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Rum_Pirate
04-21-2015, 05:34 AM
Is President Obama making it worse as outlined here?

What is your view of the situation ?
Opinion: The Middle East is in flames -- and Obama's making it worse

By Abdulaziz Sager
Updated 2:54 PM ET, Mon April 20, 2015

Story highlights



Obama recently explained U.S. foreign policy moves on Iran and Cuba
Sager: Misguided U.S. leadership and policies are reasons for the enduring tragedy in the Middle East




Abdulaziz Sager is Chairman and founder of the Gulf Research Center (http://www.grc.net/index.php?PK_ID=3608&frm_action=view_people&frm_module=usermanagement&sec=people&sec_type=d&override=Abdulaziz+Sager), an independent think tank based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The views expressed are the author's own.

(CNN)U.S. President Barack Obama's recent explanation of how his administration will engage with the Middle East is far from reassuring to the region.

In his interview with Tom Friedman (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/opinion/thomas-friedman-the-obama-doctrine-and-iran-interview.html?_r=0) from the New York Times on April 4, Obama explained U.S. foreign policy moves on Iran and Cuba, which Friedman described as the "Obama doctrine." He stated that "We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities." By capabilities, the President must mean the tools, whether diplomatic, economic or military, to protect and defend U.S. interests.
The doctrine is significant because it provides greater clarity about the U.S. policy under the rest of Obama's presidency. Instead of the "new beginning" that the President outlined in his much discussed Cairo speech in 2009, U.S. policy in the Middle East remains mired in a contradiction between principles and action on the ground.

For example, the President asserted in the interview that "the U.S.'s core interests in the region are not oil, are not territorial ... Our core interests are that everybody is living in peace, that it is orderly, that our allies are not being attacked, that children are not having barrel bombs dropped on them, that massive displacements aren't taking place."
Yet, at the very moment that the President was offering this assessment, U.S. allies, such as the Arab Gulf states, Jordan, Lebanon and the legitimate government in Yemen (http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/20/middleeast/yemen-american-citizens-escape/index.html), found themselves under serious threat and attack; the Syrian regime (http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/17/middleeast/syria-civil-war-by-the-numbers/index.html) was continuing to relentlessly bomb its own citizens; and the Middle East was faced with the biggest refugee crisis in its history.
Implementing the core U.S. interests outlined by Obama in the interview is clearly not working.
There exist grave doubts about whether the current U.S. administration is indeed ready to deploy the above-mentioned "capabilities." It seems that the U.S. will only use them when its national security is at stake.
And those core interests are limited to dealing with terrorism and nuclear proliferation only and not the broader aspects mentioned by the President.
The use of drone technology across the region, the military strikes being conducted against ISIS in Iraq and Syria (http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/19/world/iraq-isis-baiji-oil-refinery/index.html)and the framework agreement between Iran (http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/20/asia/australia-iran-intelligence-sharing/index.html) and six world powers on the Iranian nuclear programs are cases in point.
Establishing a region "living in peace" is clearly not an instance where those capabilities will be deployed and is not part of the so-called Obama doctrine.
In the same vein, the majority of the Arab world and the entire Gulf region look at the recently announced Iran nuclear deal with a sense of suspicion and trepidation.
Having directly experienced the problematic interventionist Iranian policies for decades, the Arab world is simply not ready to give Tehran the benefit of doubt on any regional issue.
But neither is it ready to trust U.S. assurances that outside a nuclear agreement, the U.S. will indeed put forward a concerted strategy to contain Iranian influence throughout the region or to defend the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states against any Iranian threat.
Instead, the fear is that as long as Iran abides by any agreement that might come into force later this year, the U.S. will negate, downplay, or simply ignore those Iranian actions that the Arab world considers as direct threats. Here, actions speak louder than words and unfortunately one sees only the latter coming from Washington.
At a time when the region is faced with unprecedented turmoil and transition, the President even shifted the blame and directed his criticism toward the Arab world. When he referred to "our Sunni Arab allies" the President gave an exaggerated picture by saying "populations that, in some cases, are alienated, youth that are underemployed, an ideology that is destructive and nihilistic, and in some cases, just a belief that there are no legitimate political outlets for grievances."
What Obama failed to do is to highlight that this statement is in fact also applicable to Iran. In his interview, he never questioned Iran's appalling record on human rights, treatment of the political opposition, and minorities' rights, among other disturbing issues.
Moreover the reference to Saudi Arabia being one of the "Sunni Arab allies" ignores the fact that there are non-Sunnis living in the Arab Gulf and adds to the existing destructive sectarian tensions as well as the sensitivity of the non-Sunni Arabs.
Equally, the assertion that "the biggest threats that they (the Arab states) face may not be coming from Iran invading. It's going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries ..." is another example of the detachment from reality. Based on a Gulf Research Center study, when there are 48 militia groups supported by Iran operating in Iraq and tearing apart the very social fabric of that country, it is simply naive to suggest there is no Iranian threat.
The bottom line here is that U.S. and Arab national security interests are no longer on the same page. Ever since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, those interests have increasingly diverged to the point that the Arab world is tired of false promises. The ongoing operation of ten mostly Arab coalition countries to protect the legitimate government of Yemen is simply the latest move that underlines the determination of Arab countries to take matters in their own hands.
The GCC states may accept the invitation by the U.S. President to come to Camp David, his Maryland country retreat, and have an honest discussion with him about the situation in the region. But they question the value of being invited for purposes of being reassured when they are already being informed beforehand of what is wrong with them.

