|Zawahiri and Benghazi|
Commenting on the U.S. Congressional hearings on Benghazi, particularly the hearing sessions with Secretary Hilary Clinton, Dr. Walid Phares said the central question was and will continue to be: “How did the Administration perceive the Salafi militias operating in Benghazi, and in Libya in general?" The answer to that question would determine the resolutions to the most important issues broached in this hearing. Phares, a congressional advisor and the author of The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East, asserted, "If Washington considered the Salafist militias, and Ansar al Sharia was one of them, as partners in the fight against Gaddafi, then the readiness U.S. missions had towards engaging these militias would have been understandably low. But if the Administration considered these militias, many of which had ties to al Qaeda, as threats to the U.S., then the level of readiness was poor." Phares, who advised Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney on the Middle East, also argued that "tactical and local security considerations can be understood and analyzed only in the context of a larger threat situation. There is a disconnect that has not yet been addressed: the Administration worked with these Jihadi militias in one form or another. These forces were not on the map as a threat to U.S. national security because of a political determination that said forces were on the right side of history, and they were perceived as crucial in the transition to integration. Congress and special investigation committees ought to focus on this central issue and apparent disconnect first. Only after this posture is explained can one even begin to understand the implications of the rest of the questions."
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