Obama and the ME: No We Can't

While SOS Hillary Clinton is visiting the ME, displaying displeasure toward the expansion of Israeli settelments in the West Bank and mingling with Syrian Foreign Affairs minister, the Obama ME policy is starting to unravel slowly: Condemn but do not act against Israel, Ignore the Palestinians, divide the rest, and keep pressure on Iran.

I was surprised to learn that the first thing on Obama's agenda was to lure the Russians into a deal against Iran. Iran has been Israel's only priority since the destruction of Iraq and the weakening of the Palestinian authority. However, every sane person recognizes that the first priority in the ME are the Palestinians, a stateless people who were robbed of their land and their dignity by Israeli Zionists and other Zionists worldwide. The man who did not dare to speak about Israeli atrocities against Gaza, nor speak a word of sympathy for the Palestinians who were being killed like flies by the Israeli army last December, is now adopting Israel's priority for the region: mounting an alliance against Iran's nuclear capacity in order to eliminate the last perceived threat to Israel's hegemony in the ME. I say 'perceived' because Iran is not a real threat to Israel. However, Iran being the last and only power in the ME opposing Israel and left undestructed by Israel and the US, despite the US attempt at it through Saddam and his golden years of collaboration with the US. And in this regard, Iran is considered a 'threat' to Israel because it challenges Israel's hegemony, total control, and neocolonial attitude in the region.

Ignoring the Palestinians has been for such a long time Israel's and the US central point of their ME policy and still, even after the latest Israeli criminal acts in Gaza. Indeed, as long as a unity Palestinian government is not encouraged by the US and diplomatic contacts restricted only to the ailing Palestinian authority, dismissing Hamas, and as long as the US declarations of displeasure about Israeli settlements are not followed or accompanied by real actions and sanctions against Israel, there is neither a road for a Palestinian state, nor peace and justice for Palestinians. Palestinians are tired of rethoric, they are waiting for real acts.

Although talking to Syria may appear as relaunching the Israeli-Arab peace process, it will not affect the central problem in the ME which is the justice and peace that Palestinians have been waiting for. On the contrary, it will affect negatively the Palestinians, giving a false impression of peace diplomacy while Palestinians are being slaughtered. We all know that peace with Egypt and Jordan did not produce any positive effects for the Palestinians. And I doubt that the US and Israel's intentions in discussing peace with Syria are genuine. Israel endorsed happily the whole concept fo the War On Terror in order to delay indefinitely any prospect of having to return to peace negotiations requiring the return of some land to Syria and Palestine, therefore it will never give up again any land taken during the 1967 war and by its settling activities. Why it should ? It is not being pressured to do so in any way by the US and the international community. On the contrary, and time again, it is the US who is pressured to act in certain ways in the ME by Israel.

I don't expect from Obama and his administration any meaningful development for the central problems that have been destructing the ME and slowly desintegrationg its social and political future for more than sixty years now: Israel's illegal land grabbing, criminal wars, and bullying against the Palestinians and its neighbours in the region. The slogan of the Obama campaign is simply not applicable to the ME as long as the US is keeping silent on Israel's nuclear arsenal and regional ambitions, and as long as it is not willing to shape its own policy and be respected in the region.

Iran is on Clinton's agenda, if not her intinerary.

Related: Obama and the Persian treasures in Chicago

Iranian ambassador to the UN: 'Obama, quit talking like Bush' (Thanks Naj)

There is also this excellent analysis, dated January 21st 09, by Gary Sick in the National Interest, on Obama's Iran and ME dilemma. Given what Mr. Sick has envisioned in his analysis, Obama's first moves in the ME are, at best, still uncertain, at worst, in line with the previous administration
Not Our Top Priority
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Iran is neither the most dangerous nor the most pressing problem to be faced by the new U.S. administration in the Persian Gulf region. The Afghanistan-Pakistan nexus, comprised of two weak or failing states with potential access to a stockpile of nuclear weapons, is clearly the most urgent and the highest risk to U.S. core interests. Iraq is a delicate and urgent problem, which will occupy much of the early attention of the new administration as Washington and Baghdad choreograph a responsible exit strategy. Nevertheless, the decisions the Obama administration makes about Iran in its first few months will have a significant effect on our other commitments.
Update: From Europe, where she met NATO members on March 5th, Hillary Clinton invited Iran to participate in the Afghanistan conference the US will be convening. Nothing new. The US did the same when it faced a mounting insurgency in Iraq, they invited Iran, only to blame it afterward for aiding the insurgency. I don't see why they are inviting Iran now that they are in this mess in Afghanistan. With Iraq and Afghanistan, they created the tense climate that is now behind Iran's alleged desire to acquire nuclear weapons.


Naj said...

They are not incorrect in their strategic thinking. Iran being the last power, is also the only one that gives a voice to the Palestinian cause.

To "tame" Iran will get them what they want: submission of Palestine!

Iran will not attack Israel with nukes or non-nukes. Iran will not act to defend Palestine either. But Iran can lend them support. And this is what they are trying to take away from the resistance against Israel.

Of course, let's keep in mind that this anti-Iran stance is helping the Iranian conservatives; and will perhaps help Ahmadinejad get re-elected; thus curtailing possibility of more liberal government in Iran, which will perhaps be exposing the collusion in which Iranian/Israeli and american conservatives have been operating in!

Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

Obama will live to rue the day he appointed Hillary Clinton Secretary of State. In fact, he may be already doing so.

Naj said...

Sophia this is interesting!

Elizabeth: you are so right about Clinton!

Sophia said...


Thanks for the link. I still prefer Gary Sick's analysis which is linked to at the end of my post. The author you mentioned might be well versed in arts, history and culture but there is no serious political analysis in his article.
The author seems to assume that because Turkey is no more an empire, modern Iran is playing this role...

One cannot compare modern Iran to imperial Turkey. And on the contrary I think Iran's role in the extended Arab world is very recent. Turkey still play a lead role between the Arab world and the west because of its colonial past.

One thing might be true though is that there is a surge for Shia role in the Arab world and Iran is profiting from this, but people seem to forget that the leaders of the ruling syrian Baath party for the last 30 years or more come from a kind of shia sect in Syria, the Alaouite, and that Turkey has a substantial shia community.

Sophia said...


Obama is following Lincoln's example by setting up an adminstration of dissenting voices and opinions. This may work for the economy, civil rights, and other internal matters but it won't work for foreign policy. especially in the ME where the issue is already complicated by years of US inaction and negligence. Foreign policy needs a clear direction, and Obama was elected mainly on a foreign policy agenda promising to break away from the Bush years...

Sophia said...

What I mean by my previous comment is that Iran is a regional power on its own, it does not need this role of ex imperial turkey or it does not need to base its power on any influence it may exert on any Arab country. Most people who think that Iran has become a power because hezbollah or Hamas or palestine or anything else are mistaken.

Since March 29th 2006