Obama’s Contradiction and Lack of Credibility
Abdullah Al Alami*
April 19, 2016
When President Barack Obama's plane lands in Riyadh on Thursday, he would have completed four visits to Saudi Arabia since he entered the White House in January 2009. This is our opportunity to confirm that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), not anybody else, will determine the form, shape and content of the relationship with the United States.
The agenda of Mr. Obama's meeting with the leaders of the GCC includes three main topics. The first topic is stability in the region, especially the situation in Syria and Iraq. Not surprisingly, the US policy (at least during the last seven years) excelled in contradictory positions. Mr. Obama even failed to take any serious, clear or straightforward position on Bashar Assad. All red lines drawn by President Obama, vanished in thin air.
History will tell how President Obama has lost his credibility at a time when Assad bombs inflamed Syrian children and cities, which has resulted in humanitarian catastrophes.
The second topic is Iraq. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, pre-empted Obama’s visit by “assuring” the GCC leaders that President Obama would ask them for economic aid for Iraq. What a joke! In other words, after the United States has asked the GCC to finance the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, which has resulted in the destruction of the whole region, it is now calling for financing the rehabilitation and rebuilding Iraq.
The third topic on Mr. Obama's agenda in Riyadh will focus on the fight against Daesh. Obama accused Saudi Arabia of not doing enough to help the United States cope with the terrorism in the Middle East. This is the way he had described it in his interview in "Atlantic". I doubt that Mr. Obama would dare repeat this accusation this week in Riyadh. If anything, he should apologize for making that allegation.
It seems that Mr. Obama has ignored that fact that Riyadh has provided crucial intelligence to Washington to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States.
The third topic is how to cope with Iran's destabilizing activities in the region. President Obama views on this issue are skeptical and vague to say the least. His remarks on this issue in the “Atlantic” perhaps came as a shock to the GCC countries. Is this really "Obama doctrine"?
History will tell how Mr. Obama entered the White House with wide range of contradictory policies. History will tell how Mr. Obama has refrained from taking the minimum force needed to deal with international crises, especially those created by Iran in the region. Accordingly, Tehran managed to bet on Mr. Obama’s indecisiveness and lack of credibility.
I expect that the message that Mr. Obama will receive in Riyadh is that we will determine for ourselves our role and our relationship with the United States. In other words, we too will not allow "free rides" in our region. Yes, the rules of the game have changed.
I have no doubt that the US Administration is now busy analyzing the implications of the possible withdrawal of the Saudi financial assets in America or even relocating these financial to other areas around the world. It is also useful to consider the repercussions of any political crisis between Saudi Arabia and the United States on the stability of the US dollar.
In short, the United States had gradually lost its “glory” in the Arab region. Why is this not surprising? The United States had asserted in more than one occasion that its internal interests are the only concern and that lasting friendships among nations do not matter.
Yes, we've learned the lesson.