US President Barack Obama’s Camp David summit with Gulf State leaders has backfired in more ways than one. It has turned into a diplomatic debacle.
Obama had invited the leaders of the six Persian Gulf allies to Washington with the aim of persuading them to back his planned nuclear deal with Iran, their arch enemy. After the White House first announced that the new Saudi King Salman would attend, the monarch gave Obama the cold shoulder by rejecting the invitation. In a jibe at Obama, King Salman said he was too busy fighting the Iranian backed threat from Yemen. Three other Gulf leaders followed suit by sending lower level officials in an obvious snub. Obama was planning to offer the Gulf Cooperation Council members stepped up military aid in return for going along with the deal that would leave Iran with 5,000 centrifuges (for producing enriched uranium for A-bombs as well as an advanced nuclear research project and the capability for ballistic missiles to deliver the nuclear warheads).
Thanks but no thanks!
Arab countries can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its (nuclear) capability and amass its research.
The Saudis and the rest of the Sunni Muslim world are not buying. In an interview with the New York Times, a senior Saudi official has now declared that his country and the other Arab states intend to match Iran’s nuclear capability:
“Arab countries can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its (nuclear) capability and amass its research.”
It was the second Saudi slap in Obama’s face. Recently Prince Turki al-Faisal, a senior Saudi Intelligence official, accused the US President of ‘going behind the backs of America’s traditional allies to strike the deal with Iran!’
Gradually, it is becoming more and more apparent that the US administration is totally out of touch with the current reality in the Middle East in general, and with Iran in particular.
At long last, ‘hysterical’ Israel is not the only Middle East state to openly criticize the nuclear accord that Obama is trying to reach with Tehran by June 30th. Gradually, it is becoming more and more apparent that the US administration is totally out of touch with the current reality in the Middle East in general, and with Iran in particular. Just look at what President Obama has just said in an interview with the Arab newspaper Asharq al-Wasat. The American leader probably thought he would win the hearts and minds of the Arab leaders – on the contrary, they probably hit the roof! It raises the question, where are the American experts on the Arab world who serve on the White House staff, the National Security Council and the US State Department? Have they not tried to warn the President that his pivot to Shiite Tehran will enrage the Sunni Arab world? Or is it a case of Obama being locked on to a grand strategy for the Middle East that envisages Iran as its corner stone?
Bear in mind that the Sunni Arab world and the Shiite Persian state are two different peoples with two different Muslim religions who literally detest one another. They have been historical enemies dating back for centuries. Consider this: in an interview, a Sunni father was once asked about the possibility of his daughter marrying a Shiite husband. He replied angrily:
“Better that she be forced to wed a Jew!”
When it comes to Iran’s future I cannot predict Iran’s internal dynamics.
In other words, Obama’s shift to Iran in recent years has started a ground swell of resentment and suspicion throughout Arab capitals. Is it not amazing that despite the charm campaign conducted by President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards refuse to let it interfere with their aggressive policy in Yemen? In his ‘Alice in Wonderland’ world, Obama chooses to play down the reality of his own US Navy now having to go face-to-face with menacing Iranian warships in the Persian Gulf and off the coast of Yemen. But let’s look at Obama’s interview, which he opens by pledging his support for security of the region and to the GCC partners. To his credit Obama admits:
“When it comes to Iran’s future I cannot predict Iran’s internal dynamics.”
No one expects Obama to be a prophet but what about considering past experience? What does Barbara Tuchman’s ‘lantern on the stern’ indicate about the Islamist regime’s course of action in the future? Is this not a factor when it comes to taking the risk of a nuclear deal with all the holes that Henry Kissinger and George Shultz panned as virtual Swiss cheese? Again Obama agrees that the Gulf States have good reason to be concerned about a nuclear Iran, and yes, Iran sponsors terror in the region. But then the U.S. President turns logic on its head:
“If we successfully address the nuclear question and Iran begins to receive relief from some nuclear sanctions, it could lead to more investments in the Iranian economy and more opportunity for the Iranian people, which could strengthen the hand of more moderate leaders in Iran. More Iranians could see that constructive engagement, not confrontation with the international community, is the better path.”
The nuclear deal will spark an economic boom that will enable the Ayatollahs to show the Iranian people that it’s possible to develop nuclear weapons and also enjoy an economic boom!
With all due respect to the leader of the free world, this is the most convoluted American policy for the Middle East that has ever been articulated. It is no less than an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ illusion applied to one of the most vicious and fanatical regimes on the face of the planet. It flies in the face of the current reality, and unfortunately President Obama sounds like the Mad Hatter. Rather than trigger a massive uprising for popular support for ‘moderate leaders’, the nuclear deal will spark an economic boom that will enable the Ayatollahs to show the Iranian people that it’s possible to develop nuclear weapons and also enjoy an economic boom! It will serve to boost the regime’s popularity, not diminish it. Menashe Amir, an Israeli expert on Iran, argues that Obama’s perception of Iran is totally flawed:
“President Obama perceives Iran as if it were a Canada or Switzerland, and this is certainly not the case. The Iranian people can decide nothing without the approval of the regime, which persecutes the people. Moreover, the fanatical regime is determined to acquire nuclear weapons at all costs, believing it will not only boost Iran’s regional hegemony but will also expedite the coming of the Shiite Mahdi, or Guided One (Messiah).”
QED: Obama’s nuclear deal + Saudi reaction = nuclear arms race in Middle East
PS: Apology is in order – In a report blog I referred to Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog as an Israeli version of Britain’s Ed Miliband. Herzog has just delivered a hard-hitting Knesset speech that hauled Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu over the coals for giving in to the exorbitant demands of his coalition partners in the new Israeli government. The question is where were Herzog’s oratorical skill and conviction during the last election campaign? If Herzog perseveres, he may become Prime Minister yet. In defense of his political horse-trading in forging a new cabinet with a bare 61-seat majority in the 120-member Parliament, Netanyahu blamed it on the electoral system that he said must be changed. In any case, Herzog scotched any possibility of accepting a Netanyahu offer to join the government as Foreign Minister.