Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Arab Spring Card | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In a world where the intertwining of events has become the norm, it is not surprising whatsoever to see the developments in the Middle East in general and the Arab Spring in particular having an impact on Western politics, particularly as it is an election year in both the US and France. The economic situation in both countries is also deteriorating, and this will therefore be the major issue that affects the election, whilst both Obama and Sarkozy’s attempts to stimulate the national economy and growth have met with failure.

Therefore, the Arab and French presidents switched their focus to the Arab Spring in a bid to take some credit for the results of the Middle East popular uprisings and portray this as a national security achievement for their countries. The fall of tyrants and extremists like [Hosni Mubarak, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Muammar Gaddafi, Osama Bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki enables both presidents to promote themselves as guardians of democracy and global security, and encourages them to try to reap more benefits from this issue. This explains the anticipated escalation against the al-Assad regime, with its collapse being the grand prize in the electoral campaigns of both Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy, before the actual electoral showdown.

The Republican candidates who are hoping to run against the US President are incapable of responding to Obama on the issue of national security and the achievements he has made in this field, especially if we add the forthcoming withdrawal from Iraq and the reduction of US forces in Afghanistan, which are both popular demands by the US public. If we look at the Republican polls, we can see that no leader capable of winning the [electoral] confrontation with Obama has emerged from amongst the Republican presidential candidates. The Republican candidate who was most recently topping the polls, Herman Cain, is an unknown, with no previous political experience. His greatest achievement is that he was formerly chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, and before that he served as the regional vice president of a burger chain. He also served as Deputy Chairman and later Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He is a simple man of the people; he speaks in a casual manner and presented an unprecedentedly level-headed and palatable tax scheme. However, it is highly unlikely that he will manage to win the Republican presidential nomination, due to the Republican Party’s leadership being unconvinced about his political competence and viability not to mention the latest harassment scandal.

Meanwhile, Obama is facing waves of protest against greed in the world of business; particularly with regards to financial companies and their CEOs. Protestors regard these figures as a symbol of everything that is wrong in the Capitalist West today and Obama is trying to exploit this situation as much as possible. He has been aided in this endeavour by a decrease in unemployment rates, and a boost in the performance of the US stock market. However the economic situation still remains highly troubling for both Obama and Sarkozy. This means that they will search for more victories in the national security arena in order to remind voters of their importance as active leaders on the international circuit. This is also the reason why US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appointed Walid Phares as his national security adviser on foreign policy. Walid Phares was, and remains, a radical neo-conservative player. Phares is an anti-Muslim, anti-Arab Lebanese Maronite who does his best to please the Zionist right-wing. I personally confronted him during two television talk shows, and his ideology and views almost caused me to throw up!

National security and the Arab Spring will be important issues in the US and French presidential elections. Each presidential candidate will hold their cards close to their chests and try to play the hand that they are dealt as best they can, however some of the candidates have a trump card, namely the Arab Spring card, and they will be tempted to play this when the time is right!