Obama’s Middle East: Fettering And Collusion – OpEd


By Eyad Abu Shakra*

For President Barack Obama to enjoy around 55% support among Americans according to the latest polls, a few weeks before the election of the new president, is a very interesting phenomenon. It is interesting especially as America’s international credibility wanes and prestige tumbles to the extent that a Yemeni militia subservient to Iran managed to target one of its navy’s ships three times within the space of a few days.

The ends of US presidential terms, more so the penultimate and last terms, usually point to voters getting tired of the boss in the White House. Even ‘ultra-charismatic’ presidents like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton failed to achieve the popularity of Obama near the end of their sojourns in the Oval Office. Indeed, the 55% figure is much higher than the figures achieved by either the Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. So what is the “secret” behind Obama’s continuing popularity within America, while losing his glitter abroad, even reaching unprecedented lows in regions like the Middle East?

Most likely, there are two very important reasons. The first is that Obama has succeeded in securing a social and economic ‘safety net’ inside America, mainly in the fields of healthcare, employment, economic upturn and improvement in living conditions after the pains suffered by ordinary Americans during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. In democracies, it is a well-known fact that a voter passes judgement on his/her elected leaders based on how they directly affect his/her direct interests, regardless of anything else.

The second reason is that Americans are getting sick and tired of political involvement and military adventures abroad, and are becoming inclined instead to look inward and concentrate on issues close to their livelihood. Thus, what many — especially in the Middle East — regard as Washington’s letting down, if not betraying its global allies, this is viewed as wise and prudent policy by ordinary American voters who cannot see why their children should die in foreign lands.

In addition to these two reasons, one might add the fact that the Republican Party, which is supposed to provide the ideological alternative to the Democrats, has gone too far in “giving in” to the extreme Right, whether within the party establishment or the erstwhile ‘marginal’ extremist outsiders who have managed to infiltrate its organizations. These extremists — including ‘The Tea party’ group and ultra-fundamentalist Evangelists and White Supremacists — have penetrated the Republican Party structure, taken over most of its networks, and imposed their political agendas on it.

Today it is a fact that the Republican Party may be anything but the party of Abraham Lincoln. In fact, the mere term ‘Lincoln’s Party’, which Republicans love to parrot during their rallies and major events, is an insult to the great man who defended the Union and broke the back of slavery in the second half of the 19th century. If a proof is ever needed, one cannot go further than how ultra-fundamentalist Evangelist and racist votes in the ‘Old South’ states have turned these states into Republican strongholds, noting that the American Civil War (1860-1861) in which the Republican Lincoln defeated the Southern ‘Confederates’ had virtually eliminated his party’s presence there almost until the World War II. Indeed, the Party did not recover its presence in the South except when it became the vehicle of the ‘conservative’ Right facing the Left-bound Democrats towards… Liberalism.

On Nov. 8, American voters will elect a new president who won’t take office before the 20th of January 2017. It is quite likely that regardless of who wins, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will adopt policies different from those of Barack Obama.

Despite the obvious differences; if Clinton wins she’ll be the first woman-president and if Trump does he will be the first outsider who has never been elected to political office, the personalities of both candidates and political cultures – as divergent as they are – as well as their vision of America and its role in the world differ markedly from Obama’s personality, culture and vision. Clinton and Trump, for example, do not necessarily believe that America is an arrogant and aggressive Super Power that needs to apologize to its enemies and turn against its old allies.

Clinton and Trump are also less reliant on small cliques of ‘mafias’ of close advisers and associates, while more committed to broader party consensuses; Clinton with Congressional blocs and ‘Liberal’ lobbies, and Trump with business, industrial and conservative religious lobbies.

Having said this, it would be naïve to expect Hillary Clinton to dump Obama’s Middle East policies; however, one expects her to be less shackled by JCPOA with Iran, or to continue the ongoing collusion with Tehran against Washington’s traditional allies in the Arab World and West Asia. On the other hand, ‘President’ Trump, in spite of his controversial stances – including how he views Russia – is expected to adopt different approaches to Obama’s and his political ‘kitchen’ towards the Arab World, Middle East, Islam, terrorism, and America’s policies with its foes and what is left of its friends.

