“Obama Lacks the Credibility to Sell Used Cars, Much Less Lead an ‘Anti-Terror’ Coalition”

COMMENT

“Barack Obama has spent the last six years throwing America’s allies under the bus and weaseling out of “red lines”. It is no surprise that governments in the Middle East are reluctant to join an “anti-terror” coalition lead by a man they wouldn’t buy a used car from.”

by Aboud Dandachi

Aboud DandachiBarack Obama is a man who desperately wishes that foreign-policy wasn’t part of the job description that comes with being President of the United States. After six years of trying to “pivot” away from the Middle East, Obama is discovering that just because one doesn’t have an interest in the Middle East, is no immunity from the Middle East biting one in the ass.

With the terror group ISIS rampaging over much of the Levant and executing Western hostages, Obama has found himself forced to commit America to going to war again in the region. A broad regional coalition of (mainly) Sunni states is, according to Obama’s thinking, an essential ingredient to legitimizing America’s latest military foray in a region Obama would dearly love to be rid of.

Alas, Obama’s efforts at coalition-building have so far proven a dismal failure, with no country yet willing to openly commit to joining the USA in any military action against ISIS. But the reluctance of Middle Eastern governments to join an “anti-ISIS” coalition is not due to any imagined sympathies towards the group.

Simply put, countries in the region are understandably reluctant to commit themselves to a man who has himself not kept a single commitment to any of America’s allies. From Ukraine, to Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf, America’s friends and opponents have noted what little value the Obama administration’s “commitments” are actually worth.

After six years of weaselling out of “red lines”, throwing Lebanese and Ukrainian allies under the bus, treating Turkey and Israel with open disdain, and going behind the Gulf’s back to sign an appeasement with the Iranian Ayatollocracy, the scale of which outdid even Chamberlain’s Munich agreement with Adolph Hitler, Obama comes as a supplicant to the Middle East; a supplicant with not even the credibility of a used-car salesman.

Join an Obama-led “anti-terror” coalition? Speaking as a Syrian refugee, I tend to regard Barack Obama as one would regard a neighbor who never lent much more than a glass of water while my house burned, but now expects me to join his vigilante neighborhood gang because someone broke his windows.

Six years into his administration, Obama is learning that there is a price to be paid for screwing over America’s allies and breaking commitments. And it doesn’t help matters when Obama confides to the American press that he foresees the ISIS problem as being one “for the next president, and probably the one after that.”

The “next president”. Obama may very well prefer to coast through the rest of his presidency, and eventually enjoy the post-presidential bounties of big fat speaking fees and appearances. But those of us who actually live in the region aren’t so lucky, and Obama is going to have to display an unprecedented level of commitment if he wants his “anti-ISIS” coalition to amount to more than himself and some Iranian Shia proxy militias, most of whom have proven to be as bad as ISIS.

No American boots on the ground? That may sound good politically, but it’s a policy that flies in the face of any serious military strategy that has a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating ISIS.

ISIS will not be defeated by airstrikes alone, someone’s boots are going to have to go toe to toe with the Jihadis. What kind of an imbecile telegraphs their own pain-thresholds to an adversary well before a battle. All it does is raise doubts about one’s resolve in the minds of both one’s opponents, and potential allies (good luck Obama, on getting any Turkish or Arab “boots on the ground” after displaying your reluctance to put your “boots” where your mouth is).

Obama’s dismal failure in putting together a reliable “anti-terror” coalition stands in marked contrast to the success of George Bush Senior, who prior to Desert Storm managed to create an impressive regional and international alliance to expel Saddam from Kuwait. In 1990, America’s allies knew what they were signing up for when they got behind a US-led coalition.

Obama is no George Bush Senior. In 1990, Bush managed to build an impressive regional and international coalition against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Before a single bullet was fired in Desert Storm, Saddam was completely isolated politically. While the military contributions of many countries in Desert Storm would eventually prove peripheral, the political legitimacy they afforded to the campaign was invaluable.

So why did George Bush Senior succeed where Barack Obama has so far failed? By any measure, Obama’s task should have proven the easier of the two. While Saddam initially had some international support, ISIS has none. The Iraqi military at the time was the world’s largest, a far tougher nut to crack than ISIS could ever dream of becoming.

No, in the end, the success or failure of coalition building depends as much on the attributes and perceived reliability of those who would lead such a coalition, as it does on the potential target or goals of said coalition. In 1990, America’s resolve, objectives and commitment were unquestioned. American boots were the first to go into battle. America’s allies knew what they were signing up for when they got behind the USA. America’s allies trusted America’s president.

A stark contrast to the fuzzy, muddled approach of America’s current president. It is difficult to have confidence in a man whose own self-confidence is so lacking, his best hope of fixing the greatest threat of this decade is to leave it to be solved by “the next president, and probably the one after that.”

The above article originally appeared on Mr. Dandachi’s website.

Aboud Dandachi is an activist from the Syrian city of Homs, currently residing in Istanbul. He has been cited on issues relating to the Syrian conflict in the BBC, NPR, LA Times, the Guardian, Al-Arabiya and Turkiye Gazetesi. Aboud’s articles have been republished on numerous media outlets including Daily Sabah, Elder of Ziyon, EA Worldview, Frontpage Mag, and jewishinfoNews.  Aboud can be followed on Twitter @AboudDandachi

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama visits Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, Sept. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER - "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" | "The more things change, the more they stay the same"

SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

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Egyptians Hoping Israel Will Destroy Hamas

“Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas.” –  Azza Sami of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram

The following article was originally published by Gatestone Institute.

by  Khaled Abu Toameh

Over the past week there are voices coming out of Egypt and some Arab countries — voices that publicly support the Israeli military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

They see the atrocities and massacres committed by Islamists on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria and are beginning to ask themselves if these serve the interests of the Arabs and Muslims.

“Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!” — Azza Sami of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.

Isolated and under attack, Hamas now realizes that it has lost the sympathy of many Egyptians and Arabs.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has thus far turned down appeals from Palestinians and other Arabs to work toward achieving a new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Sisi and urged him to intervene to achieve an “immediate ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas. Abbas later admitted that his appeal to Sisi and (other Arab leaders) had fallen on deaf ears.

Sisi’s decision not to intervene in the current crisis did not come as a surprise. In fact, Sisi and many Egyptians seem to be delighted that Hamas is being badly hurt.

Some Egyptians are even openly expressing hope that Israel will completely destroy Hamas, which they regard as the “armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization.”

Sisi’s Egypt has not forgiven Hamas for its alliance with Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement in terrorist attacks against Egyptian civilians and soldiers over the past year.

An uncomfortable moment during an April 2014 meeting between PA President Abbas and Egyptian President Sisi. (Image source: Video from President Abbas' Office)

An uncomfortable moment during an April 2014 meeting between PA President Abbas and Egyptian President Sisi. (Image source: Video from President Abbas’ Office)

The Egyptians today understand that Hamas and other radical Islamist groups pose a serious threat to their national security. That is why the Egyptian authorities have, over the past year, been taking tough security measures not only against Hamas, but also the entire population of the Gaza Strip.

These measures include the destruction of dozens of smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.

True, there are still many Egyptians and Arabs who sympathize with Hamas, mainly because it is being targeted by Israel. But over the past week, there are also different voices coming out of Egypt and some other Arab countries — voices that publicly support the Israeli military operation against the Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip.

This is perhaps because a growing number of Arabs and Muslims are fed up with the Islamist terrorists who are imposing a reign of terror and intimidation in the Arab world, particularly in Iraq and Syria. They see the atrocities and massacres committed by Islamists on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria and are beginning to ask themselves if these serve the interests of the Arabs and Muslims.

Sisi and other Arab leaders are now sitting on the fence and hoping that this time Israel will complete the job and get rid of Hamas once and for all. Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah are certainly not going to shed a tear if Hamas is crushed and removed from power in the Gaza Strip.

The reaction of some Egyptians to the Israeli military operation has shocked Hamas and other Palestinians. As one Hamas spokesman noted: “It’s disgraceful to see that some Egyptians are publicly supporting the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip while Westerners are expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and condemning Israel.”

