Syria between Obama and Trump

It has been clear since the second year of the Syrian revolution that Syria has turned into an international battlefield where armed militias fight to serve the interests of international powers, or to be more accurate, the revolution transformed into a project to destroy the Syrian state.

Russia’s messages were clear when it said that it will not give up its only foothold in this turbulent region. China’s position was completely similar to Russia’s and this might have been the case either because it wants to serve its own interests or to spite the Americans especially that Russian President Vladimir Putin was taken by surprise in Libya.

This is in addition to Putin’s eternal dream of restoring the past glory of the Russian empire. A hesitant American president empowered Putin and made him braver. It goes without saying that that there was no chemistry whatsoever between the leaders of the two major powers.

Four years ago, President Barack Obama had the chance to intervene in Syria after the Assad regime used chemical weapons to kill innocent people. Back then, the world felt that the US will end the crisis which was unprecedented given its brutality, due to acts committed by the regime and terrorist militias.

However, Obama backed down from his red lines in the last minute after he was convinced that the Syrian regime gave up its internationally-prohibited arms. If a hesitant Obama was serious about intervening, he would have intervened regardless of everything especially that Syria has become an arena for the most notorious terrorist organizations, like ISIS and Hezbollah, and it has become a hotbed for all forms of Iranian intervention.

Obama’s weak stance, which upset America’s allies across the world especially in the Middle East, made Iran and Russia feel that they are before a weak and hesitant American command. As a result, they doubled their intervention in Syrian affairs to the extent that the presence of Iran’s generals on Syrian territory became common.

A hesitant American president empowered Putin and made him braver. It goes without saying that that there was no chemistry whatsoever between the leaders of the two major powers

Ahmad al-Farraj

A strategic plan?

Obama was a hands-on president who followed up on every single detail. Yet, his retreat from intervening in Syria was not a result of a strategic plan and did not aim to serve a larger American interest. Obama knew that it is important for a superpower, like the US, to intervene when necessary in order to restore balance and security to the world.

Is there a bigger necessity than intervening to fight a butcher who is killing his own people using prohibited weapons? However, Obama’s calculations were purely personal. His intervention in Syria would have angered Iran and he could not bear that as Iran was his only way of attaining personal glory. His record did not bear any achievement that history will document.

There was only the nuclear agreement, which he achieved via the friend of Iran’s mullahs and his Secretary of State John Kerry. They succeeded in recording a historical achievement for Obama at the expense of America’s prestige, its historical allies and the blood of the innocent in Syria.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Dr Ahmad al-Farraj is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah daily. He holds a Masters degree in literature from the University of Indiana and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He was the Dean of the Arabic Language Institute in King Saud University and a member of the university’s council. He tweets under @amhfarraj.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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