News / USA

US Congressional Panel Examines Terrorism Threat Posed by Libya, Mideast Unrest

US Congressional Panel Examines Terrorism Threat Posed by Libya, Mideast Unrest
US Congressional Panel Examines Terrorism Threat Posed by Libya, Mideast Unrest

A U.S. congressional panel has examined the threat posed to U.S. national security by the current unrest in a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East.  Several security experts told a House Homeland Security subcommittee Wednesday  that the al-Qaida terrorist group and its affiliates have been "irrelevant" in the wave of popular uprisings in the region, and that the United States needs to back the young people who are taking to the streets for democratic change.  

The Chairman of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee, Republican Congressman Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania said he welcomes the positive changes in Egypt and Tunisia, but he is worried that the unrest across the Middle East and North Africa could have ramifications for U.S. homeland security.  He said there were credible reports from Egypt, for example, that prisons were emptied and that a number of jailed Islamist radicals are now free.

"Quite simply hundreds of radicalized Islamists on the loose throughout the Middle East and North Africa is dangerous," Meehan said.

The ranking member of the panel, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California said that it is time for the United States to re-evaluate its long-standing relationships in the region, pointing out that Egypt and Tunisia have disbanded their long-feared state security forces.  

"For the first time in decades, relationships that we have relied on in the fight against terrorism are changing," she said.  "And in some cases we have to work with new partners who will not necessarily respect past security agreements and practices."

Speier said that the United States must learn more about who the rebels in Libya are, but she also stressed that Washington must make sure it supports the democratic ambitions of the people in the region.

All of the experts testifying at the hearing agreed that the United States has long supported goverments in the Middle East that appeared stable and friendly to U.S. interests, but were undemocratic.

Brian Katulis, a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress research group, put it like this.

"For decades we have been addicted to dictators," he said. "And it is like our addiction to foreign oil that a lot of people talk about.  We know it is bad for us, we know we need to move beyond it, we simply have not yet figured out how to move beyond it."

Katulis said the wave of unrest presents an opportunity for the United States to embrace a new generation of leaders, and that they should not be overly concerned about the influence of al-Qaida. Katulis and the other experts at the hearing agreed that up until now, al-Qaida has not played a real role in the wave of protests.

"Al-Qaida to date has been irrelevant in the popular uprisings and has been left behind," he said.

Philip Mudd of the New America Foundation said he believes al-Qaida has been hurt badly since their successful September 11th, 2001 attacks on the United States.  He said they hurt themselves by killing two many innocents.  And he said, if dictators continue to fall in North Africa and the Middle East, al-Qaida will lose the powerful recruiting tool of asking young people to join to fight scorrupt governments.  Mudd said the United States should engage with and provide aid to the new governments emerging in the Middle East and North Africa as long as they embrace non-violence and the rule of law.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid