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How to understand Obama’s policies

Obama used economic and political sanctions as a weapon, restricting Iran’s economy

Hassan Al Mustafa

Published: Updated:

US President Barack Obama’s visit to Riyadh coincided with several events in the region, among them ongoing negotiations between Yemeni parties in Kuwait, increased tension between Iran and Arab Gulf states, and extremist groups exploiting central governments’ weaknesses to gain influence and spread turmoil.

These events were at the heart of talks between Gulf leaders and Obama, who disagree on several issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and Tehran’s regional role. He sees the deal as a means to curb Iranian influence, push Tehran toward moderation, return it to the international community, restore peace and stability, and include it in the war on terror.

To this end, Obama used economic and political sanctions as a weapon, restricting Iran’s economy and thereby forcing it to sign the nuclear deal. This would benefit its citizens, especially those who uphold the principles of tolerance and liberalism, and long to modernize their way of living away from ideologies and religion.

Washington only partially lifted sanctions. It maintains some over the development of ballistic missiles, considered by Washington as a way to support terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Obama has a vision, and it is important for Saudi Arabia to understand it if we want to protect our interests and national security

Hassan Al-Mustafa

Washington maintains a tepid position toward Iran, based on socioeconomic and security interests. In this scope, the United States sees common ground with Iran on which it can build to find solutions to other issues.

Misunderstood

Obama has resorted to all available options to implement his pragmatic policy toward Iran, except military power. The latter would be the last option for him. Accordingly, and contrary to what others think, Obama seeks to realize the interests and national security of his country, but not to defend Iran.

He has never been reluctant, ignorant or incapable, as many think. He has a vision, and it is important for Saudi Arabia to understand it if we want to protect our interests and national security.

Therefore, differences between Washington and Riyadh over the nuclear deal and other regional issues must not be a source of provocation for us, but rather prompt us to adopt wise, effective and long-term policies that focus on establishing a regional security network that promotes consensus and consolidates economic and developmental systems for the coming decades. Saudi Arabia is capable of achieving that.

This article was first published on Al Riyadh on April 22, 2016.
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Hassan Al Mustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in Middle East and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.