Danger of Obama’s last days as President

Obama’s penchant for “virtual” ceasefires should be seen in the context of his keenness for quick achievements, writes Mshari Al Thaydi

Mashari Althaydi
Mashari Althaydi
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The “virtual” truce in Yemen and Syria collapsed on Saturday. I call it “virtual” because it appeared to be some sort of an attempt by the Americans to delude themselves about their global responsibility to achieve peace and protect civilians.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who appears submissive to American pressure, insisted on the 72-hour ceasefire even though there weren’t any reasons for it to last and there wasn’t any way it could have been imposed. Therefore, when Ould Cheikh demanded extension of the ceasefire, Yemeni foreign minister Abdulmalik Abduljalil al-Mekhlafi responded, rightly so, saying that the truce did not even begin.

Meanwhile, in Aleppo the Russians unilaterally declared a ceasefire for three days. They may have done that to perform media and political maneuvers or to pressurize the western. However, their jets and forces continued to shell Aleppo as if the truce was some sort of a hidden camera show.

Obama’s penchant for “virtual” ceasefires should be seen within the context of his keenness to make quick achievements. Obama’s definition of achievements at the foreign policy level seems all about protecting American national security and serving the Democrat presidential candidate. It also seems like a farewell message by Obama, at the expense of Arab interests, in which he seems determined to prove that he is the president who defeated ISIS.

Obama’s definition of achievements at the foreign policy level seems all about protecting American national security and serving the Democrat presidential candidate

Mshari al-Thaydi

Defeating ISIS

The sole objective being talked about behind the ongoing battle in Mosul is to “only” to defeat ISIS. The Washington Post reported that Obama hopes to see Mosul liberated before his term ends. The daily advised Obama’s successor to avoid the past mistake in Iraq in the form of “a premature and self-defeating withdrawal”. The term “self-defeating withdrawal” in indeed interesting.

In Syria, analysts have expressed concern over Obama’s “strategic patience”. Europeans think it is a must to engage in Syria and to not leave it to the Russians and Americans.

In an op-ed published earlier in October, former EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana wrote: “President Barack Obama has only a short time left in office, which makes any major foreign-policy shift under his administration almost impossible. As the battle for Aleppo rages on, so, too, does the US presidential election campaign that will determine his successor.”

We are dealing with a president who seems to have dangerous perceptions about security and the nature of alliances and enemies in the world. Before his term ends, he wants to implement his ideas in a way that his successor may not be able to break free.

He wants, or so he imagines, to extend his honorable shadow over the Middle East after he leaves the White House.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 24, 2016.
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Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

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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