Thursday, May 19, 2011

Barack Obama's New Middle East Gambit

President Obama has a new, improved Middle East gambit he's planning to unveil before he makes his trip to Europe next week.

The president is scheduled to speak before AIPAC this coming weekend at their annual conference. It's getting closer to election time and the president is not exactly noted for either his warmth for AIPAC or for Israel. So you can expect a speech swimming in non-specific platitudes with about the same level of honesty as the one he gave at AIPAC before the 2008 election. The president will get a polite reception, but this is not 2008.

Obama is also reportedly considering making a trip to Israel, perhaps in June to accept Israeli President Shimon Peres' invitation to attend Peres' "Presidents' Conference" in Jerusalem. I personally doubt he'll go , but if he does it will be very restricted and carefully planned to keep the Israeli public away. He's not too popular there.

But before the president speaks in front of AIPAC and before Israeli PM Netanyahu addresses Congress, President Obama has a speech planned to address the Muslim world that is being dubbed 'Cairo II', a reference to Obama's 2008 apologia to the Muslim world that took place in that city.That's going to be the key to what happens next.

The president has apparently ruled out unearthing yet another major US peace initiative for the 'Palestinians' and Israel just now, despite what you may have heard. Aside from a passing reference to the need to resolve the conflict and have Israel sit down with the new Hamas/Fatah creature for peace talks, I doubt we'll hear much. The upcoming Cairo II speech will deal with different subject matter and Obama has very different goals in mind for it.

So what is President Obama up to in the Middle East? What will he say on Thursday?

To predict that, let's remember a few things:

  • The president's chief foreign policy aim has always been what in his mind is a 'reset' between the Muslim world, as he calls it, and America. He wants a realignment of American foreign policy to reflect that and has pursued it avidly, and the fact that this policy has largely failed hasn't changed anything for him.

  • This president is an intensely political animal, and he is addressing two audiences here - the Muslim world and his political constituency at home.

  • What I think the president will attempt to do is use the killing of Osama bin-Laden as a 'reset button' to essentially declare any hostilities between America and the Islamic world over and to declare a new era of outreach to the Muslim world.

    That part of the speech will be mostly for his American constituency, since a significant part of his Muslim listeners consider bin-Laden a hero and martyr. He will obliquely refer to al-Qaeda as hijacking Islam, 'the religion of peace' and will point towards the revolts in Egypt and Libya as a cure.

    What President Obama is going to embark on here is the beginning of no less than the legitimization of the Muslim Brotherhood. He will wax poetic about the 'Arab spring' to do it. Not only will he need to continue to endorse the 'Arab Spring' for his audience in the Muslim World, he will have to convince Americans that this is a good thing for US interest in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary.

    President Obama had a large part in orchestrating the current unrest in the Arab World and the rise of the Brotherhood, the Ikhwan. He went out of his way to meet, recognize and assist members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, insisting that they be allowed to attend his Cairo speech and then summarily dumping US ally Egyptian President Mubarak without a backward glance after helping to undermining him. There are a number of people in his administration with close ties to the Brotherhood, like Obama's hand picked ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Conferences, Rashad Husayn.

    What's at stake in terms of American interests is no less than an Ikhwan controlled Caliphate in Libya, Egypt and in 'Palestine', controlled by the Brotherhood's 'Palestinian' branch Hamas and on friendly terms with Iran..who just coincidentally are the instigators and backers of the two other outpourings of the Arab Spring, Yemen and Bahrain.

    In the late 1940's during the Chinese civil war, there were a number of Leftist politicians who referred to Mao as 'an agrarian reformer' to justify US support for what when then referred to as Chinese democracy. It was only much later that Mao's true nature became known, and by then it was too late to do anything about it.

    The president's speech will be of a similar nature, and he will undoubtedly include US largess in the form of financial aid and in the case of Egypt, debt forgiveness.

    But the Arab Spring's true nature can be seen in the above wall poster painted by the Libyan refugees we are supporting, by a reading of the Hamas charter and a careful look at what Hamas and Fatah are saying, by the attacks in Egypt on the Copts, and by remembering that the first major gathering in Egypt's Tahrir Square after the revolt featured Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a religious leader who is banned in America and much of Europe and who claims that Allah sent Hitler to destroy the Jews and that it is up to Muslims to finish the job.

    That is the true face of the 'Arab Spring' ....not a move towards freedom and democracy as we understand it but simply replacing one form of despotism with another.

    President Obama is like the Sorcerer's Apprentice when it comes to the Middle East, meddling in things he doesn't quite grasp and then running around frantically when the results get out of hand and he gets in over his head. It will be interesting to see what he has to say.

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