Al Hayat - 15 February, 2013
Author: Zuheir Kseibati
The North Korean nuclear experiment was not good news for President Barack Obama, a few hours before the delivery of his State of the Union address. Indeed, now is the time for a "diplomatic solution" which would draw up the roadmap for some sort of a deal with Iran over its nuclear file. And the solution wanted by Obama and the West must guarantee Israel’s security. Was this security not among the priorities of the address, at a time when Tehran is trying to include Syria and Bahrain in the context of a deal and when Obama heading to Kazakhstan next at the end of the month?
Obama is promising the Americans he will hasten the United States’ military retreat from Afghanistan and any possible war arenas, at a time when Pentagon is unable to send an aircraft carrier to the Gulf after all the threats to deter any Iranian attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz. Iran, Israel and Al-Qaeda were thus present in the State of the Union address following the economic concerns of the majority in America, while the president is busy preparing his weapons to engage in his long-term battle with the Republicans over spending and the US taxation policy.
On the other hand, Palestine, along with the expression “Arab spring” were completely absent from the address, as Obama might have realized that the latter spring is provoking concerns surrounding the hegemony of the so-called political Islam movement. The president recognized there were citizens living in the region with “universal rights” and that America may not wish – or may not be able to – change the course in Egypt. In the region, there are citizens and people whose “fundamental rights” Obama insisted on respecting. And although he smartly avoided the use of the term “minorities” to avoid tackling their concerns in the “spring,” he surprised the Syrians once again by promising to maintain the pressures on the regime in Damascus. But they all know that the only justification for this promise resides at the core of Obama’s strategy in Syria, i.e. neither leading from the front nor from behind, thus simply standing by and watching, despite the fall of 70,000 dead. And the only thing that could change this situation and provoke an intervention would be the threatening of Israel’s security and the United States’ interests. Is this not what the American president said prior to his address?
Hence, we are universal citizens who deserve verbal support, knowing that this support also has red lines. Indeed, many among Congress’ battles are awaiting the White House resident and his defense of the middle class in America. Consequently, earning the support of the Jewish lobby is a priority, and requires a fierce defense of Israel’s security. This security has also prompted Obama’s Middle Eastern tour within weeks, and who knows! He might get lucky during the Kazakhstan nuclear tour and see the elucidation of a roadmap leading towards a deal with Iran, which would spare the Hebrew state from the costly war scenario and spare the Democrats in the United States from being led into a duel in which they do not want to become involved in the Gulf.
Is Obama’s abstinence from resorting to a military solution not a precious card for Tehran, although he actually threatened with measures to prevent it from acquiring nuclear fangs? And because now is the time for solutions – as he said – the superpowers are hoping that Iran will not waste the opportunity of the “new ideas” which will be put forward to ensure a compromise and will be used as a carrot on a stick to close the nuclear file.
All of these developments justify the mounting fears in the Gulf over the imminence of the deal, and the Iranians’ earning of concessions from the West at the expense of the region and its security. In the meantime, soft warnings are being reiterated to Tehran against proceeding with the game of hidden strings and exploiting the domestic situation in some Gulf states to carry out known instigation policies.
Now is the time for compromise. But will it be once again at the expense of the Arabs?
An Arab diplomat stated that the region lost its status in America and among the major actors, due to the mounting turmoil and the repercussions of the spring revolutions that are eating their children. “We are no longer an element of pressure, so why should the Americans take us into account?” In addition, he said it was not surprising that the term Palestine was absent from Obama’s address – as it was the case last year also – when he tackled foreign policy, believing that the chances of seeing him announcing new ideas to achieve the two-state solution were slim to none.
The American president’s tour next month will merely aim to mend the relations with Netanyahu’s government, after it did its best to blackmail Washington to the farthest extent by using two cards, i.e. the threat of Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and the threat of having Islamic extremists controlling the capabilities of states, exploiting their revolutions and growing closer to Israel.
All of the above justifies – during the stage of the American retreat from the region – the imagined map for the division power, one which is feared to be between Israel, Iran and the groups that surfaced following Al-Qaeda and have imposed on Obama’s strategy a revised version of the war on terrorism, i.e. one without fleets or occupation.
At a time when the region is lacking any weight on the international scene, is it not enough that we are universal citizens in the remains of states?!