Obama Has Destroyed America’s Credibility in the Middle East
Who would have imagined just a few months ago that any world leader would have declined a personal invitation by a sitting U.S. president to the White House? But this just happened when four of six leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) declined to attend the recent Iran summit at Camp David. Under the Obama Administration, the United States has seriously undermined its credibility amongst Middle Eastern countries. This will have serious implications for American and European national security.
By caving to Iran in nuclear discussions and alienating other countries, Obama has de facto abandoned America’s three closest allies in the Middle East: Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
For the last few years, Iran has been waging an undercover war to undermine its rivals. In 2009, according to Israeli sources, the UAE uncovered a plot by Iran to blow up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. In 2011, Adel al Jubeir, then Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. was the target of a foiled Iranian assassination attempt. His recent appointment as Foreign Minister, a first for a non-royal, was clearly intended to convey the Kingdom’s dissatisfaction with the Iran stance. The White House did not get the message.
Iran is getting a hugely one-sided nuclear deal. If it were not for French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius storming out of a meeting in Switzerland in November 2013, a deal would have already been inked with Iran essentially getting a free pass. Yuval Steinitz, former Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, stated that France and Israel see eye to eye on nuclear negotiations.
The Saudis have clearly stated that they won’t sit idle in face of an Iranian threat. While Saudi Arabia and Israel have held secret security briefings since 2006, concerns over Obama’s Iranian deal have made the alliance between Jerusalem, Riyadh, and Cairo stronger than ever.
The Obama Administration has bent over backwards to obtain an agreement with Iran on its nuclear operations. At the same time the U.S. is cooperating with Iran against the Islamic State in Iraq.
Obama drew a “red line” over chemical attacks by the Assad regime, and did not act on it. Middle Eastern countries then realized that this U.S. president does not honor his word and cannot be trusted. The same holds true for Obama’s decision to abandon the Sunnis in Iraq. Most Middle East observers feel that America has lost its neutrality. Obama has chosen the Shia and Iran camp over the Sunnis in this centuries-long conflict between the two sects.
America is literally losing its place in the sun. Both France and Russia are very happily replacing it. If French President Hollande had invited GCC leaders to Paris, both the new Saudi King Salman and King Hamad Isa bin al Khalifa of Bahrain would have surely attended. Hollande got the ultimate honor of being invited to attend the recent GCC summit in Riyadh, an invitation that had never previously been extended to any Western leader.
Obama’s failed policies in the Middle East are coming at a heavy cost to the U.S. economy considering the loss of new military contracts. Saudi Arabia financed Egyptian fighter jets purchased recently from France and Russia. The Kingdom provided France with $3 billion for weapons on behalf of Lebanon. France also landed a contract with Qatar to provide 24 Rafale fighter jets. These latest purchases can be viewed more as a punishment for Obama than a reward for Hollande’s tough stance on Iran and Syria.
Leaders in the Middle East, from Saudi to Israel to Egypt, cannot wait for the moment that Obama leaves the White House. GCC leaders are not shy about voicing their opinion. Obama came to power saying that he was going to do a 360 from George W Bush’s foreign policy in the Middle East, and would focus on repairing the US relationship with the Muslim world. Interestingly enough, after six years, Obama has succeeded in antagonizing possibly most of the Sunnis that represent 90% of the Muslims around the world. Not a small feat in itself…
Kalman Sporn is a Middle East strategist and advisor to Vatican based Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Mr. Sporn is also the Vice Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Leadership Conference. Twitter @kalmansporn