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Did Ahmadinejad and al-Assad celebrate Obama's victory? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is being claimed that the people of Tehran, Damascus and Beirut’s southern suburbs – where Hezbollah is centered – celebrated Obama’s re-election for a second presidential term, or at least celebrated the defeat of his Republican rival. So, is Obama’s victory a setback for those of us who stood up for the Syrian people and who rejected the policies of the Iranian ghoul?

Personally, I don’t think that this is the case whatsoever. I think that the soft-spoken Obama will be the one to destroy the al-Assad regime and end the threat posed by the Iranian regime during his second term. Anyone who knows the US administration’s work mechanism will be well aware of the extent of the president’s influence in his second term. In these four years, the president will be stronger and more able to take decisive action. We must not neglect the fact that whilst President Obama was building positive relations with the Arabs and Muslims four years ago, he was also simultaneously pursuing Osama Bin Laden until he was ultimately successful in killing him. Whilst, at the same time that he was withdrawing his troops from Iraq, Obama imposed the heaviest sanctions on the regime of the Supreme Guide in Tehran, causing a near-collapse of the Iranian economy.

Therefore, those who think that they can use Obama should think again. This soft-spoken man has achieved more victories in the Middle East than his predecessor George W. Bush. He restored US relations with the Arabs and Muslims after this had reached an all-time low over the past half century. He succeeded in strengthening these relations to the point that when he ordered the killing of Bin Laden, no protests were seen in the Arab Street, for the Arabs were convinced of Obama’s good intentions in the same manner that they were quite certain of the evil nature of Al Qaeda. In addition to this, Obama managed, over the previous four years, to economically and politically suffocate Iran more than any time since the beginning of Tehran’s struggle with the Americans in the 1980s.

Although Obama is accused of letting down the Syrian people’s revolution – deemed the fieriest and most important revolution of the entire Arab Spring – we have to wait and see what he will do in the post-election period. We do not know to what extent he is prepared to intervene in the Syrian crisis, yet I expect that Obama will adopt a more aggressive policy and will include his name as a partner in overthrowing the last of the evil Arab dictatorships. However, we must also be aware that this particular issue may become exceedingly complex. Obama may therefore prefer to lead from behind in the toppling of the al-Assad regime and therefore let Arab states take the initiative.

It is not a matter of guesswork when we say that the al-Assad regime will fall, even without American intervention, yet it is not easy to anticipate what happens next, and this is when the American role becomes crucial.

At the same time, we must not generalize and exaggerate or build up too many expectations with regards to Obama’s actions in Arab affairs because he does not possess the necessary capabilities in this regard, or perhaps does not want to interfere in the Arab revolutions or regional disputes. The constant factor in American policy, as well as the positions of each new president, is not to be negligent towards the vital oil-producing areas of the world. This is something that will reflect on America’s relationship with Iraq, the Gulf States and Iran.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former 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 Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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