The truth of the matter is that "the region is (not) working" and that misguided U.S. leadership and policies are among the reasons for the enduring tragedy in this region. Unfortunately, the "Obama doctrine" does little to change this and may in fact make matters worse.

skuthorp
04-21-2015, 05:55 AM
We busted it, we own it. But colonial policy in the ME and succeeding western governments and 'leaders', power games, oil, local tribal leaders and appointed 'kings', political policy changes, etc have brought the ME to where it is now. We and they are reaping the whirlwind we have created. I wonder if there's been any thoughts about the security of the Suez Canal? I'd have some myself..

Tom Hunter
04-21-2015, 06:39 AM
One of the very real failures of the Obama administration is the failure to look ahead. They are frequently a step or two behind events, especially when the events are caused by violent thuggish people of a type who would never get into Harvard.

It's very likely that Obama's policies do make things worse because they are usually reactive, not pro-active. Iran might be a huge exception to this, I hope it is.

purri
04-21-2015, 06:55 AM
Iran owns much of the region, get over it!

Norman Bernstein
04-21-2015, 07:38 AM
There's lots of interesting stuff in the opinion.... but I don't see any convincing case that 'Obama is making it worse'. Such a conclusion would have to intrinsically presume that a better course of action was somehow obvious... and the conclusion also looks to let the Arab states in the region 'off the hook' for their own complicity in the turmoil experienced there.

Obama didn't create the warring Sunni and Shia factions, nor did it create the Kurds as victims between Turkey and Syria... it didn't put Palestinians under an apartheid rule in the West Bank, and it didn't promote radical Islam. The author of the piece, it seems to me, is looking for a scapegoat... and excuse to direct blame elsewhere, as if somehow, the United States, whether it was responsible for the problems in the middle east or not, was somehow responsible for solving those problems.

I don't think Obama 'makes the situation worse'. I DO think that political pressures domestically have compelled not only Obama, but also the presidents before him, to take inadvisable actions in the middle east.... mostly from the neoconservative branch of political idiocy which has succeeded so far in getting a large number of Americans killed in the middle east, and huge fortunes wasted... but has done essentially nothing to make the situation better.

More than ever, I think that the appropriate role for the US is to provide sanctuary for civilian victims, engage in air strikes only to prevent the slaughter of innocents, provide humanitarian relief, and to offer refugees a path to a safe area. Let the Islamic fundamentalists fight it out, because we've proven, over and over, that we CANNOT stop them.

LeeG
04-21-2015, 07:46 AM
Yep, it's an opinion piece.

"The bottom line is that the U.S. and Arab national security interests are no longer on the same page."

They never were. Remember 1973 and the first oil crisis? The author seems to uphold the delusion our role is to protect these monarchies, theocracies and dictatorships from themselves. That isn't our job. Yes Saudi Arabia and Israel are upset we're husbanding our resources after the glorious success of pre-emptive war. Any sane person would.

