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Walid Phares' Profile.

Trump stoked controversy by appointing Phares to his campaign. Phares has been called a "key ideologue" of a far-right Lebanese Christian party called Lebanese Forces, which was active during the country's 1975-90 civil war. Earlier in 2016, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) denounced the Republican candidate for working with Dr Phares, describing the latter as a "war criminal" who often promoted Islamophobia.

The MB, born in Egypt in 1928, now is active in about 70 countries. But it is banned as a terrorist organisation by Saudi-led Arab/GCC states. A leading promoter of political Islam and close to Iran's theocracy, despite the MB being a Sunni movement, the MB came to power in Egypt in 2012 through the election of Muhammad Mursi.

The MB was ousted in a military-backed June 30, 2013 uprising. The then chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) and defence minister Lt-Gen Abdul-Fattah al-Sissi on July 3, 2013, ousted MB leadership member Mursi as president and later put him on trial, as he did with almost the entire MB command and first-echelon members. Sissi resigned as EAF commander and ran for the presidency which he on in late May 2014. The Egyptian government under Sissi's regime has since led a crack-down on the MB, with thousands of members and supporters detained or fleeing the country.

Dr Phares has had many titles over the course of his career, ranging from author and academic scholar to counter-terrorism expert and political pundit, having advised the US Congress and the American military, particularly the CentralCommand (CentCom) and the main US naval academy. He also served as GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's foreign policy adviser in the 2012 US presidential race.

Dr Phares, famous as a talk-show host and prominent analyst on foreign policy and geo-strategy, has gradually assumed an increasingly influential position as he built up a reputation for himself among Republicans. He has often appeared on Fox News and other conservative media outlets as a terrorism expert on such countries like Iran, Lebanon's Hizbullah, Syria's 50-year Alawite dictatorship of the Assad clan - now assumed by President Bashar al-Assad whose Syrian opponents call "the worst tyrant in history", Yemen's "thuggish" Zaidi Shi'ite rebels of the IRGC-guided Houthi clan, and Iraq's Safawi Shi'ites - also guided by the IRGC/QF.

US far-right news website Breitbart came to Phares's defence in April 2016, accusing his Arab-American critics of being a part of a co-ordinated campaign against security experts led by law-makers and NGO leaders "at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Iran regime fronts". Steve Bannon, the CEO of Trump's presidential campaign, is a former executive chairman of Breitbart News to whom Dr Phares also was an aide.>

Dr Phares's recent statements on Trump's Middle East policies towards Israel, Iran and the MB quickly made news headlines, stirring controversy among Islamist Arab and Iranian academics. He has often been defended by Bannon and other leading Republican ideologues.

Born in Lebanon in 1957 to a Maronite Christian family, Phares graduated from the University of Beirut with degrees in political science and sociology. He went on to practice law in Beirut after acquiring his master's degree in international law from the University of Lyon in France, and a PhD in international relations and strategic studies from the University of Miami in Florida.

After moving to the US in 1990, Dr Phares began teaching in the department of international relations at Florida International University in 1992, and was then hired as a full-time professor of Middle Eastern studies and international relations at Florida Atlantic University in 1995.

Dr Phares has written several books and research papers on topics ranging from pluralism to the Iran's "Islamic Revolution", radical Islam and the war on terrorism. Among his most controversial publications is "Israel's Alternative Policy in Lebanon". This was a policy paper he wrote for the Ariel Centre for Policy Research, an Israeli think-tank, in 1999, one year before Israeli occupation forces withdrew from southern Lebanon.

This policy paper, according to the pan-Arabist website Beirut Syndrome, appeals to Israel's military and political actions in Lebanon during the civil war, and concludes that poor decisions from the Christian Right in Lebanon failed to create a state in Lebanon allied to Israel.

Away from his political and academic careers, Dr Phares has been less public about another chapter of his life: his time as chief political adviser to Lebanese Forces (LF) leaders Bashir Gemayel (who in 1982 was elected as Lebanon's president; but he was assassinated by an activist of Syria's Assad dictatorship which at the time used to control Lebanon) and Samir Gea'gea' who now is the ally of Lebanon's recently-elected President Michel Aoun - a former commander-in-chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). During the 1980s, Dr Phares trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against the Syrian dictatorship and the latter's Lebanese allies. Regina Sneifer, a Lebanese woman who served with the LF as a teen-ager, says Dr Phares was a key ideologue for the LF.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Redrawing the Islamic Map
Date:Nov 14, 2016
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