Yesterday our newspaper published an amazing story, quoting the New York Times, demonstrating how the US President has dealt with the Arab Spring in a simplistic and frivolous manner, and how the US administration has acted with emotion rather than political nous. What is most amazing about the story is the conversation that took place between Barack Obama and Hosni Mubarak.
During a telephone call, Mubarak said to Obama: “You don’t understand this part of the world,” after Obama had asked him to step down from power! The story goes on to show how Obama acted emotionally rather than politically, and of course the days and events over the past four years show that Obama does not really understand this part of the world; that he is an intellectual President rather than a politician, and this is a real danger. Obama came to power with the desire to be the antithesis of his predecessor, George W. Bush. He wanted to promote respect rather than impose the agenda of democracy. Yet Obama stood silent with regards to the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009, but then regretted his “muted stance” according to the New York Times story. When the Arab Spring broke out, Obama made another wrong decision. He considered everything that was happening everywhere in the Arab to be some form of revolution, without distinguishing between the facts and without basing his judgment on history or geography. He equated Egypt with Bahrain with Tunisia with Yemen, and this was the kind of error we have seen committed by some ignorant Arab Twitter or Facebook users. Meanwhile, Obama has hesitated in front of the mother of all Arab revolutions, the Syrian revolution, the success of which would not only change Syria but the region as a whole, and would put an end to Iranian expansion and to the most deplorable, criminal Arab regime. Nevertheless, President Obama continues to make one mistake after another.
Obama considered the events in Bahrain to be a revolution and overlooked the sectarian divide and Iranian ambitions there. The irony is that the public movement in Bahrain was supported by Iran, whereas the revolution in Syria is an uprising against a regime that has handed the country as a whole over to Iran, allowing it to deploy groups seeking to destroy the concept of the state, and allowing Tehran to use Syrian territory to promote its influence throughout the region.
Obama’s errors, or let’s say the errors of the US administration, are no less serious than the errors of the Bush administration, which handed Iraq over to Iran. All these American mistakes, whether in Iraq or the countries of the Arab Spring, show that the US policy towards the region has fallen victim to a poisonous campaign implemented by some Arab groups, whether [Sunni] Islamists – especially the Muslim Brotherhood, Christians or Shiites. If this indicates anything it shows the weakness of Arab diplomacy, specifically in the Gulf, when it comes to communicating with the US administration and institutions there as a whole, in addition to the errors committed by the Arab regimes in understanding the variables around them.
If the New York Times story serves to highlight a flaw in President Obama, it is his lack of personal relationships with world leaders. Yet we have to admit that one of the main flaws in our rational Arab regimes is the absence of active diplomacy. The evidence of this is what is happening in Syria, and Obama alone cannot be blamed for the lack of action there. The blame also lies with us for not being able to explain “this part of the world” to him, as Mubarak said. Yet for his part, Mubarak seemed to have forgotten that “this part of the world” cannot accept a president staying in power for thirty years and then intending to bequeath his position to his son!