Funny how the author criticizes Obama for not mentioning Irans human rights record. RP, are you aware of Saudi Arabia's treatment of it Shia minority and Saudi support of Bahraini suppression againt their Shia citizens?

yep, things are shifting, China is becoming a bigger player in the region and our creation of chaos in Iraq opened up opportunities for Iran and extremist nut jobs like Al Qaeda.

Darn that Obama!

Btw being and independent think tank not affiliated with a gov't must be a tricky task.

http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/general/gulf-research-center-moves-out-of-dubai-1.816420

"The GRC was rated as number two think tank in the Middle East in the 2010 Global 'Go-To Think Tanks' survey of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program of the University of Pennsylvania.

Its' positions have closely reflected those of Gulf governments, particularly Saudi Arabia, but Saqer said it is an entirely independent and audited entity, funded solely by him."

skuthorp
04-21-2015, 07:55 AM
"I DO think that political pressures domestically have compelled not only Obama, but also the presidents before him, to take inadvisable actions in the middle east.... mostly from the neoconservative branch of political idiocy which has succeeded so far in getting a large number of Americans killed in the middle east, and huge fortunes wasted…"
Precisely Norman, and 'inadvisable' is the softest word for the meddling that I can think of too. US foreign policy, if there is such a thing, shifts with your internal political wind, and sometimes without. No 'policy' as such lasts much more than the 8 years of a President's double term, and the rest of us suffer the consequences.

Rum_Pirate
04-21-2015, 08:00 AM
Yep, it's an opinion piece.

"The bottom line is that the U.S. and Arab national security interests are no longer on the same page."

They never were. Remember 1973 and the first oil crisis? The author seems to uphold the delusion our role is to protect these monarchies, theocracies and dictatorships from themselves. That isn't our job. Yes Saudi Arabia and Israel are upset we're husbanding our resources after the glorious success of pre-emptive war. Any sane person would.

Funny how the author criticizes Obama for not mentioning Irans human rights record. RP, are you aware of Saudi Arabia's treatment of it Shia minority and Saudi support of Bahraini suppression againt their Shia citizens?

yep, things are shifting, China is becoming a bigger player in the region and our creation of chaos in Iraq opened up opportunities for Iran and extremist nut jobs like Al Qaeda.

Darn that Obama!

Not in great detail.
I realise that Saudi Arabia is not some sort of 'White Knight' to contribute peace in the Middle East, plus there are apparently rich individuals that also provide terrorist groups with funding.

EG
Saudi Arabia is said to be funding and supporting al Qaeda in Yemen, mainly in an attempt to remove the Shi’ite Houthis who have just gained power.


Saudi Arabia is said to be the world's largest source of funds and promoter of Salafist jihadism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafist_jihadism),[92] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State-sponsored_terrorism#cite_note-92) which forms the ideological basis of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaeda), Taliban (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban), ISIS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_State_in_Iraq_and_the_Levant) and others. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide, according to Hillary Clinton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Clinton).[93] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State-sponsored_terrorism#cite_note-Guardian-WikiLeaks-93)
According to a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state, "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaeda), the Taliban (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban), LeT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lashkar-e-Taiba) and other terrorist groups."[94] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State-sponsored_terrorism#cite_note-94)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State-sponsored_terrorism

LeeG
04-21-2015, 08:06 AM
Darn that Obama! If only he could make the ultra rich monarchies feel more secure.

photo.pds.org:5012/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqrglobal2011110100

Kevin T
04-21-2015, 08:15 AM
I'd say that if Mr Sagar sees Tehran as the larger unrecognized (by the U.S.)threat, then I'd suggest he "saddle up" and start getting his neighbors involved in fixing the problem. Let the Saudis and their limitless capital fund an army of subcontractors to go off and "fix" the problem.

LeeG
04-21-2015, 08:18 AM
Not in great detail.
I realise that Saudi Arabia is not some sort of 'White Knight' to contribute peace in the Middle East, plus there are apparently rich individuals that also provide terrorist groups with funding.

