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Opinion: Obama, isolationist in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in San Jose, Calif. , Friday, June 7, 2013. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Ever since Barack Obama took office some five years ago, he was compared to former President Jimmy Carter, and was described to be identical to him.

This description was repeated during the periods of unrest in Egypt and Tunisia, because he repeated Carter’s stance during the Tehran unrest, which led to the toppling of the Shah of Iran and Khomeini’s taking of power.

It is fair to say, however, that Obama made the right choice when he took a neutral stance on Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, even when he chose to join in the war, along with Britain and France, in Libya, in order to topple the Gadhafi regime. This is because they were actions which had come from the street against regimes which had failed to develop themselves, and which became difficult to save from their own mistakes.

In Syria, however, Obama chose the wrong stance, which has dangerous repercussions on the region, and later the world. He allowed the Assad regime, along with the Iranians and Hezbollah, to besiege the popular uprising until it became a danger to the region.

Senator John McCain is more aware of what is going on; he knows that Syria is filled with many dangers, and that his country should be taking a lead role. He said: “The Middle East is more important than just oil. The United States has friends and allies in the Middle East who rely on the United States for their security, and contribute to America’s security and stability more than Americans’ know. However, they will recognize this role; believe me, if the navigation in the Suez Canal was affected, or if we lost important partners like Jordan.”

Obama’s Administration is currently making every effort to pursue Iranian ships around the world, to stop them selling oil, or to search their cargo to stop them delivering weapons. The irony is that the same American government is today keeping quiet about thousands of Iranians who are fighting in Syria. This massive contradiction between chasing ships around the oceans, and keeping quiet about thousands of armed men, is confusing many. We have not known such a great role for Moscow in the region since 1972, and Iran has not been able to operate in the region, except in Lebanon and Gaza, and in a limited way.

Does Obama’s position mean the end of the Eisenhower principle, which became US policy since 1957, and to leave the Middle East to the Russians and the Iranians? Like McCain said, the dangers of the Middle East for the world have always been great, and what the Iranians are doing in Syria is to turn it into a base to launch their terrorist projects which will threaten everyone.

President Obama is almost the only US president to have been liked by many Arabs because he came to their area and he spoke their language and addressed their hopes, and supported their revolutions. Today, he has lost all that because he let them down in Syria, despite the terrible things that are taking place, and the massacres, and the terrible weapons being used in its war, including banned heavy and chemical weapons.