So, let’s see. He “reset” with Russia’s Putin – ask the Crimeans what they think of that move -, he sent loving happy new years notes to Iran, and that produced a warm and loving feelings towards America. He drop-kicked Egypt’s Mubarak from the buddy league but snuggled up with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi. That did not do much for Morsi, and he spit in the eye of Israel’s Netanyahu whom everyone agrees actually benefitted from Obama’s animosity.
So to whom is U.S. President Barack Obama now handing out party favors? Why, it’s none other than Raul Castro, el jefe of Cuba.
That’s right. The happy dictator to our immediate south either was granted this gift or was simply rewarded, unbidden, with the imminent delisting of Cuba from the U.S.’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
First, the punishments which will be lifted if Cuba is removed from the terrorism list include: a ban on arms-related exports and sales; 30-day Congressional notifications for exports of goods or services deemed “dual use,” meaning they could have peaceful uses but they also could have be used to support terrorism; and prohibitions on economic assistance.
Unless Congress acts to prohibit the delisting, 45 days after the President issues the report making that recommendation, Cuba goes off the list.
How did this happen?
We learn from a press release issued by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, April 13, that Obama directed the State Department to launch a review and then provide him with a report to determine whether Cuba should continue to be designated as an official terrorism sponsor this past December. The president did that as a “critical component of establishing a new direction for U.S.-Cuba relations.”
Well, perhaps not surprisingly, the State Department recommended “based on the facts and the statutory standard” that Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism be rescinded.
To be sure, it might have been possible for the State Department to determine Cuba was ineligible for removal from the designated list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
Why, according to the State Department’s statement, if Cuba had “provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six months,” or if it had refused to provide “assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future,” those naughty boys would remain on the terrorism list. But the answers to the questions being asked were such that the president was able to give one of his new best friends, Raul Castro, the good news.
In issuing its statement recommending the removal of Cuba from the state terrorism listing, the State Department carefully pointed out that the narrow requirements it focused on constitute the qualifications set by Congress for what countries can be removed from the terrorism sponsors list. That statement also pointed out that the criterion for review was a narrow and Congressionally-determined one.
The basis for removal from the list does not mean that American authorities have determined Cuba, a Communist nation with one political party, is no longer engaged in repression or human trafficking or any other significant departures from modern democratic societies, but those issues are not part of the calculation for terrorism sponsoring de-listing.
“While the United States has had, and continues to have, significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these concerns and disagreements fall outside of the criteria for designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” is how the State Department couched it.
“Circumstances have changed since 1982, when Cuba was originally designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism because of its efforts to promote armed revolution by forces in Latin America. Our Hemisphere, and the world, look very different today than they did 33 years ago. Our determination, pursuant to the facts, including corroborative assurances received from the Government of Cuba and the statutory standard, is that the time has come to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” the statement continued.