Who is Trump's new MidEast Advisor? Meet Walid Phares
President-elect Trump has announced political pundit and academic Walid Phares as his choice for Middle East advisor. Phares told Al Arabiya that he met Trump last December while he was pitching his consultancy services to five Republican presidential candidates, the Lebanese-born Maronite Christian has positioned himself as an expert on the threat of radical Islam. He’s a prolific writer with a bent towards Islamophobia, and a frequent guest on Fox News.
Last August, the CATO Institute – a think tank dedicated to public policy research – decried then- candidate Trump for his choice of foreign policy advisors (which at the time included Phares) declaring that he was “freezing out and discrediting the serious scholars who have been challenging the elite consensus for years, is making it less likely that we will have [a cohesive foreign policy].”
Trump campaigned on overturning decades of US foreign policy, and Phares agrees. They support recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. They urge unraveling the Iran arms deal, and hint at squashing Palestinian ambitions for a separate state. But the most provocative aspect of Phares is his pre-US-citizenship past.
A 2011 investigation by Mother Jones revealed he was once a leading ideologue in the Lebanese Forces' Fifth Bureau, a unit that specialized in psychological warfare during Lebanon's violent sectarian conflict in the 1980s. Phares may not have fired a gun, but he trained militants in ideological beliefs that justified the war against Lebanon's Muslims and Druze, an act that has some scholars accusing him of war crimes – specifically when Phalangist militia slaughtered hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites in Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
Buckle that seatbelt, and say hello to Trump’s new Middle East advisor.