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AAF: Calling Balls and Strikes on the First Minibus

AAF Executive Director on King of Jordan’s Remarks

February 13th, 2024

Advancing American Freedom issued the following statement after the King of Jordan’s remarks at the White House.

“Yesterday, the King of Jordan spewed incendiary Hamas talking points from the White House podium as President Biden idly watched,” said AAF Executive Director Paul Teller. “From a call to continue funding the terrorist-supporting UNRWA, to a baffling plea for an Israeli ceasefire before eradicating all Hamas terrorists, to the familiar antisemitic tropes about Israeli occupation, the King’s speech was riddled with nonsense from start to finish. This speech is just another example of the Biden Administration actively undermining Israel’s effort to restore peace to the Middle East. The policy of the United States must be that we stand with Israel.”

AAF: Calling Balls and Strikes on $95 Billion Foreign Aid Package

AAF Statement on House Foreign Affairs Advancing Key Legislative Priorities

February 7th, 2024

Advancing American Freedom issued the following statement after the House Foreign Affairs Committee favorably reported several of AAF’s key legislative priorities, bringing them one step closer to passage on the House floor.

“Advancing American Freedom expresses its sincere thanks to the leadership of Rep. Michael McCaul, Rep. Chris Smith, and the entire House Foreign Affairs Committee for marking-up and reporting three of AAF’s legislative priorities out of committee: Designating Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern, Defunding UNRWA, and redesignating the Houthi’s as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” said AAF Executive Director Paul Teller. “We will continue to support these important bills and urge Speaker Mike Johnson to expeditiously schedule them for floor consideration.”

AAF: Emergency Aid to Israel Should Be Offset

Over 70 Activists, Former Lawmakers Demand Biden Admin End Funding For UN Agency Over Hamas Scandal

February 5th, 2024

Over 70 policy experts, activists and former lawmakers sent a scathing message to Congress Monday, demanding that the United States permanently withdraw its funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) after multiple employees were found to have aided Hamas, according to a letter obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

In January, UNRWA announced that it had fired multiple employees after a leaked report found they may have helped Hamas attack Israel on Oct. 7, resulting in multiple countries, including the U.S., temporarily pulling funding. Advancing American Freedom, a conservative policy organization founded by former Vice President Mike Pence, sent the letter to Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, Democratic Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer and Republican Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell.

“The United States can no longer fund UNRWA with a clean conscience. For years, the American people were told a litany of lies aimed at creating a false understanding of UNRWA as simply a humanitarian organization that needed the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people to provide services for millions of Palestinians misleadingly characterized as ‘refugees,’” the letter says.

“The United States can no longer fund UNRWA with a clean conscience. For years, the American people were told a litany of lies aimed at creating a false understanding of UNRWA as simply a humanitarian organization that needed the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people to provide services for millions of Palestinians misleadingly characterized as ‘refugees,’” the letter says.

Two UNRWA teachers reportedly held an elderly Israeli woman and a young boy hostage separately, according to the Washington Free Beacon. UNRWA recently called for public donations after the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Austria withdrew their funding as well, saying that the money was desperately needed to help Palestinians in Gaza.

The U.S. donated over $1 billion since 2021 after President Joe Biden lifted former President Donald Trump’s decision to bar the U.S. from funding the agency due to concerns about ties to terrorism. Lawmakers proposed legislation in 2023 to halt more funding to the agency after reports found that taxpayers’ dollars often fell into the hands of Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, but the bill did not make it out of Senate committees.

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AAF’s Letter Demanding for the Defunding of UNRWA

Mike Pence’s AAF sends memo to lawmakers: ‘Biden doesn’t seem to want Israel to win’

January 31st, 2024

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s nonprofit political advocacy group sent a memo to Congress on Monday urging lawmakers to “hold the Biden administration” accountable for “slow-rolling” Israel’s war efforts.

The memo from Advancing American Freedom (AAF), titled “Biden Doesn’t Seem to Want Israel to Win” and obtained by Fox News Digital, outlines concerns that the Biden administration is undermining Israel’s efforts in the conflict with Hamas and criticizes Biden’s stance on calling for a cease-fire, pushing for a two-state solution and allegedly considering withholding military aid.

“Israel is fighting to ensure its existence. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is actively undermining Israel,” the topline reads.

A section of the memo labeled “Underminin’ Biden” accused the administration of “actively hindering Israel’s military strategy.”

The memo defines Israel’s mission to achieve “absolute victory” through first destroying Hamas and any other immediate existential threats; bringing the hostages home alive; and restoring regional stability and peace in the Middle East.

However, President Biden has hindered the nation’s goal and has empowered Iran, the memo alleges, driven by the rollback of the Trump-Pence “maximum pressure” strategy as seen by more than a dozen White House staffers anonymously calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

“The war should end when her military goals are achieved, and not a moment sooner,” Pence said in a statement included in the memo.

