Walid Phares is an odd member of Romney’s foreign policy team. The Lebanese-born Christian teaches at the National Defense University. During the 1970s and ’80s, Phares was the leader of a Christian militia in Lebanon. He founded a small Christian political party (according to the Institute for Policy Studies’ Right Web blog) and subsequently threw in with the Lebanese Front, which opposed Hafez al-Assad’s regime in Syria and Muslims in Lebanon.
Phares’s backstory illustrates the strange network of alliances that is endemic to the politics of the Middle East. His anti-Assad history might be considered an asset, yet the Lebanese Front he joined was funded by Saddam Hussein.
Another complication for Romney is Phares’s past ties with the Phalange movement, as reported by Inter Press Service editor Jim Lobe. The Phalange was a right-wing Christian militia known for its violent repression of Palestinians and for committing several massacres during the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990).
In 2001, the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations wrote to New York Congressman Peter King, asking him to rescind his invitation to Phares to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee.
CAIR’s Nihad Awad cited documentary proof that the leadership of “Phares’s World Lebanese Organization” included Col. Sharbel Baraket and Etienne Sakr.
Baraket had commanded a militia known for torture in a prison it operated and for a 1984 massacre it perpetrated. Sakr had led the Guardians of Cedars, which operated under the motto, “Kill a Palestinian and you shall enter Heaven.”
Phares is also a Fox News commentator.