Washington to Spread
Its Agents in the Region
By Areeb al-Rintawi
Translated By Chris Marrs
23 January 2013
Edited by Gillian Palmer
Jordan - ad-Dustour - Original Article (Arabic)
Just as he did in Libya and Mali, President Obama will set about establishing agents from the ranks of Washington's international and regional allies to deal with some of the hot issues in the region. The president will be content with presenting advice and logistical support and blessing the “brave decisions” of his allies, just as he did with his friend Francois Hollande, who nearly drowned his country in the sands of the Sahara.
Obama first won the White House thanks to his staunch position regarding the withdrawal from Bush's two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that left Washington fleeing with its “tail between its legs.” He returned to the White House a second time under the simple promise of “no new wars,” and he was certain to reiterate this position in his victory speech.
No American war on Syria. Because Syria is not like Mali or Libya, it is impossible for any international power on the ground to launch a wide ranging war that would topple the Assad regime. Turkey alone possesses the forces, geographical position and incentives to do so. However, Ankara has become restrained by its Syrian policy, as it entails repercussions within Turkey. Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned on his island, has become the means to extricate the Justice and Development Party from its isolation and break the yokes of the crisis.
No American war on Iran. That is what Obama's words indicate. Phrases like “all options are on the table” no longer have any purpose except to strengthen negotiating conditions. As for those who want war with Iran, there are two sides. First, the Arab side, which cannot even launch a war on Eritrea, much less on Iran. On the other side is Netanyahu, who came to power twice (once in 2009 and again today) under one slogan: Iran is the enemy, and war is undoubtedly coming if diplomacy fails to declaw Iran. But it is very unlikely that Israel is strong enough to launch an effective war on Israel, much less deal with the repercussions of a war against a strong regional power such as Iran.
Yemen has been left for Saudi Arabia (under the title of the Gulf Initiative) and Syria has been left for the Saudi-Turkish alliance, with the support of a seemingly reckless French president. Iran is left for Israel. If they decide in a moment of insanity to launch their rockets and missiles on Iranian nuclear installations, Washington will stay behind the curtains, supporting, blessing and offering logistical support, but America won't get its hands dirty.
But Obama, who chose not to fight, has been exhausted by the peace option. The Palestinian issue — all Middle Eastern issues, really — are no longer at the top of the White House's agenda. Washington, which has decided to end foreign oil dependency, has also decided to pay particular attention to Asia and the Pacific. That region has money, trade, markets, interests and great threats, including the Chinese economy and the creeping Russian military presence, thanks to Putin's nationalistic conflicts.
The Middle East is left to chaos, creative or otherwise. American administration of the region will continue through intermediaries and agents. However, not one of them is able (or brave enough) to fill the American gap. The door will be open for regional players, organizations or “trans-state” movements to play a growing role.
As far as Palestine is concerned, the situation is alarming, and yet another reason to mourn the peace process or the “two-state solution.” There is no way to get off this path without opening another; it would be unfortunate to depend on a policy of “more of the same.” As for the Arabs, the time has come to stop depending on international military intervention to solve the Syrian crisis. It is now upon the Arabs to be more effective in forging a political path to solve the issue. As for Iran, the decisive moment has come: We can either fall in line behind Netanyahu in a second Hafar al-Batin* or we can use our minds and search for a political solutions to the Arab-Iranian crises. We must first cool tensions to find political solutions and negotiations between neighboring nations that have played a pivotal role in the history of this region and will certainly continue to do so in its future.
*Translator’s Note: A town in Saudi Arabia that was attacked by Iraqi forces during the 1991 Gulf War. In this context, the author is referring to the possibility that the Arab powers will seek an external power (Israel) to deal with the Iranian issue, as they did with America to deal with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
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