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Living with Obama for another four years? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I’m still convinced that President Obama committed several mistakes in our region during his first term. With regards to Iran, Obama ignored the Green Revolution, helped to place Iraq under Iranian influence, and overdid the soft diplomacy with Tehran when it came to the Iranian nuclear file. In the Arab world, Obama has made mistakes in his dealings with the Arab Spring states, particularly when strengthening the influence of political Islam there. Finally, he neglected the Syrian revolution and of course failed to accomplish anything of note with regards to the Palestinian cause.

Now Obama has won a second term, what does this mean, and how should we deal with him? To answer this we must examine several important international stances that came to light immediately after Obama’s victory. Obama winning a second term means that he will be more liberated and powerful; he no longer has to worry about another electoral campaign, making him able to take tougher stances. Thus we must consider the international statements issued immediately after the announcement of Obama’s victory, in order to understand how many are now keen to promote their own interests. The most significant of these statements was issued by the British Prime Minister, who congratulated Obama and said: “Right here in Jordan I am hearing appalling stories about what has happened inside Syria so one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis”. David Cameron’s statement effectively means: We gave you space throughout the electoral campaign and did not complicate matters with regards to sensitive issues, most importantly Syria, and now it’s time for action.

The other important statement was issued by Russia, where the Russian President welcomed Obama’s re-election, expressing his readiness to develop and improve “initiatives in bilateral relations and in Russian-US interaction on the international arena”. Furthermore, the Russian Foreign Minister said that his country is ready to “to go as far as the US administration is willing to go”. If we add to that Turkey’s rapid moves to request “Patriot” missiles from NATO, which suggests we are witnessing the beginnings of buffer zones being imposed in Syria, then we can note from all of the above that the wheel, specifically with regards to Syria, has moved quickly and everyone is now looking out for their own interests. Washington issued implicit messages effectively saying “wait until the elections are over”, and is clear that America’s allies have waited with restraint despite the suffering of the Syrians. Now they are calling on Obama to move quickly.

The question here is: What about our region, specifically Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states? The answer is that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf must pursue rapid diplomatic action. Washington can’t leave our region, specifically the Gulf states, at the mercy of hostile parties, whether they are the followers of political Islam or those claiming to be activists, who are actually advocates of division and destabilization, serving the purposes of Islamic groups and even Iran. This is what was proven in the crisis of the Arab Spring, where the Arab “activists”, as Washington saw them, were nothing but facades for the forces that eventually benefitted. Criticizing Obama will not change anything, and waiting for the unknown will be a disaster, so what we need now is a diplomatic uprising with the best of expertise and a clear vision. This is so that we do not come up against any more surprises from Washington in the future, especially since action is long overdue when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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