Alberto Fernandez (pictured above (inset ) in a Al Watan Al- Arabi interview which was mentioned by Dr. Daniel Pipes in his weblog: "Does Daniel Pipes represent the US government?" (text marked in pencil)
The Arabic-language magazine Al-Watan Al-Arabi, in its issue dated today carries a long interview with Alberto Fernandez, director of the office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State. In a discussion about democratization and the Greater Middle East project, the questioner raised my views: "Daniel Pipes has doubts about that. He says the problem is, if elections take place in the Middle East, Islamists will win them."
Fernandez replied that "Daniel Pipes does not represent the American government and to look to Pipes to explain the clear American position is something I regret."
Comment: And I regret that Fernandez could not muster up a better reply than this. (August 2, 2006)
Alberto Fernandez, Another State Department Disaster In The Karen Hughes Mold
By Beila Rabinowitz, Director MilitantIslammonitor.org & William A. Mayer E&P PipeLineNews.org
October 23, 2006 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The State Department's handling of Middle Eastern affairs and lack of judgment when dealing with radical Islam was only too recently demonstrated when Alberto Fernandez [an Arabic speaker whose title is Director of Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department] made the very undiplomatic assertion to the Islamist Al-Jazeera network that "there was much arrogance and stupidity by the United States in Iraq," adding that the US would have to talk with everyone involved except for Al Qaeda, claiming ;
"at the end of the day, sooner or later, we and all those who are concerned with Iraq must sit together in that room or at that table and must discuss and establish some dialogue. This is the only way forward, and, thanks be to God, the Iraqi government is convinced of that." http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/22/africa/ME_GEN_Iraq_Insurgent_Negotiations_Text.php
That a U.S. state department official would use the Muslim religious phrase "praise be to God" [Alhamdulilah] is indicative of the degree to which Gonzalez has gone above and beyond the strict needs of diplomacy, treading very near a self-imposed attitude of dhimmitude especially considering he was speaking to the official mouthpiece of those who seek our defeat in Iraq.
Not surprisingly, Fernandez is a favorite with Al Jazeera, whose deputy editor Aderrahim Foukara, gushed, "As far as I am aware, he is the only Arabic speaker from the US government who appears on Al-Jazeera "Sometimes we'll even have him on three or four days in a row." http://www.layalina.tv/press/PR_II.18.asp#article5
Another troubling aspect of Fernandez' official conduct is his membership in Middle East Studies Association [MESA] whose anti-Americanism ironically extended to advising their members not to cooperate with the State Department and U.S. government, though it funds the organization.
In 2003 Dr. Daniel Pipes declared that MESA is:
"Adversarial: Many American scholars are hostile to U.S. national interests. Thus, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) board has recommended that its members "not seek or accept" U.S. government funded scholarships. That three specialists were recently indicted on terrorism charges caused no alarm among their colleagues. http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1251
In 2006 Fernandez was a speaker at the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy Conference:
"The CSID is "a U.S.-based group that was created by board members and former staff of the American Muslim Council [AMC] a radical pro-Saudi group that largely ceased operations after its former chairman, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, was jailed last October on terrorist-related charges." Link - http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1650
In his apparent zeal to develop empathy and kinship among the Islamists he must sometimes deal with, Gonzalez has repeatedly made the mistake of not considering how his associations might be interpreted by them or by others who may well feel that his mere presence might well constitute an official seal of approval.
Such is the case with his guest spot on the radical "Islamonline" website, which is run by Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, a founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the antecedent of al-Qaeda.
Qaradawi is also the head of the European Council of Fatwa and Research which was responsible under his leadership for issuing a religious finding that both Muslim women as well as men were bound to participate in suicide bombing.