On November the 8th, a painful page for the Arab World but a good one to 55% of Americans will be turned in Washington, and although the decision is American and so is the main and direct interest, we – Arabs – are entitled to honestly tell the American voter that in foreign policy you harvest what you plant, and the bad seeds that President Obama has planted shall bear bad fruits in the future. It is then the judgement of history on his presidency and political legacy that will be more truthful and objective.

* Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

2 thoughts on “Obama’s Middle East: Fettering And Collusion – OpEd

  • October 28, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Another pundit getting it wrong about American policy and politics. Obama isn’t a non-interventionist- he’s fanned the flames of a new cold war with Russia through unprovoked hydra-headed hybrid war against Russia, and he must be held accountable for what has happened in Libya, Syria and the smoldering mess he’s exacerbated in Afghanistan and Iraq and dozens of other hotspots around the world. Nor has he fixed matters at home- the economy is hollowed out and fragile, employment figures are greatly understated, families are under stress. As for the Republicans no longer the party of Lincoln, that may be correct, but the fact of the matter is that both parties have merged and become the tools of our banking and multinational elites, and compromised our nation’s core interests in favor of special interests, domestic and foreign.

  • October 28, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I am very sure that the author knows the facts very well but has chosen to report issues that are totally wrong. The reason on his part is very obvious which is his source of living. President Obama has been one of the worst presidents that the USA has elected. His 55 percent approval rate is phony and fictitious. Statistics has been corrupted and manipulated for an obvious reason. Secretary Clinton is running on the same line President Obama has been using, and the Media has been supporting Mrs. Clinton and been telling the public just phony images about Hillary Clinton. If the Media attacks the phony presidency of Obama, then people will shift towards Mr. Trump. Therefore, the Media and its statistics show how president Obama is popular in order to provide intensive and extensive support to Hillary Clinton. As far as the reasons the author stated on President Obama’s 55 percent these reasons are wrong as well. The authors states: “mainly in the fields of healthcare, employment, economic upturn and improvement in living conditions after the pains suffered by ordinary Americans during the financial crisis…”. This is totally wrong. President Obama has inflated the health cost by using his Obamacare which has increased premium by more than 100 percent in some states, an increase associated with higher deductible and lower health services. The low unemployment rate is fictitious and in fact more than 100 million Americans have no jobs and those with jobs receive low wages and small raises annually with the exception of the top dogs. In addition, there is no up-turn in the economy because all data indicate economic stagnation and lower economic growth of less than three percent during his presidency. His economic upturn has helped just the financiers and the wealthy people. The large segment of the working Americans has received nothing. Under president Obama the financiers received the largest bailout on the top of the $4.5 trillion by the Fed through the QE monetary policy. The second reason the author has provided is about foreign involvement, but the truth is exactly the opposite. President Obama has been running colonial policy aiming at destroying the Middle East. He has destroyed Libya and killed more than quarter million people and has destroyed Syria killing another quarter million and half people. He has destroyed Yemen with massive killing and destabilized Iraq and Somalia. He has increased the troop level in Afghanistan for looting opium and other natural resources for the computer industry. He also has been destabilizing the entire world and has been threatening Russia and China. He has established a line or army around Russia, which may result in more killing for those small countries. Moreover, he has been supporting terrorism in the Middle East for Israel dominance. His drone’s killing has been massive in number and thousands of innocent people have been killed. President Obama has rejected to mention Radical Islam because he has been using Muslim terrorists Al-Qaeda to kill more Arabs in Syria and has been protecting Daesh and arming the terrorist organization with American weapons by mistake! That is to say, President Obama has been more extremist than others. He has been following a neoconservative foreign policy which aims at destroying the and dividing the Arabs world. Moreover, President Obama has pillaged the Arab wealth by selling weapons in billions and now has found a new way for pillaging way of Arab wealth through legality about September 11. Finally, I cannot go further in criticizing this article, but I would like to state that a pundit should have integrity in writing about others, which the author lacks.


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