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Obama's Problems: From One Gulf to the Next - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I do not know whether Barack Obama is the least fortunate US President or whether it is the nature of the presidential job where major domestic interests intersect and where forces throughout the world battle around it. The man is up to his ears in tumultuous problems that are threatening his presidency although he has not yet completed half his four-year term in office.

As soon as he assumed the presidency, Obama inherited the most serious financial crisis in US history and three major wars – Iraq, Afghanistan, and Al-Qaeda – in the world. His term in office also coincided with the approaching nuclear zero hour in Iran that forces him – more than any other of his predecessors – to take a fateful decision to confront or to appease Iran. This will be the most serious decision that he will make since the decision made by former President John Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis about half a century ago. The President is up to his ears in the waters of the Arabian Gulf and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico where the biggest environmental pollution in the history of the United States is taking place. The broken oil pipe has become more dangerous to Obama than the Iranian nuclear reactors. This broken pipe – that was belittled at first by everyone – is threatening him of losing the approaching primary elections. Polls have shown that it has made him lose most of his supporters and ignited criticism against him, and he, in turn, has moved the battle against the British BP Company.

Obama’s luck is not better than that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. McChrystal, one of his most decorated generals, has opened fire at him by digressing from the traditional conduct of a military person whose first duty is to obey orders, not to attack them. In a press interview that moved the battle from Afghanistan to Washington, McChrystal criticized Obama’s war strategy and accused it of being behind the failures thus bringing back to mind the problems that Bush faced in Iraq before him. In the Middle East, where love does not last long, Obama lost many supporters through his inability to push the peace plan forward due to Netanyahu that cast nails on the path of his envoy to the negotiations. Then came Turkish Prime Minister to shuffle the cards. We do not know whether it is Obama’s domestic preoccupations or his excessively soft style of dealing with countries in the region that are behind his failures in our region. But people usually do not care about reasons. They look for results and these do not augur much. His foes are many and they range from the American McChrystal, Britain’s BP, Israel’s Bibi [Netanyahu], Turkey’s Erdogan, and Iran’s Ahmadinejad. Because of Obama’s drowning in the oil spill and his quandary in the caves of Afghanistan, few are thanking him for his important victory over the Iranian regime. He succeeded in mobilizing global support against Iran and pushing through sanctions against it in the Security Council. Obama thus scored a magnificent goal in the long match against Iran’s nuclear supporters.

Although our attention is focused only on external issues, the President cannot move forward much in any external affair if he loses his popularity internally. The approaching congressional primaries will determine the President’s fate. If his comrades in the Democratic Party lose, this means that he will not be able to do much in the two years that will follow. Perhaps a Palestinian state will not be established, there will be no peace, Iraq may fall in the hands of the Iranians, and the terrorist organizations and extremist groups will raise the level of violence in our region. They will feel that the resident of the White House is unable to move forward in any direction. However, if his party wins the coming congressional elections, this will give him another chance to manage the world the way he wishes.

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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