Dr Khalaf Al-Habtoor is a UAE based businessman, writer and philanthropist and spoke briefly about Iran, Syria, terrorism and DAESH.
He started out by stating he traveled to the US from the Arabian Gulf not the Persian Gulf. He questioned quickly if the US was a partner to the Arab nations or Iran. He reminded the audience that Iran is the biggest supporter of global terrorism and has a clear goal of domination in the Middle East region. He noted that now the US is backing that policy.
Further on Iran he felt the US and West were blinded by economic outcomes with Iran. He suggested the US could have simply just handed their money directly to the regional terrorsists. He noted Obama and Kerry were naive to believe the US money would go to the Iranian people. He reminded us the Iranian regime has never cared about its people.
He highlighted three major challenges for the next US president and noted their policy will either strengthen or weaken the enemy of the Arab world.
2. The worsening global refugee crisis
3. Results from a lack of education and responsible media outlets.
Habtoor noted the US must recover from years of failed Middle East policies like the illegal invasion of Iraq.
He questioned the US claim to be a “defender of human rights” while they ignore the Syria atrocity. He asked why the butcher Assad was still in power and why Sryia, Russia and Iran aren’t being taken to the ICC.
He repeated the oft used line that Islam is a religion of peace and that means that DAESH (ISIS) aren’t Muslims. He asked that people not use the term “Islamic State” for this reason.
He believes that the threat of terrorism worldwide is worse than ever in his lifetime. He believes that terrorism is fed by poverty and a lack of health, education and shelter. (This is at odds with current recruit data of ISIS fighters.) Habtoor pledged $20 million USD to start a program to alleviate poverty and called for partners in this venture. He points to Hizb’Allah and DAESH as the leaders in terrorism.
He called for the next US president to listen to their Arab partners and to be an ethical and transparent leader that doesn’t use scare tactics.
Finally on Iran and Syria.
Could Iran ever be a partner of or in the GCC?
If they cared for their own people and stopped supporting terrorism. He feels a daily threat from the Iranian regime.
Why aren’t the Arab states leading on the Syria crisis?
If the US and West showed leadership and made sound decisions in Syria (like a no-fly zone) than the Arab states would join in. No one wants to lead in Syria.
Last year Habtoor stunned the audience by backing his business partner Trump for president. He later walked it back. Today he didn’t offer his presidential support to either candidate by name.
His new book is called
Is Anybody Listening?:
How world leaders ignored prescient warnings on the Middle East.