New York - Since U.S. President Barack Obama came to office in January 2009, the world has witnessed a number of geopolitical changes, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region.
New York – Since U.S. President Barack Obama came to office in January 2009, the world has witnessed a number of geopolitical changes, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region.
For more than six decades, most countries of this region have looked toward Washington in times of crisis and have sought military assistance from the superpower to ward off destabilizing threats.
While such strategic partnerships binding the United States to its traditional allies in the region, as well as Turkey and other countries, continued through the Presidency of President George W. Bush, since the inauguration of Barak Obama as US President in January 2009, observers have seen an unprecedented shift in U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Africa.
The time when Washington would stand by its traditional allies and defend them in the international arena, such as the United Nations, seems to now be a bygone era.
Several developments in the region indicate that the Obama administration has begun to turn its back progressively on its Arab allies. The Obama administration appears to be looking elsewhere and sacrificing its traditional allies.
The decision of the United States to accept the signature of a “historical” deal regarding Iran’s nuclear power is a sober reminder to those who have relied on the US’s unfailing support in the past that America is not moved by emotions or other considerations when it comes to securing its strategic interests. It seems that the new orientation of Washington’s foreign policy will give more priority to Iran over its Arab neighbors.
President Obama’s decision to reach a deal with Iran, a country considered as the U.S.’s enemy since the 1979 revolution, not only empowered Teheran and enable it to become the main regional power in the Middle East after Israel, but also scuttled the predictions of some Arab observers who believed that Washington could launch airstrikes against Iran in order to prevent it from acquiring the atomic bomb.
With its long-term ally, Saudi Arabia, the Obama administration has been oblivious of the role Saudi Arabia played in helping the United States during the last decade of the Cold War. Observers may remember how Riyadh used the oil card to further weaken the former Soviet Union and deprive it from its main source of revenue.
At the request of Ronald Reagan, the then Saudi King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz, decided to slash oil prices, which had a disastrous effect on the USSR’s economy and was among the main causes that accelerated its collapse few years later. The Saudi decision caused the Soviet Union to lose $20 billion a year.
At the height of the US-Russia crisis over Crimea in 2014, former President Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael Reagan, demonstrated that his father had requested the Saudis to pump oil on the market in order to accelerate the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Saudi move was part of the deal passed between former US President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz Al-Saudi in 1945. The main component of this deal was that Saudi Arabia would provide the U.S. with abundant and cheap oil in exchange for an American security umbrella.
With Obama’s decision to sign the nuclear deal with Iran, which constitutes an existential threat in the eyes of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, he signed the demise of the seven-decade-long agreement binding the two countries.
In addition to this strategic economic partnership role, Saudi Arabia was for several decades the security valve used by the successive US administrations at times when the world economy was affected by either a lack of oil production or of rising prices. Saudi Arabia is the only producer in the world that has significant production capacity in reserve, allowing it to increase its exports in times of crisis. It is thanks to this reserve capacity that during the 1991 Gulf war, Saudi Arabia managed to offset the lack of Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil on the world market and, thus, avoid the global economy an oil shock comparable to those of 1973-1974 and 1973-1980.
In addition to the Saudi example, there are other instances where countries have enjoyed privileged relations with Washington for several decades, but are now being affected by the same lack of support or abandonment from the current American administration.
The most important example is that of the Syrian opposition to Bashar Assad. After Washington showed support for the opposition and called for the departure of President Assad, accused him of crimes against humanity ad even threatened to lead a campaign of airstrikes against his regime, it did not think twice about dropping its support for the Syrian opposition, thus sacrificing a whole people who were calling for a new regime and for the establishment of a democracy.
Instead of staying true to the principles of democracy, human right, the defense of individual freedoms, etc., it espouses, Washington decided to reach a deal with Russia and allow Bashar Assad to remain in power.
The same policy applies to Turkey, a NATO member and ally of the West during the Cold War. During the recent crisis between Russia and Turkey after Ankara downed a Russian jet that had crossed Turkey’s airspace, Washington showed no strong support for its long-time ally.
Ukraine has had no more luck than Turkey. This former member of the USSR, which aspired to become a member of NATO and EU member and, thus, integrate into the Western camp, has been left to deal alone with Russia over the Crimea territorial dispute. The noise that was made in the Security Council after the crisis broke out was not followed by any bold or effective measure from Washington to show its real support for Kiev. Instead, Obama chose to give in to Russia and accept implicitly that it prefers not to interfere in Moscow’s backyard.
The U.S. has also sacrificed its whole strategy towards Cuba and sacrificed millions of Cubans that it helped to settle in Florida, leaving them only a glimpse of hope for a change in Cuba. The U.S. has turned the Cuban community into the equivalent of the Algerian Harki, who were abandoned by France after the independence of Algeria.
Last but not least, the US also sacrificed Houssni Mubarak, who made Egypt the bastion of America in the Middle East.
These examples have American and foreign observers asking this question: is the United States a reliable ally that can be resorted to in times of crisis?
Based on the analysis of the recent moves made by the American administration, it appears that Washington shifts its alliances and adapts quickly to the changing realities of the world without due consideration of the interests of its “long-time strategic allies,” and that Arab countries no longer have the same strategic importance in the eyes of Washington as they did in the past.
Samir Bennis is the co-founder of and editor-in-chief of Morocco World News. You can follow him on Twitter @Samir Bennis
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission