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Barack Obama Photo: Reuters
Barack Obama Photo: Reuters
 
 

Obama's failed Mideast record

Op-ed: US president's unrealistic demand for total settlement freeze hinders peace talks

Shoula Romano Horing
Published: 10.30.12, 11:37 / Israel Opinion

When looking at President Obama's actual record and not his rhetoric, one must conclude that his presidency was a failure in foreign affairs. The US, as well as the world and Israel, cannot afford another four years of such a leaderless and clueless presidency.

 

If we examine the Obama foreign policy and national security especially in the Middle East during the last four years his record gets a failing grade. It was surreal to watch the president for many months gloating about his foreign policy success by repeatedly mentioning that he killed Osama bin Laden and that al-Qaeda is on the run. But then, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, came the premeditated terrorist attack by al Qaeda on the US consulate in Libya in which four Americans including the US ambassador were killed and we discovered that the president’s rhetoric is untrue. In reality, during the Obama Administration, al-Qaeda has resurrected itself not only in Libya but in 30 other countries including Iraq, Syria, Mali, Yemen, Somalia and Jordan.

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Moreover, everybody remembers Obama's "historical" Cairo speech in which he tried to reach out to the Muslim and Arab world in an attempt to reverse the anti-US hatred allegedly caused by President Bush. He then went on an apology tour, visiting Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia while bowing to its king and skipping over Israel. As part of his plan he tried to distance himself from Israel by repeatedly creating public confrontations with its prime minister and condemning the natural growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Therefore, it was disconcerting in September to watch the anti- American hatred exhibited in protests and assaults on US embassies in over 20 Arab and Muslim states.

 

Like Carter during his time, Obama has lost an important long term US and Israeli ally. Just as Carter lost Iran to the ayatollahs, Obama has lost Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the ideological vanguard to al-Qaeda and other global Islamists. It took him only few days to betray President Mubarak, and call for his removal and free elections. By pressuring the Egyptian Army to permit a quick free election, the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood was facilitated by the president, who had to be aware that they were by far the most organized party in the country.

 

Abbas (L) and Netanyahu (Archive photo: AFP)
Abbas (L) and Netanyahu (Archive photo: AFP)
 

 

The Muslim Brotherhood is now the de facto object of Obama's support. The US made the decision not only to continue supporting Egypt financially but also to daily engage both the Muslim Brotherhood and the even more extreme Islamists, the Salafists. If the US is now talking with these groups who both believe in Sharia law and Islamic Caliphate, there is a great chance for the United States in a second Obama Administration to start talking to all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

 

President Obama's other achievement of ending the war in Iraq was due to the withdrawal timeline set by the Bush administrations, and after four years the war in Afghanistan is still going on. In Libya the current administration let the French take the lead in deciding to help overthrow Gaddafi, but failed to verify that the opposition groups that were being supported consisted of al-Qaeda and other jihadists.

 

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The slaughtering continues in Syria, and al-Qaeda has an opening there because the administration refuses to do more to help the non-jihadist rebel groups overthrow Bashar Assad's regime. While Iran uses endless negotiations with the Obama administration as a delay tactic, it has made significant inroads in its quest for nuclear weapons.

 

Finally, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is as stalled as ever and it can be mostly attributed to Obama's liberal world view that Israel is to blame for the lack of peace. US efforts at restarting negotiations with the Palestinians were set back by Obama's exaggerated and unrealistic demand for a total settlement freeze by Israel while giving the Palestinian Authority president a pass. As a result, Mahmoud Abbas, who readily and frequently met with the previous six other Israeli prime ministers for 16 years without a settlement freeze, felt pressured to play hard to get and rejected talks with Netanyahu, expecting Obama to deliver a broken Israel.

 

While Abbas met Netanyahu only once during Obama's term, in 2008 under Bush, the Palestinian negotiators met 288 times with their Israeli counterparts. Abbas under Obama has become more radical, inciting against Israel over Jerusalem, and working to maximize the scapegoating of Israel.

 

If Obama is re-elected, the US will be on the decline as the leader of the free world and Israel will be alone once again facing an extremist Islamist Middle East determined to destroy it.

  

Shoula Romano Horing was born and raised in Israel. She is an attorney in Kansas City. Her blog: www.shoularomanohoring.com

 

 

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