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The Obama Administration’s Middle East Legacy
Russia becomes the “Strong Horse” in the region.
By Joseph Puder
By the time this article will be read, a new resident will occupy the White House. Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. For former President Barack Obama, the main effort in the years to come will be to secure his legacy. In domestic affairs, Obamacare will remain the overriding achievement of the administration. Whether the Republicans will replace it, alter it, or keep most of it in tact, remains to be seen. What is clearly visible however, is the mess and mayhem that is today’s Middle East. It is in the Middle East that the legacy of the Obama administration can be judged to be an abysmal failure.
The Obama administration’s signature “achievement” in the Middle East has been the Iran nuclear deal. Its future, much like the future of Obamacare, is questionable. It too might be altered, or replaced. It certainly won’t have the concessionary elements the Obama administration threw into the deal. The Trump administration will not have any “love lost” for the Iranians, nor tolerance for Tehran’s cheating or its arrogant terroristic behavior.
From the very start of his administration, Obama appeased the Muslim world, and refused to call Islamic terror by its name. Making his first official foreign trip to the Muslim state of Turkey, Obama delivered a speech at the Turkish parliament on April 6, 2009, where he said, “I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country — I know, because I am one of them.”
Next, in Cairo, Egypt, on June 4, 2009, Obama apologized for the West’s misdeeds in the Muslim world in a speech at Al-Azhar and Cairo University. He said: “More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.” Obama continued “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
Obama then set moral equivalency between the sufferings of the Jews during the Holocaust to Palestinian suffering today. “Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust…On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”
President Obama visited Turkey and Egypt but snubbed Israel on this trip. Moreover, he did not speak of the Jews in the Arab world that were expelled from their ancient homes in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, etc. Nor did he admonish the Arab world, including Egypt for not absorbing as equal citizens the Palestinian refugees as Israel has done with Jewish refugees from Arab countries. He neglected to mention that Israeli checkpoints and security barriers exist, to prevent the killing of innocent Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists.
Less than two years following the Cairo speech, the Obama administration threw Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s moderately pro-western strongman, “under the bus.” The administration encouraged the protesters that were hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood, and when Mohammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood choice for president was elected in June, 2012, the Obama administration backed him. The Washington Times reported on June 3, 2015 that “President Obama and his administration continue to support the global Islamist group known as the Muslim Brotherhood. A White House strategy document regards the group as a moderate alternative to more violent Islamist groups like Al Qaeda and IS.”
On October 21, 2011, President Obama announced from the White House that, “All US troops will be pulled out of Iraq by the end of the year.” The complete pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq, without leaving a military contingency, created a vacuum that spawned the rise of the Islamic State (IS)
In 2014, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, was elected president of Egypt following nationwide protests against the authoritarian Muslim Brotherhood regime. Earlier, on July 3, 2013, President Obama issued the following statement…“We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority to the democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.”
President Obama threw the pro-western Mubarak “under the bus,” supported Morsi, a radical Islamist and authoritarian president, and condemned the anti-Islamist coup by General Al-Sisi. Egypt was clearly alienated by the Obama administration. Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf states, and Israel, likewise resented Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which insured Iran a nuclear bomb in a decade if not sooner.
Back in 2009, following the rigged Iranian elections, millions of Iranians begged Obama with placards that read “Obama are you with them (the Ayatollahs Regime) or with us.” Obama ignored their pleas for democracy and human rights. Yet, the Obama administration intervened in Libya to bring down a tyrant named Gaddafi who toed a pro-western line and gave up his nuclear ambitions to please the West. The result of that intervention has been the murder of a U.S. ambassador, and total chaos in the country now dominated by Islamists.
In the Syrian civil war, the Obama administration abandoned the secular, pro-democracy forces by allowing the Iranians and their Shiite proxies, Hezbollah from Lebanon, and Shiite militias from Iraq along with the Russians, to subdue the Syrian revolution, and undermine the Sunni-Muslim majority. Worse yet, the administration established a “red line,” a warning to the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, to refrain from using chemical weapons on his people. He did anyway. Obama did nothing. As a result, Russia became the “strong horse” in the Middle East.
President Obama will be remembered for pandering to America’s enemies, and abandoning its friends in the Middle East. This was vividly exemplified last December when the U.S. abstained from the infamous anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution 2334.