Latest update: September 28th, 2012
If one listened to Obama’s speech, one would think that this was the man who gave strong support to the opposition in Iran; the moderate democratic forces struggling in Lebanon and Egypt (most U.S.-backed programs to help organize politically in Egypt went to the Muslim Brotherhood); and backed those fighting for a Syria that isn’t an Islamist dictatorship.
Not at all. He has done virtually nothing for those forces. Nor has his government really done anything material to protect the rights of women and Christians in the Middle East. When he says, “Those are the men and women that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support,” it has no relationship with reality.
For example, Obama said:
Together, we must stand with those Syrians who believe in a different vision – a Syria that is united and inclusive; where children don’t need to fear their own government, and all Syrians have a say in how they are governed – Sunnis and Alawites; Kurds and Christians. That is what America stands for; that is the outcome that we will work for.
Meanwhile, his government is overseeing programs that distribute arms to either the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists. It organized a Syrian opposition council dominated by the Brotherhood. It is guaranteeing a Syria in which Alawites and Christians will be massacred; in which Kurds will face an assault on their region; and which will be neither united, inclusive, or non-scary for children.
As I have said, there are many fine sentiments expressed on Iran, Israel-Palestinian issues, economic development, minority rights, condemning insults to all religions equally, and defending America’s freedom of speech. Yet these points have no relationship with what this president has actually done in the Middle East. For example, he has not made a single effective action, backed by real power and pressure, to defend the rights of women or Christians, including in Iraq and Afghanistan where the United States had military forces and potentially effective influence.
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About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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