#OrangeAlert to MENA: This Is Not Normal.

Americans may remember the cryptic “Orange Alerts” created during President Bush’s tenure as our 43rd U.S. President.  In response to 9/11, terror warnings came out in color code. Red was the worst: attack occurring. Green was normal. Yellow was in-between.  Orange was…strange, but something bad will happen…we just can’t tell you how or when.  Then this system was phased out during the Obama years.  Then, a new orange phase began.

Last July in Lebanon, several Lebanese friends expressed pity that a U.S. presidential candidate displayed such petty, unpresidential (now is a word), xenophobic behavior.  It was simply abnormal to see such a xenophobe come so far as the future leader of a free nation.  Mind you, at that time, Lebanon still did not have a president, which was not normal.  But at every opportunity possible, they asked, “HOW did a famous businessman, whose financial interests intersect so many political figures (donations to both GOP and Democratic senators) come so far in the U.S. presidential race?” Mind you: the country without a president later elected a president who represents oligarchic interests too--one of the very issues they had protested in the #YOUStink campaign. (By everyone, we are including all taxi drivers who provide more alternative political theories than one can jot down.)   Maybe writing an ethnocentric post will help identify why the 45th American president’s executive “power” moves are taking place.

It is truly ironic, that one of the most ego-centric, narcissistic leaders in the modern era, is promulgating policy that FORCE the Middle East & North Africa region to notice him as much as the consequences of his Executive Orders.  The speed and impulsiveness behind these Executive Orders are not normal.  This is not normal.  As a result, this will not be a normal post.  Rather, writing this will be an ethnocentric U.S. post. –which PITAPOLICY tries to avoid because MENA’s political economy is a topic that deserves its own blog.  We will cover the illogical, self-defeating nature of the 45th U.S. Administration’s Executive Orders that directly impact the MENA region.  From here on out, 45th U.S. Administration of DJT, his V.P., Mike Pence, and Strategy Advisor, Steve Bannon, will be referred to as: 45.

Going to Jerusalem

Day 2: Let us begin with 45’s announcement to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  (Skipping Day 1 because 45’s inaugural speech failed to outline a vision for peace or positive engagement– while inviting settlers from illegal settlements in Palestinian territories.  However, there are some cautionary remarks from Imam Majid that specify the need for “tribes and nations” to convene, at the Inaugural Church Service.) This is unprecedented, except for the fact that 45 literally announced his intention to do so in 2016. Yes, seriously.  Very few media outlets took this seriously though–maybe for good reason.  What is this good reason?  Well, since 1947, the United Nations declared a partition plan placing Jerusalem under international control.  Jerusalem belonged to everyone and no one–meaning not as a Jewish or Arab state capital. The 1947-1948 war left Israel in control of the western part of the city, with Jordan taking the east.  YET, Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, effectively annexing it in 1980.  Still, American foreign policy media, like The Atlantic,  report that 45 may not follow through with this hawkish move because he is trying to demonstrate his power of words without actually fulfilling his promise.  That is debatable.  We will have to wait until June 2017, which is when the Presidential Waiver to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem is up for review.  Regardless of political party, this waiver has been renewed since 1995.  45’s rhetoric and decision highlights that he fails to understand how to prioritize diplomacy initiatives as he could certainly be using his political capital to negotiate illegal settlements or clamp down on his proposed trade deals.  Elevating a trivial priority, such as relocating an embassy, despite legal precedence and advise, is not normal.

Challenge Iraqi Sovereignty: Seize Iraq’s Oil Part III

Day 2 and again Day 4: At his first press conference, which happened to be at the CIA, DJT announced that the U.S. “may have another chance” to just take oil from Iraq.  Remember, DJT argued taking Iraqi oil back in his campaign.  To be precise: he stated this in his interview with Matt Lauer on September 7th, 2016.

leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil. … You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils. Now, there was no victor there, believe me. There was no victor. But I always said: Take the oil.”

45 has consistently argued that American interests lie in seizing other countries’ resources, however unethical.

 The dummies left Iraq (and Libya) without the oil!

Essentially, 45 is using the pretext of battling the ISIL movement to occupy Iraq, and commandeer its oil reserves.  Meanwhile, he remains ignorant of Iraq’s current effort in battling ISIL with the support of a $5.3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.  45 continues to echo the rallying war cries of infamous dictators, like Saddam Hussein, when he calls for invading another country for its resources.  This is not normal.

Reintroducing Torture

Day 6: Adding to the “This is not normal” course of executive action, 45 drafted an Executive Order to reintroduce torture, despite top military officials, like General Michael Hayden (former National Security Agency appointee), warning against such measures.  This is not normal.

The Muslim Ban That Distracted

On Days 7-9: 45 decided–without any legal or legislative consultation from the judicial or congressional bodies of power–to ban immigrants, legal aliens, tourists, and refugees from seven countries with majority Muslim populations. As hundreds of thousands of Americans (civilians, veterans, and retired generals) protested, 45 moved to replace all high ranking officials in the National Security Council and installing Steve Bannon, a known white-supremacist, with the highest security post in American government.

These countries (Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya) excluded countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt–places –to provide cover for 45’s pretext of not banning “all Muslims” just bad people. DJT’s apologists would argue further, that this was not a “Muslim ban”, but a protection for religious minorities who needed to seek refugee from Syria or Iraq–and that Muslims in those countries were not religious minorities.  At the same time, one cannot help but note the coincidence of 45 banning people from countries where he has no personal financial interests, but DJT does have financial interests in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, countries where the 9/11 hijackers originated from–if one refers back to the reason he cited in his Executive Order calling for the travel ban.  He has eight companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Not to mention, he also has conflicts of interest in Turkey, as reported by The Atlantic:

“I have a little conflict of interest ‘cause I have a major, major building in Istanbul. It’s a tremendously successful job.”

Moreover, DJT has financial interests in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and

His administration determined that extreme vetting was the new U.S. policy in the interests of “national U.S. security”, as described in the Executive Order’s transcript below.  In effect 134 million people were detained, sequestered, or literally sent back to their country of departure–including Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemeni refugees who had sold their homes and lost their livelihoods.  This is not normal.

PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.
Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.
In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Sec. 2. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.
Sec. 3. Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern. (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.
(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.
(c) To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).
(d) Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.
(e) After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.
(f) At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.
(g) Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.
(h) The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall submit to the President a joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 30 days of the date of this order, a second report within 60 days of the date of this order, a third report within 90 days of the date of this order, and a fourth report within 120 days of the date of this order.
Sec. 4. Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for All Immigration Programs. (a) The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall implement a program, as part of the adjudication process for immigration benefits, to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission. This program will include the development of a uniform screening standard and procedure, such as in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.
(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall submit to the President an initial report on the progress of this directive within 60 days of the date of this order, a second report within 100 days of the date of this order, and a third report within 200 days of the date of this order.
Sec. 5. Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017. (a) The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. During the 120-day period, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Homeland Security and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, shall review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures. Refugee applicants who are already in the USRAP process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures. Upon the date that is 120 days after the date of this order, the Secretary of State shall resume USRAP admissions only for nationals of countries for which the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined that such additional procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.
(b) Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.
(c) Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.
(d) Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest.
(e) Notwithstanding the temporary suspension imposed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.
(f) The Secretary of State shall submit to the President an initial report on the progress of the directive in subsection (b) of this section regarding prioritization of claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution within 100 days of the date of this order and shall submit a second report within 200 days of the date of this order.
(g) It is the policy of the executive branch that, to the extent permitted by law and as practicable, State and local jurisdictions be granted a role in the process of determining the placement or settlement in their jurisdictions of aliens eligible to be admitted to the United States as refugees. To that end, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall examine existing law to determine the extent to which, consistent with applicable law, State and local jurisdictions may have greater involvement in the process of determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions, and shall devise a proposal to lawfully promote such involvement.
Sec. 6. Rescission of Exercise of Authority Relating to the Terrorism Grounds of Inadmissibility. The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Attorney General, consider rescinding the exercises of authority in section 212 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182, relating to the terrorism grounds of inadmissibility, as well as any related implementing memoranda.
Sec. 7. Expedited Completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System. (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President periodic reports on the progress of the directive contained in subsection (a) of this section. The initial report shall be submitted within 100 days of the date of this order, a second report shall be submitted within 200 days of the date of this order, and a third report shall be submitted within 365 days of the date of this order. Further, the Secretary shall submit a report every 180 days thereafter until the system is fully deployed and operational.
Sec. 8. Visa Interview Security. (a) The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.
(b) To the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary of State shall immediately expand the Consular Fellows Program, including by substantially increasing the number of Fellows, lengthening or making permanent the period of service, and making language training at the Foreign Service Institute available to Fellows for assignment to posts outside of their area of core linguistic ability, to ensure that non-immigrant visa-interview wait times are not unduly affected.
Sec. 9. Visa Validity Reciprocity. The Secretary of State shall review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal insofar as practicable with respect to validity period and fees, as required by sections 221(c) and 281 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1201(c) and 1351, and other treatment. If a country does not treat United States nationals seeking nonimmigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State shall adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of United States nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable.
Sec. 10. Transparency and Data Collection. (a) To be more transparent with the American people, and to more effectively implement policies and practices that serve the national interest, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall, consistent with applicable law and national security, collect and make publicly available within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter:
(i) information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later;
(ii) information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and
(iii) information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including honor killings, in the United States by foreign nationals, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and
(iv) any other information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, including information on the immigration status of foreign nationals charged with major offenses.
(b) The Secretary of State shall, within one year of the date of this order, provide a report on the estimated long-term costs of the USRAP at the Federal, State, and local levels.
Sec. 11. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE, January 27, 2017

 


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