At every conceivable level, the Obama administration’s Middle East policies are spiraling into a disastrous free-fall.
Even Obama’s friend, PA president Mahmoud Abbas, has explicitly accused the US President of having totally misled him. In an interview with Newsweek, he said that “it was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze. I said okay, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down the ladder and he removed the ladder, and said to me jump. Three times he did it.”
In other words, it was Obama’s initiative which motivated Abbas to make the unprecedented demand that Israel freeze all construction in settlements, including the Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem. Abbas now finds it extremely convenient to use Obama’s impulsive action as a pretext to refuse to negotiate with Israel and stand by as global pressures are exerted on the Jewish state to make more unilateral concessions.
But it is Obama’s obtuse and utterly inconsistent approach to the upheavals in the Arab world that have plunged the US into a bottomless pit and possibly irrevocably terminated whatever support for the US remained among some of the more moderate Arab autocracies.
From the outset, Obama surprised the world by his naïve efforts to “engage” with the fervently hostile Iranian extremists seeking to become a nuclear power. When the Iranian people revolted peacefully against the ayatollahs during the “Green Revolution”, the American president was virtually struck dumb even as the regime brutally suppressed the opposition.
Yet when Egyptian president Mubarak, the most loyal US ally in the Arab world, faced a domestic revolt, Obama turned his back on him, demanding his resignation and did not even enable him to retire graciously.
The Saudis and other “moderate” pro-US Arab states were shocked at the manner in which the Americans had responded to their most faithful ally. They undoubtedly now no longer harbor illusions about the reliability of American support under the Obama administration. In fact. the most pessimistic predictions of the outcome of these “democratic” revolts are regrettably now being realized.
The Muslim Brotherhood – which a number of ignorant members of the Obama administration had described as being democratic, more open-minded and even “mostly secular”, has emerged as the most powerful force in Egypt. According to a recently released PEW Research Center poll, 75 percent of Egyptians regard the Brotherhood favorably. The US is despised – only 15% favoring a better relationship. More than 50% support the scrapping of the peace treaty with Israel. The Egyptian military council has already initiated moves to renew diplomatic relations with Iran and enabled Iranian ships to traverse the Suez Canal.
The candidate most likely to become president is Amr Moussa, who is favored by 89% of those polled. He is the secretary-general of the Arab League whose hatred for Israel was so intense that Mubarak was obliged to sack him as foreign minister. Only last week he declared that the Camp David accords were no longer relevant. The other candidate Mohammed ElBaradei declared that if Israel became engaged in a war with Hamas, Egypt would be obliged to respond militarily. Over 62% support the transformation of Egypt into a sharia state. Obama’s betrayal of Mubarak has thus directly led to the installation of a more extremist anti-Western regime.
But the regional situation is even worse. In Libya, Obama’s support of the overthrow of the deranged but recently pro-Western Colonel Gaddafi has resulted in a civil war. If Gaddafi wins, he will undoubtedly revert to his former evil terrorist activities which he had voluntarily relinquished. If the rebels are victorious, we are likely to find al-Qaida elements occupying a significant role in the country. The same applies to Yemen, which following the defeat of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has every likelihood of being transformed into a fullyfledged terrorist state dominated by al-Qaida.
But even more incomprehensible was Obama’s extraordinary tepid response to Syria’s dictator Bashar Assad, whose brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrators made Mubarak’s repression appear positively mild.
Besides, Assad is an avowed enemy of the US and closely allied with the Iranian regime and enabled al-Qaida forces to traverse Syria in order to fight against American troops in Iraq. He is a major sponsor of Hezbollah and has acted as their conduit for the transfer of arms. He hosts Hamas in Damascus, orchestrated the murder of the Lebanese prime minister, sought to obtain nuclear weapons and bitterly opposed Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
It is therefore inexplicable that even after hundreds of demonstrators were brutally killed and Assad has made it clear that he will not hesitate killing more citizens to quell any opposition, Obama has still neither called on him to step down nor initiated meaningful sanctions as he did with Libya.
We are left with a feeling of bewilderment. Is the administration so isolated from reality that it truly believes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she refers to the tyrannical Assad as a reformer? Or is there a hidden agenda of which we are unaware?
My gut feeling is that there is no conspiracy and it is all a question of absolute and utter incompetence and dysfunctionality. Obama is proving, on a daily basis, to be a complete novice in foreign relations and his liberal ideologue advisers are just as confused.
It is truly mind-boggling. We have a US president who condemns the only genuine democratic partner the US has in the Middle East for building apartments in the suburbs of their capital. He betrays the Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, who loyally supported America for four decades and paves the way for a new more hostile Egyptian regime. And yet he hesitates in responding to one of the most committed enemies of the US in the Arab world.
We should therefore be under no illusions that Obama will initiate any meaningful action to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
In summary: The Obama administration has undermined Israel, abandoned its Arab allies and appeased America’s worst enemies.
Jimmy Carter is regarded as one of the worst presidents the United States ever had. But today there is little doubt that Obama is proving to be far worse and could go down in history as the man responsible for abetting repeated national humiliations and undermining the standing of the United States as a superpower more than any other president in its history. To quote one of his now disillusioned supporters, former Carter National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama has been reduced to “sermonizing rather than strategizing”.
We can only hope and pray that the Republicans will get their act together and designate a credible candidate before the next presidential elections. It is chilling to contemplate the damage Obama could inflict on America’s international standing should he be reelected for a second term, free from any electoral constraints. The damage that ongoing American decline and weakness could inflict on Western civilization is positively alarming.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post