January 09, 2016 (GMN) - Barack Obama rose to power in the US by promising to end George W. Bush’s wars and to improve America’s relationships in the Middle East. On the campaign trail, Obama committed to “bringing about a more lasting peace in the region.”
Barack Obama rose to power in the US by promising to end George W. Bush’s wars and to improve America’s relationships in the Middle East. On the campaign trail, Obama committed to “bringing about a more lasting peace in the region.”
Over the past seven years, however, the Middle East has become less stable and less peaceful than it was under Bush.
Obama has not solved the Arab-Israeli conflict; in fact, the security situation in Israel is rapidly deteriorating. And now, thanks to Obama’s engagement with Iran, a new Arab-Persian conflict has emerged. The cold war between Iran and its Arab neighbours has suddenly intensified into a heated clash.
The Shiite government in Iran and the Sunni government in Saudi Arabia have long fought proxy wars across the region, including the ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
But during the first week of 2016, the rival powers entered into a direct feud.
The flare up began when Saudi Arabia executed a popular Shiite cleric, which prompted a mob attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The Saudis escalated matters further by cutting diplomatic ties, ending Iran-bound commercial flights, and convincing neighbouring Sunni nations to downgrade relations with its Persian adversary.
Iran has since accused the Saudis of bombing its embassy in Yemen.
US diplomats reportedly tried to stop the hostilities before they began, by begging Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of the Shiite cleric. But the Saudis blatantly ignored the Obama administration, demonstrating just how damaged this relationship has become.
Obama disturbed the calm between Iran and its Arab neighbours when he cut a deal with Tehran’s mullahs.
For years, Iran has violated international law by attempting to build a nuclear bomb and by sponsoring international Islamic terrorism. For years, the US responded by freezing Iran’s assets in Western banks and placing ever-increasing sanctions against the Iranian government.
Abandoning decades of US foreign policy, Obama tried to build a legacy for himself by signing a peace treaty with Iran. He worked long and hard to reach the politically unpopular agreement, and in July 2015, with the help of the UN Security Council and Germany, Obama cut a deal with Iran.
This deal was supposed to guarantee that Iran would not build a nuclear bomb. In exchange, the West would lift its punishing economic sanctions.
Indeed, Iran will soon gain access to $100 billion in frozen assets.
Some lauded this as a breakthrough in international diplomacy. Those who watch Iran carefully, however, were not celebrating.
Iran is not a typical government. It is led by unpredictable revolutionaries and radical Islamists who impose strict Sharia. Its leaders curse America and threaten Israel daily. (The Saudis, too, have a terrible human rights record, but at least they pretend to play nice with the West.)
Since the nuclear deal was reached, the world has learned just how untrustworthy and undeserving Iran truly is. A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that — counter to what they had promised — Iran was secretly developing a nuclear weapons program.
Just months after the nuclear deal was reached, Iran began testing its nuclear-capable missiles – a direct provocation against America and its allies. Iran continues to boldly breach the agreement by rolling out this illegal ballistic missile program.
The Obama Administration’s realignment towards Iran has left America’s Arab and Israeli allies feeling alienated and abandoned.
Obama is playing with fire. And it’s America’s allies who may get burned.