Obama Is Always Wrong On The Middle East: Who Is Protecting The Tyrant Of Damascus Bashar Al-Assad?
01 May 2015
By Tariq Alhomayed
In his interview with journalist Thomas Friedman this week, US President
Barack Obama said that the threat to regional states, including Saudi Arabia,
is not Iranian intervention, but rather ''internal threats.'' Can this be
The reality is that Obama has an incorrect view of the region, and this is
something that has become increasingly clear since he took office. He is
always wrong on our region, and has made the biggest mistakes here, and these
mistakes have had major consequences.
Obama rushed to withdraw from Iraq, and now here we see him returning once
again. He played down the Syrian revolution and Assad's crimes. He talked
about ''red lines'' but Assad has crossed each and every one of these, while
Obama has done nothing. He played down the threat of the Islamic State of
Iraq and Syria (ISIS) only to subsequently be forced to acknowledge the
reality of the situation, although he still had enough time to blame his
country's intelligence services for failing to realize this earlier.
It is also interesting to note a recent Washington Post report that revealed
the extent of ISIS's connection with the former ruling Ba'athist regime in
Iraq, and that many members of the group are ex-members of Saddam Hussein's
military. This is the same military that was controversially disbanded
following the Iraq invasion. Washington has made many mistakes in Iraq, and
Obama must bear some share of the responsibility for this.
Obama also gambled, for years, on political Islam being a successful model in
the region. This failed, of course, and the Islamists failure has had a
long-lasting effect on the entire region following the so-called Arab Spring.
Obama's mistakes go beyond this, and we now see him making yet another one
today. This misjudgment that will have serious, adverse consequences for the
So, Obama thinks that the threat to the region is not Iran, but rather an
absence of internal reform. This is simply wrong, and demonstrates worrying
In 2009, when Obama was already in office, the ''Green Movement'' broke out
in Iran. The Iranian authorities violently suppressed the protests, including
through the force of arms. Many protesters were killed, and many more
arrested. All the while, Obama looked on and did nothing. Indeed, some
leading members of this revolt remain behind bars until today. Since then,
Iran has not carried out any significant internal reform. During the same
period, Gulf states—and particularly Saudi Arabia—have moved forward with the
internal reform process.
More than this, we can clearly see Iran's threatening action in Iraq, Syria,
Lebanon and Yemen. This is not to mention the terrorist sleeper cells with
ties to Iran that have been uncovered in the Gulf.
So, after all this, how can Obama say that the threat does not come from
Iran, but rather from ''internal threats?''
We can ask many questions regarding this perplexing view:
Who is responsible for all the sectarian crises and conflicts in our region?
Isn't it Iran?
Who disrupted political reform in Iraq? Who disrupted the Lebanese
presidential election? Who is protecting the tyrant of Damascus Bashar Al-Assad?
The aim of this op-ed is not just to respond to Obama's comments and paint a
clearer picture regarding what is happening in the region. We must also take
a deep breath and acknowledge that some of our regional states, particularly
the moderate ones, have made mistakes.
Why haven't we seen them leading a diplomatic offensive in Washington in
order to explain and clarify our position? Why have we seen this
corresponding slow-down in the pace of reform and development in our
How can we explain Obama's fluctuating position looking for a ''magic''
solution to the situation in the region, first rushing to political Islam,
and then resorting to Iran? Where are we in all this?
Of course, I am not putting forward a conspiracy theory to explain this, for
the simplest explanation is that President Obama does not understand our
region, and it is enough to compare his vision with that of another US
official, such as Gen. David Petraeus in this regard.
But ultimately, we must look to ourselves. Where are moderate Arab states on
these issues? Where is our diplomatic response? Why have we failed so badly
in the game of influence and lobbying in Washington?
Al Rashed is the general manager of
Al -Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-
Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a
senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a
US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many
TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.