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GOP lawmaker warns Biden: Don’t let Afghanistan and Taliban become the next Israel and Hamas

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National Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Glenn Grothman (R-WI) issued a stern warning during a hearing on US action in Afghanistan Thursday. “We must ensure that Afghanistan and the Taliban are not the next Israel and Hamas,” Grothman said. This comes after President Biden committed to removing all troops from the country by September 11 of this year.

The hearing was titled “Examining Next Steps for U.S. Engagement in Afghanistan” and Grothman pointed out that this was a long time coming. Former President Trump began returning troops in May 2020, the Wisconsin representative reminded fellow committee members.

“But we are here today to discuss ending America’s longest war,” Grothman said. “For nearly 20 years, the U.S. has had a military presence in Afghanistan. Peaking at over 100,000 soldiers. We have lost 2,448 heroes and another 20,722 have been injured.”

Grothman suggested that Trump had a better strategy in 2020, demanding that the Taliban disavow al-Qaeda before he removed all troops. However, Biden has not made such a condition and is removing troops anyway. “We must prioritize a withdrawal that stifles potential violence, protects against a vacuum of terror, maintains regional stability, and maintains social gains – especially those for Afghan women and girls,” Grothman said.

He also alluded that even when the troops are gone, there will still is work to be done. “It is likely the American taxpayer will continue to provide assistance to the Afghan government,” he said.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism

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In Wake of Abraham Accords, Saudi Arabia Revises Textbooks

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Follow Steve Postal: @HebraicMosaic

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In the aftermath of the 2020 Abraham Accords, which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman helped to broker behind the scenes, Saudi Arabia continues to slowly tilt towards reform. Most noticeably, it is continuing to improve its textbooks, previously a source of glorification of terrorism and anti-Jewish and anti-Christian hatred. According to a recent report analyzing the kingdom’s textbooks from 2022-2023, key reforms include the following:

Praise for jihad continues to be removed. The report notes that most problematic passages glorifying martyrdom and jihad had been removed from Saudi textbooks by 2021-2022, but this trend continues. Passages removed include a reference that “all sins of the martyr will be forgiven, except debt,” that jihad is “the climax of Islam” and that jihad means “fighting the enemies for the protection of religion, land, and worshipers.”

Problematic opinions on Jews and Christians removed. According to the report, Saudi Arabia has removed “almost all” defamatory anti-Jewish and anti-Christian textbook passages. Passages removed include: references that some Jews and Christians worship Satan and idols; that Allah turned some Jews into pigs and apes; that some Jews and Christians falsified Allah’s word; that Jews and Christians lied about prophets in the Torah and the New Testament; negative opinions of how Jews and Christians portray Jesus; implicit references of Jews and Christians as enemies of Islam; and that Jews and Christians are polytheists.

New criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood. In contrast to Qatar, who supports the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas, who is the Muslim Brotherhood branch that many Palestinians support, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have all recognized the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. In line with that stance, Saudi Arabia’s textbooks become increasingly critical of the Islamist movement. One textbook stated that groups formed under the Muslim Brotherhood “wreaked havoc in the country and among the people, as known and evident in crimes of violence and terrorism around the world.” Further, that textbook comments that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “deviant group based on arguing with rulers, rebelling against leaders, stirring up strife in countries, destabilizing coexistence in the unified nation, and describing Islamic societies as ignorant.” A second textbook warns that the Muslim Brotherhood “instigate(s) civil wars in countries” and is “a terrorist group.”

New criticism of other “deviant groups.” Further, one Saudi textbook labelled “Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Tablighi Jamaat, and other parties and sects” are “deviant groups” and “terrorist sects and parties” that “seek to divide societies, incite them, and exploit religion for their interests.” Another textbook labelled “The Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Hezbollah, the Houthis, the Sururiyya” as “errant groups” that are “purportedly religious but are in fact the opposite.”

“Slight” reforms on opinions on Israel and Zionism. The report qualifies that reforms on the portrayal of Israel and Zionism are “slight” but that those reforms are “are an encouraging sign that progress may include attitudes toward Israel and Zionism [in the future].” Saudi textbooks removed a libel falsely accusing Israel of the 1969 arson of the al-Aqsa mosque (which was carried out by an Australian Christian fundamentalist), an excerpt defining “patriotic poetry” to include that which “oppos[es] the Jewish settlement of Palestine,” and passages glorifying the First Intifada at Israel’s expense. However, textbooks continue to not recognize Israel, not include it in maps, and refer to it as an “occupying” power.

While Saudi Arabia still has room for improvement in reforming its textbooks, it has made significant headway in its education about jihad, Jews and Christians in recent years. These reforms, coupled with increased religious tolerance from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco, is a direct outgrowth of the Abraham Accords. The Biden administration should capitalize on this opening by formally bringing the kingdom into the Abraham Accords. Saudi Arabia’s ascension into the Accords would serve as a powerful check on Iranian and other Islamist forces, and advance American interests in the region.

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