New Eastern Outlook
by Viktor Titov
American voters have punished Obama by handing over Congress to the Republicans, even though it seems that he failed to understand why this has happened. The neocons now have the upper hand in the Senate as well, among which one may find such war hawks like Lindsey Graham and Joni Kay Ernst. This must have something to do with Obama’s ill-planned foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.
The good old American traditions of taking advantage of attempts to dominate other countries have manifested itself clearly over the years during Obama’s presidency in this region. Republicans didn’t hesitate to take advantage of his failures by launching a massive campaign to discredit the US President by accusing him of an inability to solve the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, nonexistent progress in the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program without any noticeable concessions from Tehran, and finally of being a “socialist Muslim.” At the same time they’ve failed to notice the only foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama that is worth mentioning – the restoration of American hegemony and the renewed US dictatorship in Europe, that had deteriorated during the Bush era.
In his foreign policy Obama followed the interests of the ruling class and business elites, and it seems that in this domain he surpassed his predecessor. His proposals for the dismantling of the UN, for the increasing aggressiveness of NATO and its expansion across the entire Islamic world, his unwillingness to carry on the cooperative effort with Russia against Islamic radicals. It’s no coincidence that a wave of color revolutions swept across the Middle East during his term. Obama will keep on promoting the idea of “American exceptionalism” and ignoring international law. For this reason Republicans will be eager to support any of Obama’s new military endeavors only to throw him under the bus later. They know that once they get him impeached, they will be able to ensure that his chair is occupied by a Republican.
Therefore, at this point Obama can count on the support of the Republican majority in his intentions of initiating a ground operation in Iraq (some fifteen hundred US soldiers have already been sent there). Yet the Republican hawks won’t be eager to commit political suicide by doing so, in the past they have opposed the proposal on the supply of modern weapons to Syrian “rebels” and the Israeli plan to carry out air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Most of them are perfectly aware of the fact that they are two years away from the presidential election, so it’s a bad time for jumping the gun. In contrast, Obama thinks every international matter can be solved by primitive brute force.
There’s a handful of examples: the bombing of Syria without a UN resolution; the reverse of the effects of the Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916, the unexpected statement made by the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, that Assad “possesses undeclared chemical weapons” and the White House statement that appeared on November 12 implying that without the removal of Assad there can be no victory against the Islamic State (ISIL). These facts imply that preparations for an imminent full-scale invasion of Syria by the US allies in the region (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan) with the participation of the US Air Force and NATO partners have already begun.
But Republicans are not alone in their dislike of Barack Obama, the Israeli Prime Minister, along with the President of Turkey and the heads of Arab monarchies seem to have all enjoyed Obama’s defeat. The Israelis can not forgive the sitting US President that in his speeches he made no mention of Washington’s obligations to provide the state of Israel with military assistance. Now, after the recent military campaign that took the lives of well over two thousand people in Gaza, Obama’s peace plan is buried. Now Israel is prepared to do whatever it takes to discourage nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States. The leaked letter that Obama sent to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei where the US President is calling for bilateral cooperation based on common interests in the region, struck a severe blow to the plans of Barack Obama. In an attempt to set the record straight Obama threatened Tehran that he will not extend the period of the nuclear negotiations, that must end on November 24.
Talks between Tehran and Washington have not yet yielded any results, since there’s a number of radical adversaries on both sides. The rapidly changing background in the US and the mounting tension in the Middle East are not contributing to the successful outcome of the negotiations. Now both sides, despite the fact that they need to come to an agreement, accuse each other of supporting terrorism and derailing the dialogue. Obama’s top priority now is to make a deal with Iran before Republicans will call for strengthening of sanctions against Iran in January, which will force Obama to abandon the very idea of negotiations, since Iran will be labeled “an evil threat to the whole planet.” Iran, for its part, is seeking a way to lift sanctions that had been imposed by the UN and are weakening the economic development of the state. Should they reach an agreement, even a temporary one, they can discuss its details later on.
But it is also likely that Obama will abandon its attempts, assuming that the agreement will satisfy only a few political analysts,while being a major irritation for both the House of Representatives and the Congress, along with Israel, Saudi Arabia and their lobbies. He takes into consideration the fact that after decades of propaganda US citizens are generally hostile towards Iran, and that Republicans have the upper hand now.
It’s no coincidence that Obama is often referred to in the US as “the lamest duck of them all.” He has failed miserably in his foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. Therefore, he will be trying to improve his standing in the US, while starting a new military endeavor against Syria. And it’s pretty clear that he will try to start a new color revolution in Iran should the ongoing negotiations fail. So it’s clear that the Middle East will continue to suffer from the stupidity of the White House.
Viktor Titov, Ph.D in Historical Sciences and political commentator on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook