In Tehran, Damascus and the southern suburbs where the Hezbollah headquarters in the south of Beirut are located, it is said that the victory of Barack Obama as the president of the United States for a second term was celebrated by the locals. Perhaps they rejoiced for the defeat of the Republican opponent, thus wiping out the Republican Party. Does his winning symbolize a setback for those of us who stand by the Syrian people and reject the policy of the Iranian monster?
Personally, I don’t think this is the case at all. I think that Obama, “the dove”, will be the one to destroy the Assad regime during his second term and put an end to the threat of the Iranian regime. Those who know the mechanisms of the American system realize the extent of the president’s influence in his second term. These are four more years in which he is stronger and freer in decision-making.
We should not forget that while he was building a positive relationship with Arabs and Muslims four years ago, Obama headed a manhunt for Osama Bin Laden until the latter was killed. As this went on, he withdrew his troops from Iraq and slapped the most severe sanctions against the regime of the supreme leader in Tehran, causing a near-collapse of the Iranian economy.
Therefore, those who think that they can defy Obama should think twice because the apparently light-handed man has achieved more victories in the Middle East than his predecessor George W. Bush. In fact, Obama restored relations with Arabs and Muslims after they had been at an all-time low for half a century and succeeded in enhancing them.
Even when Bin Laden was killed, we didn’t witness any demonstrations in the Arab streets. They believed and were convinced that Obama had good intentions and that al-Qaeda were the bad guys. During his initial four years in office, he suffocated Iran economically and politically even more than during the conflict with the Americans in the early eighties.
Although Obama is accused of failure concerning the revolution of the Syrian people — the biggest and the most important of the Arab Spring movement — we still have to wait and see what he is going to do after his re-election.
We are still unaware how far he is willing to intervene in the Syrian crisis. Personally, I think that Obama will adopt a more aggressive policy and include his name as a partner in the overthrow of the last bad Arab dictator.
However, we must be aware that it is an issue which may become very complicated. Obama may thus prefer to play a behind-the-scene role in overthrowing the Assad regime and leave the leadership role for the Arab states.
It’s not just a matter of guesswork when we say that the Assad regime will collapse even without US intervention, but it is difficult to foresee the repercussions. At that point, the role of America will become crucial.
In addition, we don’t want to generalize, exaggerate and attach too many expectations on Obama’s actions in Arab affairs because he will not have the necessary capabilities, or maybe he just doesn’t want to interfere in the Arab revolutions and regional conflicts.
The constant factor in American policy and in the attitudes of any new president is not to neglect the issue of vital oil areas in the world. This issue will have its implications on the relations of his country with Iraq, Gulf States and Iran.
(Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in Arab News on Nov. 9, 2012)