Filling the vacuum left by Obama’s failure

Filling the vacuum left by Obama’s failure
Saudi Gazette Sunday September 15, 2013


In his speech this past week, President Barack Obama all but admitted he does not have the power to punish Syrian despot Bashar Al-Assad for his use of chemical weapons in his fight against pro-democracy rebels.

Obama does not have the support of the American people and he lacks the support of the rest of the world. That means if Assad is to be defeated, the moderate Arab world will have to step up to the plate. They need to play the same game that Assad has been playing against them, using strategic public relations spin and cleverly crafted messages to win support. It also means that they will need to partner with Israel because the same enemies of the moderate Arab world are also the enemies of Israel.

Israel has a huge incentive to partner with the moderate Arab world against Syria. With Obama neutralized in Syria, it will be difficult for the US to attack Iran, undermining Israel’s primary objective over the past five years. Syria is the weaker partner of the larger and more powerful axis of terrorism, a triumvirate that also includes Iran and Hezbollah.
Hezbollah is Israel’s most menacing foe and the military arm of Iran. Together they can destroy Israel. And Syria is the base from which it will happen, which is a point lost on Americans and buried deep in Middle East complexities.

But for the moderate Arab world to work with Israel, Israel must end its refusal to compromise with the Palestinians. To defeat the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis, Israel will have to partner with moderate Sunni Arabs and create an independent Palestinian State. Moderate Arab leaders, through Saudi Arabia, have proposed a peace plan that Israel so far has failed to embrace.

Israel has become a bigger target as a result of Obama’s failure, which began two years ago when Obama hesitated to arm the anti-Assad rebels.

Ironically, Obama and Israel feared the rebels might use the weapons against Israel once Assad was out of the way. In reality, though, the Syrian rebels would have been a bigger threat to Iran and Hezbollah, not to Israel.

The anti-Assad rebels began their protests after Obama returned Syria in May 2010 to the terrorism watch list. Obama ironically cited Assad’s support of Hezbollah and Iran as the reason. That compelled anti-Assad protests in March 2011, which began peacefully but quickly turned violent when Assad’s forces shot and killed demonstrators.

Assad used strategic public relations to spin the issues for the already much confused American public. Americans are the most educated people in the world but the least educated about the world. To Americans, all Arabs are potential terrorists. They can’t tell the difference between Arab extremists and Arab moderates.

Assad’s messages were simple but effective: To the Arab world, Assad called the rebels “Israeli agents.” To the West and to the American public, he argued the rebels were Al-Qaeda terrorists. Americans were ripe for Assad’s spin. It took 10 years, but many Americans finally acknowledge that President Bush falsely claimed that Iraq had WMDs and was allied with Al-Qaeda.

Assad easily confused American public opinion by throwing Al-Qaeda into the mix turning to his supporters in the American Arab community who organized protests in 2011 and 2012 in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Detroit. These American Arab activists believe that toppling Assad would undermine the only remaining confrontation state against Israel.

Americans view Arab world terrorism in the context of suicide bombings and can easily believe that the Syrian rebels gassed their own people in order to blame it on Assad to drag America into the war.

Americans can’t comprehend the inherent contradictions that undermine Assad’s supporters. The same pro-Assad American Arab activists, who are protesting against punishing Assad for using chemical weapons against civilians, reverse the argument against Israel. They want Israel prosecuted for using white phosphorus against civilians in the 2008-2009 Gaza war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syria’s primary military and financial benefactor, sidelined Obama even more when he claimed Assad would voluntarily eliminate his caches of chemical weapons if the threat of a US strike were taken off the table.

Right now, Assad is standing tall. With no real obstacle from the West or the United States, Assad can destroy the rebels by reorganizing his military strategy. He doesn’t need to use chemical weapons any longer. The rebels are weak and will not get Western arms. Eventually, Assad will win. And once Assad defeats the rebels, the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah triumvirate will be much more threatening not only to Israel, but to the moderate Arab World, as well.

If Obama is incapable of acting to defend the Free World, the least the moderate Arab leadership can do is defend the Arab world against extremism.

– Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania

Categories: Middle East Topics

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2 replies


  1. على الزعماء العرب المعتدلين أن يملؤوا الفراغ الذي تركه فشل أوباما « Ray Hanania Columns
  2. Only a balance of power can force Israel to make peace « Ray Hanania Columns

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