Thursday, December 26, 2013

Obama's Middle East Policy Unravels

We all remember President Obama’s grand vision for the Middle East.

Democracy in Egypt was one of the highlights. The administration was so happy that Egypt held a democratic election that it was willing to overlook the fact that the winner belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, the first foreign dignitary to visit with newly elected president Mohamed Morsi was none other than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The administration’s role model for Islamic democracy was the increasingly repressive regime of Turkey’s Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In fact, President Erdogan became Obama’s best friend in the Middle East.

How’s it all working out.

Well, two days ago the government of Egypt branded the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

The BBC reported:

Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa announced the move, which will give the authorities more power to crack down on the Brotherhood.

He said that those who belonged to the group, financed it or promoted its activities would face punishment.

The action was in response to Tuesday's suicide bombing of a police headquarters in Mansoura, in the Nile Delta, which killed 16 people and wounded more than 100, he said.

"Egypt was horrified from north to south by the hideous crime committed by the Muslim Brotherhood group," Mr Eissa said.

"This was in context of dangerous escalation to violence against Egypt and Egyptians and a clear declaration by the Muslim Brotherhood group that it still knows nothing but violence.

"It's not possible for Egypt the state nor Egypt the people to submit to the Muslim Brotherhood terrorism."

As for the U. S. relationship with Turkey, it has been going downhill at a rapid clip.

The New York Times explains the diplomatic debacle:

It was only a couple of years ago that President Obama, struggling for an American response to the uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Syria, was said to be speaking with Mr. Erdogan more than the American president was to any world leader, with the exception of the British prime minister, David Cameron. And it was a source of pride for Turks: One newspaper at the time hailed the frequent conversations as a sign of Turkey’s “ascent in the international arena.”

“There was a honeymoon from 2010 until the summer of 2013,” said Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It was guided by the personal rapport Obama and Erdogan had established.”

That now seems a long time ago here. The reality, say analysts, is that the two countries’ foreign policies have been notably diverging, and that the blowup over the corruption investigation and the American diplomatic contingent is being taken as the latest sign of a deepening distrust.

They are at odds over Egypt, where Turkey had been a strong supporter of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, and where the United States has sought a relationship with Egypt’s new military rulers.

In Syria, Turkey has aggressively backed and armed rebel fighters, and felt betrayed when the United States backed away from military action against the Syrian government in September. In Iraq, American officials believe the Turks, by signing oil contracts with the northern Kurdish region that cut out the central government in Baghdad, are pursuing a policy that could lead to the country’s breakup.

Naturally, the Obama administration has lost control of the situation. Foreign policy is not for amateurs.


Stuart Schneiderman said...

If anything, administration policy has not been friendly to Israel at all. It has been pressuring Israel to make more and more concessions to the Palestinians.

While John Kerry obsesses about the Israeli-Palestinian question he is neglecting the rest of the region.

Given the choice between Israel and Hamas, or Israel and Syria, or Israel and Libya... it isn't too difficult to figure out that Israel is the one country in the region that embodies democratic values and that practices free enterprise.

You think it would be better to support Hezbollah?

Sam L. said...

I believe you started with a bad, or at least unproven, assumption that his policy was raveled at the beginning.

I would add PLO, Hamas, and Fatah to Hezbollah.

Glengarry said...

"He said that those who belonged to the group, financed it or promoted its activities would face punishment."

Look out, State!