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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Obama's true colors shrouded in mystery

by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

© AP Images: An anti-Obama rally in Cairo
© AP Images: Supporters of Pakistan's religious party Jamat-i-Islami rally against US drone attacks

What an inspirational figure US President Barack Obama once was! He rode on a wave of positive change. His hope-filled rhetoric was spell-binding. I was convinced that he was the genuine article, a compassionate human being resolved to win hearts and minds within and without his nation’s borders - the opposite of his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose aggressive foreign policies soiled America’s reputation as a force for good.

Many of those who rooted for Obama in 2008 forgave him his failure to fulfil most of his pre-election promises - his pledge to close Guantanamo, to bring about a Palestinian state, withdraw troops from Afghanistan by mid-2011 and reach out to the Arab world - as US presidents tend to towards caution during their first terms with an eye on re-election.

Once the shackles were loosened during Obama’s second term, we counted upon him to do what’s right. We were wrong. Drone attacks on Afghanistan and Pakistan that sever the lives of civilians are on-going. The Palestinian- Israeli peace process is nothing but a behind-closed-doors PR farce to cover expanding Jewish colonies on the West Bank. And, rather than guide his nation closer to America’s allies in the Middle East and Gulf, Obama’s decisions have pushed Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even its Middle-East proxy, Israel, to seek greater self-reliance.

The American people are disappointed, too for reasons of their own. Today, Obama’s domestic approval rating, according to a Gallup poll, stands at just 39 per cent, several points lower than that of President Bush at the same stage of his presidency.

It seems Obama lacks the courage of his convictions and has been dubbed by newspapers as “Ditherer-in-Chief”. But does he really suffer from hesitancy or confused thinking? Or, are those ‘personality traits’ deliberately contrived as a facade to hide a murky foreign policy agenda – or even a personal ideology - from the American people and US allies?

I have no interest in conspiracy theories and I’m not inclined to point a finger without being sure of my facts. However, I’m flabbergasted by some of Obama’s twist and turns in recent months that have shocked and dismayed America’s long time regional partners.

For instance, why does the White House regularly criticise the Egyptian government when it was virtually silent over Morsi’s litany of authoritarian edicts and crackdowns on protestors last winter? When Representatives Michelle Bachman, Steve King and Louie Gohmert visited Cairo in September, they addressed the Egyptian people, saying, “We are here as members of Congress to say we are with you, we encourage you because together we are going through the same suffering – the United States and Egypt have the same enemy – terrorism.”

Americans shudder at the very word terrorism, yet although Egypt has been plagued by terrorist attacks since Morsi’s toppling on July 3rd by public demand, the US, which says it supports “the will of the people”, has seen fit to punish and condemn the largest Arab nation for its attempts to rein-in violence. In this connection, there are important questions that require answering:

Firstly, is there any truth in allegations that the President’s half-brother Malik Hussein Obama, who manages the Barack H. Obama Foundation, is the Executive Secretary of Sudan’s Islamic Da’wa Organisation linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and headed by the Deputy-Head of a Hamas fund-raising organisation? More to the point, why has the mainstream media shied away from investigating this?

Secondly, did the Obama Administration secretly fund the Muslim Brotherhood’s political campaigning in Egypt as announced on various Egyptian television networks – and if so, why? Saad el-Shater, the son of Khairat el-Shater, a senior MB leader, told a news agency in Anatolia that his family “has evidence” tying Obama directly to the Brotherhood, warning that such evidence would become public knowledge unless Egyptian authorities released his father from prison; shortly afterwards he was also detained.

Thirdly, is former US Rep. Allen West right in claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama Administration? In June 2012, West urged the President to repudiate the Brotherhood and later wrote on Facebook: “We do have Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups and individuals infiltrated into this current Obama Administration?” If, indeed, the White House is occupied or influenced by the MB, it’s no wonder Iran is suddenly America’s new best friend, never mind that in the process the US is seriously jeopardizing its relationship with Israel, previously believed to be off-limits. Never before has a US leader U-turned so dramatically while snubbing Israel’s security concerns in the process.

Questions of crucial importance to Saudi Arabia and Gulf States are:

  • Why did Obama step-back from military action to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities at the last minute, thus abandoning the Syrian people to their fate and leaving the Free Syrian Army he claimed to support high and dry?
  • Why is Obama prepared to alienate trusted American allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, in order to leave the Assad regime in place and fortify US relations with its backers - the Islamic Republic of Iran? What act of good faith has Iran displayed to grant it entry into the community of nations when nothing has changed in-country apart from a fresh face in the number two slot?
  • What drove Obama to threaten use of his veto to halt a bi-partisan Senate bill aimed at imposing more sanctions on Iran on December 19th, especially when great swathes of Congress oppose any cosy detente with Tehran?

Unfortunately, we may never be privy to the realities behind the scenes. Is it even conceivable that the US President’s sympathies could lie with the Muslim Brotherhood and its Shiite ally Iran that’s provided safe haven for Al Qaeda terrorists? That’s almost beyond belief, which is probably why those allegations haven’t hit the headlines.

However, given our region’s vulnerabilities and the chameleon nature of this White House, we must be alert to all possibilities. I trust our intelligence agencies are working behind the scenes to find clarity within the fog of suspicion for the benefit of Arabs and Westerners alike.

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