Bannon accused Iran of conducting a “pincer move through the Arab world,” language in line with those who are most critical of Iran.
Stephen K. Bannon joined other Republican grandees such as Sen. Tom Cotton at a packed event in Washington on Monday.
The optics were almost too perfect. Minutes before Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, was due to speak in the highlight time slot at the Hudson Institute’s security summit on Monday, all went dark. Bannon, of course, knows who he is—someone who has stated that “darkness is good. . . . Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.” The outage, never explained by the conference’s organizers, left the preceding panel, including Rep. Brian Fitzgerald, awkwardly carrying on for several minutes with no light. The scene was downright goofy: Sebastian Gorka, Bannon’s former deputy in the White House and notorious cable-news personality, was spotted in the pitch crowd giving out autographs. Eventually a spotlight was installed. “Depending on your political perspective, you can interpret the absence of light in two ways,” joked moderator Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador.
The purpose of the day’s event—held in a packed ballroom in Penn Quarter—was “Countering Violent Extremism: Qatar, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood.” Bannon didn’t hold back. “I think the single most important thing that’s happening in the world is the situation in Qatar,” Bannon told attendees, referencing the current standoff between Qatar and its ostensible allies, fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others. He opened by quoting President Trump’s inaugural address, and bragged that president’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May gave the Saudis the gumption to lead a blockade against Doha. “I don’t think it was just by happenstance that two weeks after the summit that we saw the blockade by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Egypt and the king of Saudi Arabia on Qatar,” said Bannon.