News from the Arab Press

The fallacies of Obama’s presidency

By Linda Gradstein | The Media Line

July 11, 2017

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Al-Ithiad, UAE, July 4

Obama and his national security advisers used to subscribe to the belief that the Islamic State is a long-term problem destined to last for several decades. America’s foreign policy, accordingly, was designed to confront the organization slowly, over the span of several decades. This proved to be a complete miscalculation of ISIS’s true power. It is surprising to think that even America, with its mighty intelligence capabilities, was wrong in understanding the Islamic State. And yet, these American failures are hardly new. America’s war in Afghanistan and Iraq proved to be extremely inefficient in countering Islamist terrorists. In fact, the presence of US forces on the ground seemed to have resulted in the opposite effect of increased radicalization among Arab youth. We also must not forget the recent Russian hacking of the presidential elections, against which US intelligence agencies failed to provide a warning, let alone to act. The sad truth is that Obama’s time in office left a weak America abroad. To make things worse, it also left America’s allies weak. Today, the Russians and the Iranians are stronger than they’ve ever been, while moderate Arab states are suffering from lack of legitimacy in the eyes of the public. What is the strategy moving forward from here? And what can America, now under Trump’s leadership, even do? Unfortunately, not much. Iraq, where US forces maintained an on-ground presence to restore stability — where a constitution, a government, and an independent judiciary have been set up, and where open elections take place — has not shown must reason for optimism. Prospects for rehabilitation are even slimmer in the case of Syria, which has been completely destroyed by years of fighting. Even a successful American policy to rehabilitate Syria is thus doomed to begin with. Meanwhile, Iran, Hizbullah, and Russia continue to extend their reach into the region, weakening and destabilizing the Arab regimes that stumble their way. – Radwan Al-Sayyed

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