.

[26] Glenn R. Simpson. “Suspect Lessons: A Muslim School Used by Military Has Troubling Ties; Saudi Institute That Preaches Strict Form of Islam Trained Dozens of Troop Advisers; Dropped by the Pentagon”. Wall Street Journal. December 3, 2003.



[29] Joseph J. Schatz, Benjamin Oreskes, “Want to be a ‘Foreign agent’? Serve in Congress First”. Politico. October 2, 2016;; Isaac Arnsdorf. “Lott and Breaux lobby for Saudis”. Politico. September 23, 2016.


[31] Isaac Arnsdorf. “Saudis tap CGCN”. Politico. December 5, 2016.

[32]; Catherine Ho. “Saudi government adds to stable of lobbyists as lawmakers consider revisiting 9/11 law”. Washington Post. November 4, 2016.

[32] Judy Sarasohn. “Saudi Arabia a 'Fascinating Client' for Qorvis”. Washington Post. March 21, 2002.

[33] Catherine Ho. “Saudi government adds to stable of lobbyists as lawmakers consider revisiting 9/11 law”. Washington Post. November 4, 2016.



[36] Kevin Bogardus. “French ad giant buys Washington PR firm”. The Hill. January 10, 2014.

[37] Megan R. Wilson. “Saudis hire lobbyists amid 9/11 fight”. The Hill. September 23, 2016.

[38] Christopher Marquis. “Worried Saudis Pay Millions To Improve Image in the U.S. Open”. New York Times. August 29, 2002.

[39] Philip Shenon. “Saudis Face New Problem With Publicity”. New York Times. December 5, 2002.

[40]; Keith O’Brien. “Qorvis confident it has Acted properly in Light of Government Probe”. PRWeek.  December 19 2004. (

[41] Sari Horwitz and Dan Eggen. “FBI Searches Saudi Arabia's PR Firm”. Washington Post. December 9, 2004.

[42] Keith O’Brien. “Qorvis confident it has Acted properly in Light of Government Probe”. PRWeek.  December 19 2004. (

[43] William McGurn. “Saudi PR Turns From Spin To Stonewalling”. Wall Street Journal. December 16, 2002.



About the Author(s)

Darren E. Tromblay has served the U.S. Intelligence Community, as an Intelligence Analyst, for more than a decade. He is the author of The U.S. Domestic Intelligence Enterprise: History, Development, and Operations (Taylor & Francis, 2015) and co-author of Securing U.S. Innovation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Mr. Tromblay has been published by Lawfare, the Hill, Small Wars Journal, and Intelligence and National Security. He holds an MA from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, an MS from the National Intelligence University, and a BA from the University of California. Mr. Tromblay can be reached at This essay is adapted from his forthcoming book on the impact of foreign influence operations against U.S. policymaking, which will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018. The views expressed in this essay are entirely his own and do not represent those of any U.S. government or other entity.


Outlaw 09

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 2:48pm

I seriously doubt many even know this study exists..when we address both Shia and Sunni aspects of Islam....studies as this are critical....…

The Islamic Imagery Project

March 1, 2006

Author(s): Combating Terrorism Center

The study of Islamic imagery has been the exclusive domain of art historians and museum curators, with pre-modern art being the central area of interest. Thus, there is a palpable lack of information on modern imagery associated with political Islam, especially imagery that is produced by radical, and often violent, Muslim groups. Nowhere is the dearth of critical research more apparent than in the study of jihadi organizations. These organizations have had a brief but prolific history in the production and distribution of visual propaganda and have arguably created their own distinct genre of Internet-based Islamic imagery. While the tragic events of September 11 highlighted the importance of understanding the ideology and methods of jihadi groups, the process of achieving this understanding is still at the early stages, and the remaining areas of ignorance are profound.

The current study on jihadi imagery, the first of its kind, is an important step in this process. Herein, visual propaganda is considered to be more than just a host for textual messages; rather, it is treated as an expressive medium unto itself—one which communicates ideas just as effectively, and sometimes as explicitly as the written word. We regard jihadi imagery to be a primary vehicle for the communication and diffusion of jihadi ideas, and an essential tool utilized by radical ideologues, terrorist organizations, and sympathetic propagandists, which plays to the particular religious and cultural experiences of their audience. Therefore, understanding how these images work, what ideas they convey, why they are employed, and what responses they may elicit is vital to our struggle against the influence of jihadi organizations and the violence they create

They have been communicating with us for years..we just have not understood their visual langauge.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 2:32pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

THIS goes more to my comments......

Publishing jihadi critics exposes myth of jihadi unity, effectiveness, as we've seen on social media, says @hxhassan

Social media helps us to properly chart extremism
Hassan Hassan
April 16, 2017 Updated: April 16, 2017…

There are Sunni's and Shia out there in the social media world who have taken on IS and AQ on their own and get virtually no support other than other social media commenters....therein lies the total US failure in this info war..JUST as we are losing to the Russian info war....

The 3rd anniversary for raqqa is being slaughtered silently , 3 Years of reporting 3 years of Suffering .#Raqqa #Syria #RBSS

A terrible price paid by @Raqqa_SL for resisting #IS and #Assad. But still they continue to try to provide information to the outside world.

Right now we run from such social media engagement attempts.....

This is the BOTH the carrot and the stick....that I refer to....

EACH and every guerrilla war takes a totally different approach...what worked on the VN CORDS program will not work with serious jihadists.....

Face it we the US are basically failures when it comes to a robust 300% driven info war against anyone who is using info warfare against us..

