Trump team and the Iran challenge

Pierre Ghanem
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It is not important that Michael Flynn, the National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, has resigned. I know the press is interested in the topic and that viewers are following up on the White House scandals.

However, the truth remains that Trump has surrounded himself with a group of military men who are hostile to Iran and who believe that radical Islam threatens the security of the US. Retired Lieutenant General Micheal Flynn was only one of these men.


Let’s take a look at the list. Keith Kellogg, who is now serving as the Acting National Security Advisor, worked in Baghdad in 2003 and was a witness to Iranian infiltration and escalation of al-Qaeda violence against American troops.

On Tuesday, the Department of Defense announced sending General Joseph Rank, the American military attaché in the UAE, to head the Middle East team in the National Security Council (NSC). Practically, he is in charge of coordinating and planning Trump’s policies toward the region.

I don’t remember that former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama hired generals in charge of the Middle East affairs in the NSC. The current Secretary of Defense is James Mattis. He too served in Iraq and he was the commander of the Central Command when shelling Iran was an option.

the truth remains that Trump has surrounded himself with a group of military men who are hostile to Iran and who believe that radical Islam threatens the security of the US

Pierre Ghanem

When asked about what worries him, Mattis replied: Iran..Iran..Iran.” His department is also responsible for fighting terrorism all the way from North Africa to Pakistan. The Secretary of Homeland Security is John Kelly and he is in charge of border security, travelers and immigrants’ entrance into the US and the infiltration of terrorists into the US. Kelly lost his son in the Afghanistan war.

When current director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, was in the House of Representatives, he opposed the Iranian nuclear agreement and he considered the Iranians to be the masters of lying. He’s also well-known for opposing radical Islam.

Lone civilian

Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, is the only civilian among the list. During the hearing session at the Congress, he said: “The demise of ISIS would allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

I am listing these figures’ biographies so that we can take a thorough look at the members of this team and imagine them around the table in the White House Situation Room when Trump sits to discuss security threats confronting the US and the first answer will be that they all oppose Iran and radical Islam.

The names proposed to succeed Flynn include two generals who have experience in the war against terrorism and against Iran. The first one is David Petraeus who led American escalation against al-Qaeda in Iraq and who witnessed the Iranian attacks, either directly or through militias, of American soldiers in Iraq. He later became the director of the CIA.

The other general is Robert Harward a former admiral and member of Navy SEALs. He was the former Deputy Commander of the Central Command and he also worked in the National Counterterrorism Center. Truth is that President Trump replaces one general with another.

Truth also is that Trump chose these military men because he believes that Iran poses a security threat and intervenes in the region’s affairs and that militias affiliated with it threaten the stability and safety of international navigation. Trump is the one who believes that radical Islam poses a threat to US security.

Flynn’s departure is not important. Just hope for a meeting between these men and Trump.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Pierre Ghanem is an Al Arabiya correspondent based in Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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