The memo comes after three American soldiers were killed and dozens of others were injured in a drone strike in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border. Most, if not all, of those injured and killed were Army soldiers at a base known as Tower 22, which has been in support of the counter-ISIS mission for years, the official said.

The president, as well as Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, blamed Iran-backed militias for Sunday’s attack. A coalition of Iran-backed militant groups calling themselves the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” claimed responsibility.

Later Sunday, Biden said the U.S. “had a tough day in the Middle East,” and vowed, “We shall respond.”

The service members’ deaths marked a major escalation of tensions in the region after months of strikes by militia groups on American forces in the region in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

The U.S. in recent months has struck targets in Iraq, Syria and Yemen to respond to attacks on American forces in the region and to deter Iran-backed Houthi rebels from continuing to threaten commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House for comment.

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AAF: Biden Doesn’t Seem to Want Israel to Win

The Biden Administration’s Houthi Half Measure

January 18th, 2024

After three months of disruption of international shipping through the Suez Canal by the Iranian-proxy Houthi militia group, and the recent targeting of American military vessels, the Biden administration has finally begun to take the problem seriously. After its joint strike against Houthi sites in Yemen alongside the United Kingdom, the United States plans to define the organization as a “specially designated global terrorist” (SDGT) group, according to a statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken released Wednesday. The order is set to take effect on February 16.

The Houthis had previously been recognized as both a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) and an SDGT group; former president Donald Trump’s administration designated them as such in January 2021, but soon after that year’s inauguration, the Biden administration removed the label, arguing that the “designations could have a devastating impact on Yemenis’ access to basic commodities like food and fuel.”

National Review’s Luther Ray Abel noted Wednesday morning that the SDGT designation is fundamentally weaker than the previous FTO version in that the former does not create immigration restrictions for members of the targeted group, nor does it impose sanctions on “those who provide ‘material support’ to the group.” In short, it’s a cop-out:

Biden’s SDGT ploy allows him plausible deniability concerning inaction while also ensuring that U.S. strength cannot be applied to Houthi forces in any real capacity besides telegraphed and ineffective air strikes against a rebel force that has made a living of dodging similar Saudi strikes for years.

He’s not alone in voicing concern that the Houthis wouldn’t be given the full designation. Advancing American Freedom, a Mike Pence-founded group that has previously called on the Biden administration to add the Houthis back to the list of foreign terrorist organizations, issued a statement Wednesday, with executive director Paul Teller saying “the Houthis are a foreign terrorist organization, but the Biden administration would rather classify them as an SDGT, to avoid being called out for their about-face.” Teller accused the White House of being “more afraid of a bad headline than global threats.”

Gabriel Noronha, a fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, posted on X after the initial round of reporting that the designation means three things: 1) “Houthis can still get U.S. visas,” 2) “Not a criminal penalty to support them,” and 3) “U.S. banks don’t have to seize their funds.”

He elaborated on those three aspects of the decision, telling National Review that there are significant differences between the two types of designations.

“If you are sanctioned on the FTO list, none of the members of the organization can receive a visa to come into the United States, even if you’re a cook or a conscript or a low-level guy,” Noronha said, adding that, if an organization is on the FTO list, its “assets can be seized and forfeited to the victims of Houthi terrorists. . . . If you are just an SDGT, your assets in the U.S. are frozen, but they can’t really be turned over to the victims.”

Another distinction Noronha emphasized has to do with criminal prosecution. While offering an SDGT financial support carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence; the penalties for assisting an FTO are much harsher.

“If you are an FTO, it doesn’t have to be willful,” Noronha said. “Anyone that supports them in any way, shape, or form materially can go to prison up to a life sentence. It basically makes them radioactive as a group.”

Noronha then addressed a phone call between U.S. officials and reporters during which one administration figure said, “If we saw a cessation of Houthi attacks on ships, we are willing to relook at this designation.” He told NR that some of that perspective has to do with the administration’s general approach to sanctions, which he described as a “view that sanctions are intended to improve behavior but aren’t intended to be permanent.” Noronha noted that such an approach can be successful, but only if the other side actually follows through.

“We removed Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terror,” he mentioned as an example, “as part of a process where they paid something like $340 million in damages and made peace with Israel. There is a path where that works and everyone is happy, but there’s a major difference between atoning for your behavior and making big political change and just saying, ‘Well, we’re not going to attack ships this month.’”

It appears the outcome here would likely be the latter. Biden’s half measure on the Houthis is simply another example of the White House’s failure to comprehend the necessity of a large-scale strategy of deterrence. And in effectively announcing its intention to keep its options open, the administration has signaled a dangerous level of unseriousness in dealing with a real geopolitical crisis.

“This is all part of the Biden administration’s broader Middle East strategy of ‘we don’t want conflict, we do not want escalation, we do not want things blowing up, and our solution is diplomacy. We believe that we are really good diplomats, and we can talk these things through,’” Noronha said. “And that is nice, wishful thinking. . . . Fundamentally, that’s just not how this region works, and [the Houthis] don’t care about those nice ideas.”

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