Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Shiites and Sunnis are to Islam what the Crips and the Bloods are to gang warfare. In his first term, Obama’s foreign policy reflected the traditional alignment between the Muslim Brotherhood and its progressive allies. Sunni Islamists swiftly rose to power in the Arab Spring across the region.
While the White House threw its full support behind the Muslim Brotherhood, it winked at the Saudi suppression of Shiite protests in Bahrain. When Gaddafi put down Islamist opponents, Obama bombed Libya. But when Saudi tanks roared into the majority Shiite country in support of its Sunni government, there were only token protests from the State Department, even though the Saudis were using American military hardware to suppress popular protests by Shiite Islamist groups allied with Iran.
Obama was no enemy of Iran’s Shiite axis. He had turned away from Iran’s Green Revolution. Even before he had arrived in the Senate, the Democrats had courted Syria’s Assad to spite Bush. After he took office, Assad said, “We have the impression that this administration will be different and we have seen the signals.” And Obama made an effort, however erratic, to normalize relations with Assad.
He committed to full participation in the P5+1 talks and various concessions would eventually be made behind the scenes that would lead to the legitimization of Iran’s nuclear program.
And yet, in spats between Shiites and Sunnis, Obama could be counted on to take the Sunni side.
Some of it was a matter of timing. Iran’s public face was Ahmadinejad, a bigot too repulsive for even Obama to approach. Meanwhile the Muslim Brotherhood had rebranded itself as a democracy protest movement. Obama may not have preferred Sunni Islamists to Shiite Islamists, but the Brotherhood was at its peak PR back then while Iran was showing off Holocaust cartoons. It wasn’t a hard choice.
But by term two, the Arab Spring had burned out. The Muslim Brotherhood had lost political power struggles and military campaigns from Egypt to Yemen. Its push for a Libyan War had burdened Obama with Benghazi and its histrionic attempts to get him to bomb Syria were getting on his nerves.
During Obama’s Cairo speech, the Muslim Brotherhood had seemed like a political movement that could take over through a combination of elections and American political pressure. By term two, the Muslim Brotherhood was back to being a terrorist organization in Egypt and had developed an endless appetite for dragging the United States into military interventions. And Obama did not want any more wars.
In term two, the United States had shed its traditional allies in the region and was wedded to an international terrorist group that no one except Qatar seemed to like. The Muslim Brotherhood had dragged the United States into political conflicts with Egypt and the UAE, and into military conflicts in Libya and Syria. And, worst of all, the Brotherhood had proven unable to pull its weight.
It couldn’t win wars without American intervention. It couldn’t even stay in power with support from the White House. The Muslim Brotherhood was no longer the solution, instead it was dead weight.
Syria was where Obama’s allegiances switched. The Muslim Brotherhood didn’t get its war. Instead Iran got its nukes. Facing a choice between war and appeasement, Obama picked appeasement.
The Muslim Brotherhood hasn’t been kicked aside. Its forces in Syria still receive some support. The White House scolds every time Egypt is mean to one of its activists and it certainly hasn’t broken ties with CAIR or any of the local Muslim Brotherhood front groups. But it’s no longer calling the shots.
In Iraq, Obama has backed the Shiite government in Baghdad over former Sunni tribal allies, who couldn’t even get a hearing when they came to the United States, and even over Turkey.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Obama was calling Turkey’s Islamist leader a “role model” and praising him as one of his most trusted allies. But like the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey’s Islamist AKP lashed out at protests at home while demanding American military intervention in Syria. Obama stopped talking to Erdogan who was no longer the solution, but had instead become yet another problem.
Now the White House is taking Iraq’s side in the dispute over Turkish troops in the country. Instead Obama favors Iran’s Shiite terror militias in Iraq despite their past terror attack against Americans.
Obama cut a WMD deal with Assad and now there are signs that the Russians may maneuver him into endorsing the continuation of a pro-Iranian government in Damascus. Secretary of State John Kerry has disavowed “regime change” in Syria, taking the biggest Sunni demand for the country off the table.
If term one was Obama’s Sunni term, term two has become his Shiite term.
What Obama fears most is being dragged into another war. The rise of ISIS has forced him into a corner. While the Sunni axis offers to fight ISIS in exchange for American intervention against Assad, the Shiite axis has offered to do the fighting while Obama stays out of the war and lets Iran do what it wants.
The White House thinks that this is a diplomatic victory when it actually makes the United States even more toxic in the region. Obama’s bid to repair relations with the Muslim world first got him into bed with the Muslim Brotherhood and then Iran. At the rate he’s going, he’ll find a way to embrace ISIS.
Obama has burned through old allies and new allies. His relations with Israel and Egypt are hostile. The Saudis have gone their own way. Even the Muslim Brotherhood has reverted to its old habits. Iran is his last stop. Having exhausted all the other political options in the region, Obama has no other choice.
The Iranian nuclear deal soaked up so much political capital that Obama can’t disavow it no matter what the Shiite state does. He needs Iran to win in Iraq to save him from the mounting domestic criticism of his failed war against ISIS. And so Iran has Obama exactly where it wants the lame duck leader.
Through his dirty deals with the terror state in Tehran, Obama has become Iran’s latest hostage.
Obama doesn’t care about Iraq or Syria anymore. His focus is on ramming through as many domestic initiatives as he can in his last days in office. And to do that he needs quiet on the Middle Eastern front. To get that quiet, he has made yet another deal with the devil in which Iran gets a free hand to go nuclear and take over Iraq, as long as it keeps the noise down to a dull roar. Iran has gotten what it wanted, but Obama hasn’t. And that is typical of his botched, fumbling arrangements with terrorists.
Iran hasn’t had much luck in Syria before. Even with Russian support, Assad doesn’t have much to brag about. A peace deal without the support of the Sunni axis is doomed. And Obama’s numbers on terrorism are in the basement. After the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama has tied his hopes to yet another Islamist loser that can’t close the deal. And his Shiite term is likely to go the way of his Sunni term.
Leave a Reply