Syria, Other Middle East Nations Take Advantage Of Obama Weakness


If your foreign policy is one of weakness, of inattention, of fantasy, what do you think will happen?

(Washington Post) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is taking advantage of the rift between Russia and the United States over Ukraine to press ahead with plans to crush the rebellion against his rule and secure his reelection for another seven-year term, unencumbered by pressure to compromise with his opponents.

The collapse last month of peace talks in Geneva, jointly sponsored by Russia and the United States, had already eroded the slim prospects that a negotiated settlement to the Syrian war might be possible. With backers of the peace process now at odds over the outcome of the popular uprising in Ukraine, Assad feels newly confident that his efforts to restore his government’s authority won’t be met soon with any significant challenge from the international community, according to analysts and people familiar with the thinking of the regime.

Well, in Obama’s defense, Assad was going to take advantage no matter what. Of course, part of that is because Obama is too weak to be dictating to Syria what they should do. But, wait, it gets better!

The Syrian war is only one of a number of contentious issues in the Middle East that expose the vulnerability of U.S. interests to a revival of Cold War-era tensions with Russia such as those that have surfaced in Ukraine. The nuclear accord with Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, both of which rank higher on the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda than Syria, are also dependent to an extent on Moscow’s cooperation.

Because Obama is weak internationally. Pixie dust doesn’t work. Finger wagging and speeches about the “international community” do not work. Think Iran isn’t watching? The Palestinian Authority?

In a less-noted development in recent months, newly ambivalent U.S. allies such as Egypt and Iraq have been quietly concluding significant arms deals with Moscow, largely spurred by concerns that the Obama administration’s reluctance to become embroiled in the messy outcomes of the Arab Spring means that Washington can no longer be counted on as a reliable source of support.

Most Arab countries have remained silent on the Ukraine crisis, and some could well move further into Russia’s orbit should Washington be seen to be wavering, said Theodore Karasik of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

So we could easily lose those nations who were confederates of the U.S.

An Assad adviser has blown off the call for international monitoring in Syria this week regarding elections.

“Putin sees the world as one big chessboard on which he can play two or three moves at the same time. I am not sure the West can do that,” he said. “I don’t see the Russians backing off their support for Assad, and I think Assad will continue to do what he has always wanted to do, which is to win militarily.”

This is the part where Obama is only thinking in the here and now. He doesn’t seem to be able to focus on multiple issues, so he bounces from subject to subject, pivots for a few, then jumps away. Certainly, not everything can be blamed on Obama’s lackadaisical, tepid, wobbly foreign policy, as nations will often do things regardless of what other countries and leaders say. However, those same Obama qualities lead them to act sooner, to blow off and statements from the US, and move them away from the U.S.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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