President Obama is facing a major crisis in the Middle East, a crisis of his own doing. Every element of his Middle East plan has gone to hell in a hand-basket. Obama’s overall philosophy has been the only way to bring peace to the area (and win the War on Islamic Fascism) is to have all of the complicated solutions to all the complicated issues worked out all at once.
To that end he tried to
- Outreach to the government of Iran
- Outreach to the government of Syria
- Force Israel into what he perceives is a minor concession so he can appear “neutral” in the conflict.
- Force the Arab nations (not the PA) to make a minor concession to Israel to appear serious in wanting to normalize relations with the Jewish State
- If all of the above works, the Arab States will pressure the PA toward an agreement and the US will pressure Israel toward an agreement.
Let’s take a look at what happened:
- Outreach to Iran: Even before the Iranian election Ahmadinejad was slapping away the outstreached hand of the US. In May the Iranian Tyrant said:
“Alongside the resistance and steadfastness, we must also strive to create a new world order; otherwise new oppressive regimes will emerge.” He called the West’s fundamental values “inhuman and belonging to past decades,” adding: “They [i.e. the Westerners] are trying to open new doors with the keys to old locks, without noticing that, today, it is the humane and divine path that is the code to opening the locks of humanity. They are decades behind, and can be described, in two words, as politically retarded… The philosophy and order that emerged after World War II have come to the end of their road, and [the West] is unable to offer solutions for the world’s problems, since its thinking is based on discrimination and on [undermining] security.” Source MEMRI
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With the post-election violence, Iran’s position has hardened.
- Outreach To Syria: The relationship between Iran is unbreakable right now. Until Iran acts “Friendly” neither will Syria. Just today Sky News aired an interview with President Obama where he said that he will continue to try and engage Syria but “There are aspects of Syrian behavior that trouble us and we think that there is a way that Syria can be much more constructive on a whole host of these issues.”
- Force Israel into a minor concession: What the President and his advisers perceived as a minor concession, a settlement freeze, was not perceived by Israel as a minor concession. This was a major error by the administration. Their insistence for a freeze and the constant public berating of the Jewish State has turned the Israeli population against Obama, and strengthened the hand of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.
His public blasting of Israel has weakened his support among American Jews who initially “bought into” his pledge that he was a “friend” of Israel. Especially when the news came out that Obama was breaking a pledge made to Israel by the Bush administration.
At the same time the administration miscalculation has given ammunition to the Palestinians, who prefer the status quo to any peace negotiations. President Abbas has declared that he would not resume negotiations until there was a settlement freeze:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not resume peace talks with Israel until there is “a complete halt to settlement activities.” In an interview published Sunday with the Egyptian weekly October, the PA president insisted that a halt to construction in West Bank settlements was not a Palestinian condition, but rather a condition set by US President Barack Obama.
- Force the Arab nations (not the PA) to make a minor concession to Israel: The President assumed that the “moderate” Arab nations would help him out by making a minor gesture of peace to Israel. But the Arab states are unwilling to make a gesture. From their point of view the Saudi peace plan, which will result in the end of Israel as a Jewish State, is the only concession they are willing to make until everything else is decided.
So where does all this leave Obama’s Middle East policy? In ruins. While the US continues to press Israel for a settlement freeze, the administration is impotent because every element is falling apart. Syria and Iran aren’t looking for engagement. He has turned the Israeli populace against him and strengthened the hand of Prime Minister Netanyahu. At the same time he as eroded his own support among American Jews and other US friends of Israel. He cannot count on support of the Arab League nations and has given the President of the Palestinian Authority and “out” from re-entering negotiations.
Any US pressure on Israel will remain only on a “verbal” level; there will be no sanctions or loss of aid. The administration has come to the realization that it cannot punish Israel because even if there was a compromise on settlements, the other side is not going to embrace peace. President Obama’s misjudgment of Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab States will soon lead to the President putting the Middle East on the back burner so he can concentrate on efforts that have a chance to succeed.