Often have I written about the Obama’s abysmal record in the Middle East. Precious few others seem to care about it at all.
Today I will share how Arab leaders in the region view the Obama foreign policy. This comes to us via Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby in the Wall Street Journal.
These leaders are cautiously optimistic about the advent of the Trump administration. But, they are thrilled to see the Obama administration depart.
Fradkin and Libby report:
‘Obama’s lean years are over and we are now witnessing a new chapter which we hope will be an alternative to the mistakes of the abysmal past.” A Trump supporter’s postelection boast? Hardly. It’s how Turki Aldakhil, a Saudi broadcaster who is general manager of the Al Arabiya news service, greeted President-elect Trump in a recent article.
They report the attitudes expressed at a recent conference in Abu Dhabi:
But at the mid-November Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate, held by the Emirates Policy Center and the Atlantic Council, Mr. Aldakhil and most Arab and Muslim participants were upbeat about the change in U.S. leadership.
Many principal speakers, including Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, the chairwoman of the conference, and Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah, the former foreign minister of Kuwait, as well as speakers from the floor, returned again and again to the threat Iran had become and the failure of President Obama’s policies to deal with this threat.
Summing this all up, Mr. Aldakhil wrote in the Saudi daily Okaz on Nov. 13, “No one will weep” for Mr. Obama’s departure. The president “brought our region nothing but hesitance toward the Iranian axis, while flirting with and rewarding it, and strictness toward the Gulf axis, while evading agreements.” He was referring to security-related guarantees and promises made by Mr. Obama at Camp David in May 2015 to calm Arab fears about the Iranian nuclear deal.
Then they offer us an overview, especially as concerns the Obama policy toward Iran:
Mr. Obama leaves the region with multiple and worsening challenges, not only the incomplete war against Islamic State. The Obama legacy includes an empowered Iran that threatens American interests, destabilizes the Sunni world, and violates agreements on missiles and nuclear development. Multiple, heavily sectarian Sunni-Shiite civil wars rage.
Iraq, which the Obama administration claimed as a triumph, writhes in domestic strife under a heavy Iranian hand. Prospects for more moderate Syrian opposition forces, once promising, have plummeted due to years of attrition and Western neglect during an unrelenting Iranian-backed assault on opponents of Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime.
Meanwhile—as noted by Ali Al Noemi, who attended the Abu Dhabi conference as secretary-general of the United Arab Emirates’ Council of Muslim Elders—growing Sunni Islamist extremism, including the Muslim Brotherhood, endangers regional stability. Turkey, a supposed ally but strongly influenced by its own version of the Brotherhood, proves unreliable in good will and capacity.
Participants were excited at the appointments of people like Gen. James Mattis and Gen. Michael Flynn. Middle Easterners are apparently not worried about a military “junta” taking over the government. One understands that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are of the same opinion.
Speaking of General Mattis and General Flynn they note that these men have a clear vision of Middle Eastern geopolitics:
Gen. Mattis, speaking at a conference on April 21, described the Iranian regime as “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” In his June 10, 2015 congressional testimony, Gen. Flynn decried what he called Iran’s “negative behavior and expanding influence.” To resist ISIS and Iranian aggressions, Gen. Flynn testified in favor of greater U.S. engagement, including organizing and arming Arab forces “able to secure their regional responsibilities”.