Outlaw 09

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 12:07pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

BTW....if we really look behind the curtains of Iran and KSA..we would see an very deep ongoing political war for leadership of the entire global Muslim Community.....

It is deep and intense and we as outsiders looking in have no earthly understanding of that religious dispute....

BTW...what would have been the arugment about those attacking in 9/11 if the main attackers had been German.....

Ever notice that the Hamburg cell was the guidance mechanism for the whole was Germany behind 9/11????

Passports do not define the actual reasons for an attack..they are just a travel document to get one across an international border BUT they do not reveal the soul/beliefs of the bearer of the document....

We really do have to get away from that thinking pattern...

Outlaw 09

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 11:59am

I love it when such articles pop up on occassions as it truly reflects a total lack of understanding of the concept called "Islam" one of the three largest and most widepread of this earth's religions....

I wonder if we could place ourselves back into history and we were looking that the great religious wars of Europe between the then Catholic side and the Protestant side that were fought by large armies roaming across Europe killing anyone who was not of their specific religion and or who would not convert to their specific religion.....

AND which after about 1500 years finally worked out a compromise simply because there were virtually no human beings and or animals left in the central parts of Europe....

Which strangely sounds like what we are currently seeing in Iraq and Syria being played out.....WITH a healthy dose of superpower confrontation/competition just to make things far more interesting....

ADD in a dash of Shia and Sunni competition within Islam and we are seeing virtually the same sort of relgious infighting seen in Europe so many hundreds of years ago....

BUT as opposed to say the Catholic and Protestant sides where there were major leaders capable of providing guidance and defined political guidelines that then guided these two Islam we see Imans and Mullahs who can define the religious lives of their local Communities competing aginst four major Islamic Studies Centers setting their agenda as well in this mix........

BTW...we still have roughly 300 years to go until Islam reaches their internal solution if we compare it to the European model.....

In this debate we truly need writers who read and write Arabic...who thoroughly understand Islam and all of the internal ins and outs of the Koran...Sunnahs and the Shura's AND fully under the exact development of Shia'ism and Sunnism....AND ALL of it's variations not forgetting Sufiism which is actually a radical element inside Islam that many and I mean many including this writer tends to completely overlook...

AND who have truly spent time face to face with jihadist fighters...trying to understand their drive and belief system....

THEN we might get a better set of arguments and articles on this topic.

Yelling "Islamic Radicalism" in a crowded theater.....and no one leaves their seat.
This is an excellent article but I feel the problem is deeply rooted in our leaders who have blindly followed a script written before WWII and merely amended to alleviate the obvious end, failure.
The paradigm most often used to justify Islamist extremism in the face of encroaching modernity and post post colonial rule, first administrated by the Ottoman Empire for centuries and the west for a much briefer period, is opposition too the existence of Israel a Jewish Homeland in the midst of the Caliphates. Which is worse, Erdogan denying the persecution and genocide of Armenians and Christians ever took place or taking place, the extent of a barbaric Islamic trade in slavery surpassing the Wests or even Holocaust denial Islam supremacy is to be protected at all costs? Or the west anal fixation on a Two State Solution?
The most convoluted expression of this form of bigotry is certainly rooted in opposition to the western and modern non - Muslim state of Israel.
The Two State Solution has been the Holy Grail of the UN and liberal Presidents since before WWII. It is an obsolete ideal and has about as much merit as making cocoa and cookies for Santa Claus. In other words it is a tenet of Globalist ideology, ambition and not much more.
One of our exalted military leaders and justly so, LTG Mattis is weak on understanding the Israeli Arab conflict. Gaza is autonomous and almost immediately became a radical Islamic terrorist camp. The PA can barely make the claim they are in full control of their own 80% or more of the West Bank they do control and they can hold elections and govern themselves. Mattis does not seem to realize that Israeli settlements are contained in a narrow strip or how the Zones operate, a common maybe intentional aim by pro-Islamic elements to reduce the argument to control of Jerusalem and the Kotel. It has proven to be good propaganda for radical Islamists who can always excite opposition to Israel, and the West specifically the USA, by claiming some blasphemy has been committed at the Kotel or never to be said TEMPLE MOUNT. Heaven forbid a Jew or Christian be thought to be praying to their G-d in a heretical practice of Judaism and Christianity not sanctioned by the Imams; anywhere near the Temple Mount they think it is a cardinal crime.
From my point of view, admittedly a minority view, Mattis has two strikes going in, he has long been subjected to submitting to Islam in order to work with opposites in Islamic nations. One can fairly ask if he has perhaps gone native and why he is unable to question if a two state solution is possible or merely a facade erected like a Trojan Horse to subvert Israel's existence.
Mattis's second problem is that despite our high rate of success and the ability of Mattis, Petreaus and others tactically and in combat, COIN does not work unless the pro-actors go native if even to a limited extent, a fact they will never admit or consider because COIN does not work otherwise.
The higher you go the fewer negative feedback loops are permitted. Obama had, an incapability to recognize radical Islam should be named and addressed as a threat. Mattis also suffers from the same malady. But then watching how LTG Flynn was deposed by pro-Isamist factions in the DNC maybe Mattis is simply maneuvering for time until the stay behinds of the Obama Brotherhood can be rooted out and purged. With a more pro-American administration one can hope Mattis a quick study will rise above the old thinking one that is moribund in failure and devoted to it.
We have to start thinking outside of the box we have put ourselves in, whether it is a two state solution or trying to believe that Islamic Revolutionary States, Republics and Kingdoms are not rooted in theocratic radicalism, orchestrated by radical terrorist expressions like the Muslim Brotherhood reform movements dare not oppose unless willing to take considerable risks.