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Obama's strategy solidifies Arab chaos

September 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm

For the past two weeks the international media has focused on a speech given by US President Barack Obama about his strategy for tackling ISIS. The so-called Islamic State has been expanding at an alarming rate and now poses a threat to many of the Middle East’s unstable regimes especially its kingdoms. In reality, Obama’s speech did not introduce anything new or address new ways on how best to counter the increasing threat that ISIS poses to the region.

The speech was based largely on intelligence and information that aims to emphasise the use of certain media-speak for this issue and the jargon centres on the idea of terrorism. The use of such terminology is hardly a matter that preoccupies the minds of the people but greatly concerns intelligence agencies that function within the orbit of American hegemony.

Obama wanted to point out that the policies and practices of Arab dictatorships and regimes are the main reason for the presence and export of terrorism in the Middle East. As such, one can conclude that terrorism is actually a defence mechanism or attempt to survive. Many Arab regimes have provided logistical support or statistical information in the war against ISIS. While this is supposed to be led by the United States, the Arab states participate at a distance, among them Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates; all are contributing to the fight through providing funds or soldiers on the ground.

The US president failed to mention the problem that gave rise to the creation of ISIS in the first place; the violent practices carried out by Arab dictatorships are far worse than ISIS in their effects on their own people. In Iraq, it was the sectarian and racist government led by Nouri Al-Maliki that allowed ISIS to prosper. Maliki’s government has used barbaric violence and state terrorism to respond to the demands of the Iraqi people, not to mention the marginalisation of the Sunni population. Moreover, ISIS found fertile ground in Syria due to the military response of Bashar Al-Assad to demonstrations calling for political reform and the subsequent nationwide conflict, in which crimes against humanity have been committed by regime security forces. One must also note that the unfortunate situation found in both Iraq and Syria is in part due to the counter-revolutionary efforts sponsored by the Gulf’s largest countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both have worked tirelessly to counter the popular “Arab Spring”, which has led to an unprecedented level of violence that many characterise as terrorism.

America’s strategy against ISIS includes conducting a series of airstrikes whilst training Iraqi forces and what the American president described as “moderate” fighters in Syria. In this way, the US administration seeks to equip regional forces with the ability to fight ISIS because any air war must be coupled with “boots on the ground” to achieve the ultimate objectives.

Obama mentioned that the war against ISIS would follow America’s anti-Al Qaeda tactics in Somalia and Yemen. In both countries the US is using drones, which kill more innocent people than the actual intended targets. Both examples demonstrate how the US has ignored Arab sovereignty and that this approach will not only prolong war and conflict, but also cause more harm than good for the people of the Middle East.

Although the president spoke of training and providing support for the moderate forces that are fighting against the Syrian regime, he failed to explain why the US has stayed more or less silent while Assad continues to commit war crimes. The only time that America broke its silence was when the regime used chemical weapons against its own people. Washington was forced to speak out due to fears for the safety of its Israeli ally. It is America’s silence and inaction which have caused Syria to become fertile ground for armed terrorist groups.

Sadly, Obama’s speech did not suggest anything new to deal with the current crisis in the Middle East. His US-led international coalition against ISIS will ensure continued chaos in the region; this is evident by the fact that America and the international community failed to do anything about the chaos until it began to affect western interests, such as the supply of oil and Israel’s security. Western priorities have been made clear by the treatment of the revolutions in Syria and Libya as well as the popular struggle against the sectarian regime in Iraq.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.