Even if the new American President Donald Trump decides to build walls with his neighbors, expel 10 million illegal residents from the US and abstain from extending his protection over Europe and southeast Asia and his allies in the Middle East, we will not worry much because American policy under former President Barack Obama has been so bad to the extent where Trump is acceptable regardless of what he does or does not do in our region.
Even if Trump calls a truce with Iran, supports Assad in remaining in power in Syria, abstains from supporting millions of refugees and displaced people and keeps silent over Russian expansion, then all these happened during Obama's era.
Terrorism has spread across the world. It targeted more than 10 European cities in such an unprecedented manner which no one imagined and it's all a result of the policy of recklessness which the former administration adopted. Chaos erupted in seven Arab countries and the policy of the former administration encouraged it during every crisis. When the revolution erupted in Libya, Obama sat and watched until ISIS and terrorist groups spread and killed the American envoy.
No one in the region expects Trump to fulfill political and military achievements and it will be a great accomplishment if his administration decides to halt Obama's policy which encouraged Iran to expand the scope of wars and let terrorist groups spread outAbdulrahman al-Rashed
In Egypt, and under the pretext of supporting the revolution, Obama's policy pushed the army to oust President Hosni Mubarak and then he left it in chaos which led to military intervention. In Yemen, he insisted on democratic change and then gave up his support and let rebels seize power through the force of arms. His stance in Bahrain was as bad as he tried to support the opposition and impose it, however, Gulf countries prevented him from doing so and sent their troops there.
‘Left as prey for the Iranians’
In Iraq, Obama withdrew whatever was left of his military power that was symbolic and that represented an important part of agreements with the Iraqi state. He left this strategic country as prey for the Iranians and the terrorist ISIS organization. Meanwhile, Syria's developments represented the worst disaster during Obama's era and during the region's history in more than half a century.
His hesitancy and misleading promises played a role in increasing destruction, murder and displacement which the Syrian people suffered from. It turned out that Obama sold Syria to reach compromises with Iran, in order to achieve his nuclear agreement with it, and that he granted Iran a lot more than lifting of sanctions and ending the policy of containment as he gave it huge financial sums, kept silent over its destructive military role in the region and did not protect his citizens and naval forces in the region from the aggression of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
During Obama's presidential term chaos spread in the region, and the number of terrorist groups, terrorists and their activity doubled around the world. No one wanted Obama to militarily intervene - considering the failure of American military intervention in Iraq during George Bush's era - but Obama was wrong when he prohibited his allies from selling weapons to the Syrian opposition because he did not want to anger the Iranians. He was also wrong when he underestimated terrorist groups and only realized their threat when they filled the world with terror.
After these horrible failures during Obama's eight years in power, I do not think anyone will be worried by any policy adopted by the new American president, as it cannot be worse than previous policies and their current results. No one in the region expects Trump to fulfill political and military achievements and it will be a great accomplishment if his administration decides to halt Obama's policy which encouraged Iran to expand the scope of wars and let terrorist groups spread out.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on January 23, 2017.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.