Obama’s doctrine: Half-friends?

Obama considered the nuclear agreement he sealed with Tehran as a historical achievement...

Turki Aldakhil

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Notwithstanding his administration and his advisors, US President Barack Obama has not been convinced of real cooperation between the US and Gulf countries. From day one, he wanted a rapprochement with Iran. He had warmed up to the idea and was fascinated by it to the extent of addiction.

Obama considered the nuclear agreement which he sealed with Tehran as a historical achievement which will top the achievements of his presidential era. What’s certain is that although his era achieved some economic success, it did not achieve any political success.

Obama’s era marked miserable failures in the region, withdrawal from all of the US influential posts besides leaving the arena for terrorists from al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah and Iran’s proxies.

Obama’s recent interview with The Atlantic gave a glimpse of his political doctrine. The interview was clear and frank and exposed his real mindset during the two presidential terms, and which led the US to its lowest levels of popularity. The US failed on the Syrian front, Arab revolutions and almost on all political matters.

In The Atlantic interview, Obama said the Gulf region should be seen differently from Iran. He also implied that Saudi Arabia is among “free rider” countries who put many conditions. Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal responded to these comments with information that refutes Obama’s claims. He said that Saudi Arabia is not a “free rider” as it has efficiently contributed toward resolving the region’s crises and is the partner of major countries in terms of fighting terrorism.

Since the US-Gulf Camp David meeting, Gulf countries, primarily Saudi Arabia, have depended on themselves, fighting wars on their own and using their own diplomatic channels

Turki Al-Dakhil

It has also contributed to curbing the negative repercussions of Arab revolutions, spent billions of dollars from its budget to help the needy in Afghanistan for three decades and extinguished the flames of wars in several regions across the world.
“We offered boots on the ground to make that coalition more effective in eliminating the terrorists,” Turki al-Faisal wrote.

“We initiated the support – military, political and humanitarian – that is helping the Yemeni people reclaim their country from the murderous militia, the Houthis, who, with the support of the Iranian leadership, tried to occupy Yemen; without calling for American forces,” the prince said.

“We established a coalition of more than thirty Muslim countries to fight all shades of terrorism in the world. We are the biggest contributors to the humanitarian relief efforts to help refugees from Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Your secretaries of state and defense have often publicly praised the level of cooperation between our two countries. Your treasury department officials have publicly praised Saudi Arabia’s measures to curtail any financing that might reach terrorists,” he added.

'Thoughts on Obama doctrine'

Commenting on Obama’s interview with The Atlantic, Daniel W. Drezner, a commentator in the Washington Post, wrote an op-ed entitled “Five thoughts on Obama Doctrine,” and summarized what surprised him most in the interview, and which are simply the following: “Obama does not respect America’s foreign policy community. Obama respects Arab Middle East leaders even less. There’s a little bit of Donald Trump in Barack Obama. Obama’s biggest foreign policy failure has been domestic in nature. The United States has clearly been a force for good in the world.”

Obama bragged that he backed down on attacking the Assad regime and also spoke about the importance of stopping that “political doctrine in the US State Department” that’s based on defending Saudi Arabia. He also considered that his war fleets only mobilize to suppress terrorism or defend Israel against any possible nuclear attack.

Obama wants to turn his back to historical relations with all their economic and political dimensions. Everyone noticed that ever since the US-Gulf Camp David meeting, Gulf countries, primarily Saudi Arabia, have depended on themselves, fighting wars on their own and used their own diplomatic channels, establishing alliances and deterring opponents.

The present US situation may be good for us as we’d continue to balance our political and security crises to protect our borders and our people’s well-being. Betting on the Eisenhower Doctrine which defends Saudi Arabia makes us more negligent.

The US “withdrawal” from this region, and its subsequent denial, is not the end of the world but actually the right beginning for Gulf countries to depend on themselves and distinguish between true friends and half-friends!

This article was first published by al-Bayan on Apr. 13, 2016.
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

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