June 15, 2010 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - A little over a year after the president's much ballyhooed Muslim outreach speech delivered in Cairo, Egypt, the results seem to be in.
The picture they present is not pretty; with the level of political disintegration accelerating across the Middle East; it's difficult to find a single positive development that would caution against rejecting Mr. Obama's "new tone" with Islam.
A few observations:
1. Gaza flotilla - this event should be considered the poster child for the failed Obama foreign policy. The reflexive condemnation of Israel by the majority of world opinion - and the nonexistent level of support for the Jewish state coming out of official DC - has done nothing but embolden the enemy.
2. Turkey appears to be lost for the foreseeable future - at least to this government. Erdogan, feeling the pressure from Turkeys resurgent Islamists, especially the Republican Peoples Party [CHP] has removed constraints on those similarly aligned. By playing up Turkey's leadership role in the Gaza flotilla, Erdogan had ridden a wave of popular approval evident in huge pro-Hamas street demonstrations. Unless things change substantially and very quickly, you can assign the loss of Turkey to the amateurs in the WH.
3. Hamid Karzai - Fearful of being abandoned by the administration, the Afghan president is wisely hedging bets with the Taliban in anticipation of what might result from a hasty U.S. withdrawal. In his latest statements Karzai is claiming that the U.S. can't defeat Taliban which plays into the narrative that U.S. Commander Gen. William McChrystal is being hindered by Kabul's reluctance to assist in the much anticipated push against enemy strongholds in Helmand and other key provinces. Additionally, it appears that most of team Obama's on the ground Afghan advisors, especially the estimable Clinton retread Richard Holbrook [U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan] can't seem to get along with the government which team Obama is professing to aid. The animosity is particularly evident between Karzai and Holbrooke, who was MIA during Obama's March visit to the area, posing the question who is running day to day operations?
4. Egypt - The removal of the country's land component of its blockade of Gaza seriously weakens efforts to keep arms out of the hands of the Hamas government. As the only Arab country which has officially ceased hostilities against Israel, this is a major and negative development.
5. Arab League - Amr Moussa, the organization's secretary general toured Gaza on Sunday sending a clear message of solidarity with Hamas. Something that was heretofore not publicly evident.
6. Iran - nothing in the way of good news is coming out of Ahmadinejad's lunatic theocracy. The Gaza situation strengthens the country's hand as a destabilizing force and the administration's inexplicable unwillingness to do what needs to be done to forestall an Iranian nuke makes the recent announcement of additional "sanctions" against the country seem childish.
7. Pakistan - its recent partnership with Iran on a $7.6 billion gas pipeline deal is not a helpful sign seen in the context of the aforementioned. Scheduled for completion in 2014 sale of the gas to Pakistan will provide much needed hard dollars to the Iranian regime. Of additional note, India was entirely cut out of the deal, not surprising given Pakistan's antipathy towards that nation.
These and related developments prompt two questions:
1. What possible metric is team Obama using that would lead it to believe that its Muslim outreach has done anything but destabilized the Middle East?
2. Who are the moderates in the Middle East right now?
In answering the first, examples of the administration's success in the Middle East are nonexistent, regarding the second it's easy to sort out the moderates, they are the ones who are silent, cowed and frozen into skepticism that America will be willing to provide the leadership necessary to stem the rise of Islamism and protect them from repercussions to opposing the hard-liners.
Team Obama's year-long effort has yielded one concrete achievement - its actions have emboldened the jihadists to a degree that would have been unimaginable even two years ago.
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