Islamonline is funded by the UAE royal family and the website links to another site which promotes the viciously anti-Semitic myth, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Fernandez's Islamonline discussion was entitled "Ask the State Department - the US and Mideast Reform," however when queried about Qaradawi [who is banned from entering the United States] he replied" he replied:
"Dr. Qaradawi is a respected scholar and religious leader worthy of the deepest respect. But it is not the role of the United States to single him or anyone else out as a model; that is for the Muslim Umma to decide. I do think that it is important to listen to intelligent and thoughtful voices from the region like Sheikh Qaradawi, but again, this is for Muslims to decide. But he is an important figure that deserves our attention." http://www.islamonline.net/livedialogue/english/Browse.asp?hGuestID=30Ig37
Given Alberto Fernandez' lack of judgment on such matters it's no surprise that the headlines are screaming, "Diplomat acknowledges US arrogance in Iraq."
In large part Fernandez' conduct invites such debacles, calling attention to the obvious conflict of interest between his role as a US diplomat - one of the State Department's Middle East "go to guys" - his less than diplomatic precision and most importantly, his kid glove treatment of those who want to destroy the country who employs him.
MIM: Here is a transcript of the Al-Jazeera interview with Fernandez which was translated by the AP in Baghdad.http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/22/africa/ME_GEN_Iraq_Insurgent_Negotiations_Text.php
Al-Jazeera: That endeavor by the American administration that you describe as good — an attempt to save Iraq and end the bloodshed — can it move forward to direct dialogue, secret or public, between the American administration or American forces on the ground in Iraq and armed groups per se. There is talk now about secret negotiations, it is even in the media, between the United States of America and what is known as the Islamic Army (taking place) in Amman, Jordan?
Fernandez: Without a doubt. I believe there is wide flexibility in this subject and at the same time, of course, there is coordination between us and the Iraqi government and Iraqi officials. We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the solution to the hell and the killings in Iraq is linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation. At the end of the day, sooner or later, we and all those who are concerned with Iraq must sit together in that room or at that table and must discuss and establish some dialogue. This is the only way forward, and, thanks be to God, the Iraqi government is convinced of that.
Al-Jazeera: There is, Mr. Fernandez, now talk as was mentioned in more than one media outlet, especially in the Los Angeles Times, that a report is being prepared by the former Secretary of State James Baker. You know very well, and let us inform our viewers that the American Congress set up the committee of (inaudible) persons to discuss or present a full report and make recommendations on Iraq. We understood from what has been published that Mr. James Baker will recommend to the American administration major changes in American policies in Iraq. What do u have (interrupted)... .
Fernandez: We expect that report after the congressional elections in the United States of America, maybe in a month or two at the latest. Without a doubt that is a special committee from former experts in American administrations, not just Republican administrations, who thoroughly studied the subject with fresh eyes. Without a doubt we will see interesting recommendations in that report which may be acceptable to the administration or may possibly be rejected by the administration. But what is important, we believe, is the exercise of flexibility and self- criticism and take responsibility for correcting mistakes and policies if those policies have failed or are unable to present the Iraqi people with what they want most: Security first, second and third, and then (solutions to) a long list of problems, including economic and political one.
Al-Jazeera: I, of course, appreciate your usual candor Mr. Fernandez, especially what you just said. Does that mean, Mr. Ferndandez, in all honesty, that those who are labeled as radicals or hard-liners inside the American administration are responsible for the mistakes in Iraq? There is, in all honesty, I won't say contradictions, but a difference of policies between the State Department and the Defense Department in this respect (interrupted)... .
Fernandez: This, of course, is an important and interesting question. It is difficult for any politician in whatever administration, not just this administration, to admit mistakes, because people in the East as well as the West don't like to admit they have made mistakes or are wrong. This is the mentality of the people, the mentality of power, authority, autocratic thinking. This is reality. I think we are somewhat fortunate in America because we are a democracy and, within weeks, in about two or three weeks, we will witness the start of internal settling of scores in the United States over this question. The American people will decide the policies of the administration and the policies of representatives in the American Congress on the issue of Iraq.
Traditionally, congressional elections are linked to internal issues. In these elections, the issue of Iraq is important, maybe the most important in some congressional races in the United States. Of course, some historians, history will judge American history in Iraq. We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq."