EG

These countries have far greater internal problems than that Darn Obama.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/05/08/113839/while-bahrain-demolishes-mosques.html
In Shiite villages across this island kingdom of 1.2 million, the Sunni Muslim government has bulldozed dozens of mosques as part of a crackdown on Shiite dissidents, an assault on human rights that is breathtaking in its expansiveness.

Authorities have held secret trials where protesters have been sentenced to death, arrested prominent mainstream opposition politicians, jailed nurses and doctors who treated injured protesters, seized the health care system that had been run primarily by Shiites, fired 1,000 Shiite professionals and canceled their pensions, detained students and teachers who took part in the protests, beat and arrested journalists, and forced the closure of the only opposition newspaper.

Nothing, however, has struck harder at the fabric of this nation, where Shiites outnumber Sunnis nearly 4 to 1, than the destruction of Shiite worship centers.

The Obama administration has said nothing in public about the destruction.

Bahrain — and its patron, Saudi Arabia — are longtime U.S. allies, and Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/05/08/113839/while-bahrain-demolishes-mosques.html#storylink=cpy

LeeG
04-21-2015, 08:21 AM
I'd say that if Mr Sagar sees Tehran as the larger unrecognized (by the U.S.)threat, then I'd suggest he "saddle up" and start getting his neighbors involved in fixing the problem. Let the Saudis and their limitless capital fund an army of subcontractors to go off and "fix" the problem.

They're doing their best hiring muscle, Saudi Arabia is not pleased that Pakistan is not volunteering for their mission in Yemen.

Gerarddm
04-21-2015, 09:47 AM
I find Sager unconvincing. The rot problems in the Middle East involve tribalism and the Sunni/Shia split, neither of which Obama is responsible for, or can control.

Norm sums it all up neatly.

LeeG
04-21-2015, 10:15 AM
Money, money, moneyyyy!



http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/world/middleeast/sale-of-us-arms-fuels-the-wars-of-arab-states.html?_r=0

Saudi Arabia spent more than $80 billion on weaponry last year — the most ever, and more than either France or Britain — and has become the world’s fourth-largest defense market, according to figures released last week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks global military spending. The Emirates spent nearly $23 billion last year, more than three times what they spent in 2006.

Qatar, another gulf country with bulging coffers and a desire to assert its influence around the Middle East, is on a shopping spree. Last year, Qatar signed an $11 billion deal with the Pentagon to purchase Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems. Now the tiny nation is hoping to make a large purchase of Boeing F-15 fighters to replace its aging fleet of French Mirage jets. Qatari officials are expected to present the Obama administration with a wish list of advanced weapons before they come to Washington next month for meetings with other gulf nations.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/peace-doesn-t-pay-bills-profiteering-war-torn-middle-east-809540853
The US accounts for almost half of all arms sales to the Middle East, followed by Russia and the UK. Weapons sales to member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rose by 71 percent over the past five years, accounting for 54 percent of imports to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have become the world's second and fourth largest arms importers respectively.

The Arab states of Algeria and neighboring Morocco are Africa's largest and second largest weapons importers respectively. Morocco's purchases increased 11-fold over the same period.

"The GCC states, along with Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Turkey... are scheduled to receive further large orders of major arms in the coming years," said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world's best-known collector of defence spending and weapons trade statistics.

The very countries that bemoan regional conflict - the US, Russia, China and European states - fuel and sustain it by enthusiastically selling many billions of dollars of weaponry to warring parties. Bleating on about loyalty to allies and the need for diplomacy is a facade - war means business, and business is booming.

Arms suppliers derive maximum benefit from just the right amount of destabilisation: enough to make clients bulk-buy, but not enough to existentially threaten them or disrupt energy supplies. That is why, for example, the US profited so immensely from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s - it armed both sides, resulting in a war of attrition that lasted almost a decade.

George.
04-21-2015, 10:29 AM
CNN...

You mean the ISIS Channel? :D ;) :rolleyes:

John of Phoenix
04-21-2015, 10:44 AM
That guy wants to lay 1400 years of Middle East mayhem on Obama? Seriously?

Reynard38
04-21-2015, 10:57 AM
To borrow a phrase, "We don't need no water, let the mother****** burn"