Addressing the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian actor Amr Mustafa said that they should not expect any help from the Egyptians. “You must get rid of Hamas and we will help you,” he said. He also called on Hamas to stop meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries. “Pull your men out of Egypt, Syria and Libya,” Mustafa demanded. “In Egypt, we are today fighting poverty that was caused by wars. We have enough of our own problems. Don’t expect the Egyptians to give more than what they have already given. We’ve had enough of what you did to our country.”

In response to Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi’s decision to dispatch 500 tons of food and medical aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian newspaper El-Bashayer remarked: “The standard of living for a Gazan citizen is much higher than that of an Egyptian citizen. The poor in Egypt are more in need than the poor in the Gaza Strip. Let Qatar spend as much as it wants on the Gaza Strip. We should not send anything that Egyptians are in need of.”

Famous Egyptian TV presenter and journalist Amr Adeeb has been told by many Egyptians to “shut up” after his criticism of Sisi’s “silence” toward the war in the Gaza Strip.

One Egyptian reminded Adeeb that “Hamas is responsible for the killing of Egyptian soldiers.”

Egyptian ex-general Hamdi Bakhit was quoted as expressing hope that Israel would re-occupy the Gaza Strip. “This would be better than the Hamas rule,” he said.

Egyptian TV presenter Amany al-Khayat launched a scathing attack on Hamas.

She pointed out that Hamas agreed to the reconciliation pact with Fatah only in order to get salaries for its employees in the Gaza Strip.

Al-Khayat said that Hamas was seeking to depict itself as a victim of an Israeli attack only in order to get the Egyptian authorities to reopen the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip. “They just want us to open the Rafah border crossing,” she said on her show. “Hamas is prepared to make all the residents of the Gaza Strip pay a heavy price in order to rid itself of its crisis. We must not forget that Hamas is the armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist movement.”

Her colleague, Azza Sami of the newspaper Al-Ahram, went as far as thanking Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for ordering the attack on Hamas. “Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas,” she wrote.

What is also remarkable is Egyptian criticism of Hamas for launching rockets at the nuclear facility in Dimona in southern Israel. Ahmed Qandeel, head of the Energy Studies Program at the Al-Ahram Strategic Studies think-tank, denounced the targeting of Dimona as “idiotic.” He warned that this would have a negative impact on the entire region and endanger the lives of many Egyptians and Arabs. “Egypt must take precautionary measures,” he advised.

In response, an Egyptian wrote: “May God make the State of Israel victorious in its war against the terrorist movement Hamas during this holy month of Ramadan.”

Echoing the widespread sentiment among Egyptians, journalist Mustafa Shardi said: “No Arab country has done for the Palestinians as Egypt did. Why doesn’t Hamas go to (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan? Where is Erdogan when you need him? Why is he silent? If he opens his mouth they (Israel and the US) will hit him with a shoe. The Egyptian people are asking: Where are our people who were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip? Hamas should apologize for the 1000 tunnels that were used to smuggle the resources of Egypt. They all have their own planes and accounts in Swiss banks.”

Isolated and under attack, Hamas now realizes that it has lost the sympathy of many Egyptians and Arabs. Some Hamas leaders are now talking about the “betrayal” and “collusion” of their Arab brethren, especially Egypt.

When the Egyptian authorities reluctantly and briefly re-opened the Rafah border crossing a few days ago, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum rushed to declare: “The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing only to receive bodies. Egypt is imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip and has destroyed the tunnels.”

Former Palestinian Authority security commander Mohamed Dahlan predicted that the Egyptians will not do anything to save Hamas. “Egypt won’t intervene to stop the war on the Gaza Strip because Hamas was conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood against Egypt,” he said. “Hamas was working with Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian army.”

Hamas is paying a heavy price for meddling in the internal affairs of Egypt and some other Arab countries. But the Palestinians living under Hamas in the Gaza Strip are paying a heavier price, largely due to their failure to rise up against the Islamist movement and demand the right to live better lives.

(Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.  He studied at Hebrew University and began his career as a reporter by working for a PLO-affiliated newspaper in Jerusalem.  Abu Toameh currently works for the international media, serving as the ‘eyes and ears’ of foreign journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abu Toameh’s articles have appeared in numerous newspapers around the world, including The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report and The Sunday Times of London.)

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