The next question is about the Baker report, and Fernandez repeats his remarks as noted above on that topic. The interview then concludes with the following question and answer:
Al-Jazeera: My last question. The Iraqi situation, as it is now, I mean we spoke in detail about it, but what is the real impact of the Iraqi situation on conditions in the entire region and especially on the United States, because it (the United States) is not only concerned with the situation in Iraq but with the regional situation, it affects on it, whether negatively or positively?
Fernandez: This is important. We focused today, and the media focuses on blame. There is no doubt that there is plenty of room for blame. Blame of the United States or others, but we haven't focused enough on the future and the possibility of failure in Iraq. If we are witnessing failure in Iraq, it's not the failure of the United States alone. Failure would be a disaster for the region. We, all of us in the region, countries in the region, have a role in what is happening in Iraq. Failure in Iraq will be a failure for the United States but a disaster for the region. We must all focus on saving Iraq for the sake of the Iraqi people and for our sakes, us in the West, and also you in the Arab world. I know that sometimes there is a kind of gloating in the Arab world that America has problems in Iraq. I fully understand that. But, in the end, we must think of the Iraqi people, the Arabs, the Muslims and the citizens of Iraq more than gloating about the United States.
MIM: Fernandez's IslamOnline dialogue biography says he is an active member of MESA and has delivered papers there in 1999 and 2001.
IslamOnline.net hosted a live dialogue session with US State Department official Alberto Fernandez on October 11 at 14:00 GMT.
Below please read Mr. Alberto Fernandez's biography in full.
Alberto M. Fernandez became Director for Public Diplomacy for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in July 2005. He was previously Director of the Office of Iraq Affairs since July 2004. He was a member of the State Department's 46th Senior Seminar at the Foreign Service Institute from 2003 to 2004. He has been to Iraq numerous times, most recently in June – July 2005.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Fernandez joined the United States Information Agency in 1983. He was a Junior Officer in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. From 1986 to 1988, he served as Press Attaché at the US Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua. In 1988, he transferred to the US Embassy in Kuwait to serve as Public Affairs Officer. He departed Kuwait on the eve of the Iraqi Invasion—August 1, 1990. He was then assigned to Washington DC, where he served as Country Affairs Officer for Egypt, Yemen, and Sudan in the USIA/NEA Area Office. After Advanced Arabic Training, he served as Public Affairs Counselor in Damascus, Syria (1993-96), Guatemala City, Guatemala (1996-99), Amman, Jordan (1999-2002), and Kabul, Afghanistan (2002-2003).
Mr. Fernandez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958 and arrived in the United States as a refugee in 1959. He served in the US Army and Reserves from 1976 to 1981. He studied Arabic at the Defense Language Institute-Foreign Language Center from 1976 to 1977. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1981 with a BA in Middle East Studies. In 1983, he obtained an MA in Middle East Studies from the University of Arizona.
Mr. Fernandez has received several departmental awards including a Superior Honor Award in 2003 for his work in Afghanistan, Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay for 2003, 2 Sustained Superior Performance Awards, several Group Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards and USIA's Linguist of the Year Award for 1996. He is fluent in both Arabic (4/3+) and Spanish (5/5) and is an active member of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), presenting papers at annual conferences (1997, 2001). He has published in the Journal of the Assyrian Academic Society and the Newsletter of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard.
He is married and has two sons
MIM: Conference participant bio from the website of the deceptively named Council for the Study of Islam and Democracy a Saudi funded Wahhabist propagation institute aligned with the International Institute of Islamic Thought aimed at promoting Islamism and implementing shari'a by exploiting American democracy. (Another State Department official, Randall Tobias, the newly sworn in director of U.S. foreign assistance,was a keynote speaker at at theMay 5th to 6th CSID event).
7th Annual Conference Page - Bios
MIM: Fernandez criticised Israel for blaming the Lebanese government for the war and rather undiplomatically stated"If it gets me into trouble, it gets me into trouble. I don't care".