The Arab region, under the former US administration, witnessed an unprecedented situation that was not witnessed even on the eve of June 5, 1967 —chaos, market collapse, political conflicts and conspiracies. If the administration of President Barack Obama or his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were not the cause for igniting troubles in the Arab region, at least their policies contributed to the spread of the chaos the human and materialistic losses of which are still difficult to estimate. It would take decades for the region to overcome this disaster, that is if we assume that it has begun to recover today, though this is in general inaccurate.
The Obama administration destroyed the Syrians’ dreams as it claimed there were red lines in its policies regarding the Syrian regime’s crimes, but it failed to act when these “lines” were violated. Russia, which ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union had been dreaming of having bases in the region, now has ground and sea bases on the Mediterranean in the most strategic locations, and it has done so right under the sight of Obama and his team.
A different President came to the White House, different than Obama, with a unique, powerful and firm personality. Although he himself acknowledges that direct spontaneous expressions sometimes betray him, he’s definitely the man for this phaseAmal Abdulaziz Al-Hazani
Obama empowering Iran
The Iranians, who pose the more difficult problem, expanded like cancer along with the armed organizations al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Practically, Obama left the White House after teaching the world a lesson on how to carry out mass destruction without weapons!
Obama left after making Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif happy, with the signing of a nuclear agreement that was in nobody’s interest except Barack Obama’s biography. He left after Bashar Al-Assad started to move to his resort in Latakia with no fear, and after al-Nusra front and ISIS expanded to Iraqi governorates.
We were fortunate that some of the 2011 developments had boomeranged on their planners, but they cost a lot of people their lives and caused plenty of instability. It was not that some regime’s fell, but certain states collapsed with them, such as Libya and Syria with all their institutions and infrastructure. In other cases, the ruling regime fell and the state remained under the threat of collapse for a long time, as was the case with Egypt.
A different President came to the White House, different than Obama, with a unique, powerful and firm personality. Although he himself acknowledges that direct spontaneous expressions sometimes betray him, he’s definitely the man for this phase. In terms of his foreign policy which concerns us, Trump arrived at a critical time yet an appropriate one to attempt to improve the reputation of the US foreign policy, which was known as powerful with clear goals, after it was characterized by false promises and vacillations.
It is good that the new US administration is aware of the evil axes in the region, and it’s even better that it has taken action against them. Awareness of the sources of danger led President Trump to withdraw from the shameful nuclear agreement, as he describes it, and to put organizations like Hezbollah on the terror list. He even disagreed with his European friends over imposition of tough sanctions against Iran.
What President Trump is doing is an important part of the political system that defends peace in the world but it is important to highlight that Iran does not work alone. It does not only have tools like the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization, Bashar Assad’s dictatorial regime and the Yemeni Houthis but it also receives political and logistical support by some countries in the region.
It is hoped that President Trump will open both his eyes. Iran alone would not be able to tamper with the region with no support or tools. Trump’s anger that was directed to Tehran should also be directed at the parties, organizations and supporting and sponsoring countries, with no hesitation and with the same power imposed on Iran.
Obama used to overlook the terrorist practices of the Iranian regime, despite all the proof and evidence substantiating the fact at a time when he claimed he was fighting terrorism. Trump should not make the same mistake. States like Qatar and others are not different from any other party that tampers with the security of the region and that even contributed with Obama in destroying it. They have relations with ISIS, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, whether commercial or logistical ones, and attempt to incite against stable regime. These practices are not secret nor an impression but well-known data possessed by Washington.
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These states and organizations are Iran’s real power. The tough sanctions that Trump will impose on Iran aim to change the regime’s behavior, but he must also observe and punish the behavior of states that do not differ much from Iran – states, which like Iran during Obama’s terms, are trying to embellish their behavior with slogans and give Washington the impression that the US administration has managed to handle the Middle East in cooperation with them.
If Trump chooses to confront Iran alone but ignores or accepts the behavior of other states that support or sympathize with terrorists, then he would be seeking half a victory, and half a victory is in fact half failure, which does not befit his powerful administration.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani is a professor at King Saudi University and a writer for al-Sharq al-Awsat. She tweets @Alhazzani_Amal.