Secretary of State Colin Powell cautioned President George W. Bush before the Iraq War that he would “own” Iraq and all its problems, after a U.S. military victory. With this power would come what Powell called the Pottery Barn rule: “You break it, you own it.” Unfortunately, President Barack Obama doesn’t have someone capable of offering him such sage advice on his Middle East initiatives.
Since early 2011, the Obama Administration has put the full force of America’s military and diplomatic clout behind leveraging the “Arab Spring” protests into transforming the Middle East into progressive democracies. After eighteen months, friendly dictatorial regimes throughout the region have fallen to gangs of tribal thugs whose only common interests are a visceral hatred of America as the Great Satan and establishing religious theocracies. Undeterred by unpleasant experiences, President Obama now seems determined to commit the full power of the United States to “own” Syria as his crowning foreign policy achievement.
The Arab Spring began in December of 2010 and quickly sparked a wave of demonstrations and protests across the Arab world. To date, rulers have been forced from power in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Mali and Yemen; civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain, Syria and Lebanon; and major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.” President Obama and his supporters still continue to celebrate the movement as:
“It is as if the waters of the Nile, long held back by the Nasserite dam at Aswan — a dam originally built with Soviet aid but refurbished again and again with American assistance — suddenly escaped their banks and were transforming the surrounding desert.”
Nowhere has the desert been more transformed than in Libya, where the United States militarily intervened last year under the guise of a NATO humanitarian mission, which allowed the U.S. Air Force to carpet bomb Western Libya and U.S. Special Forces “boots on the ground” to supervise Colonel Gadhafi’s execution. Seven months after the advertised end of the Civil War, the oil-producing nation remains a basket case as heavily armed tribal militias continue to rape and pillage a “grateful” Libyan people.
Emboldened by his sense of historical accomplishment at implementing a major geo-strategic shift and ready to tackle nation building on a scale that would match the Marshall Plan rebuilding of Europe after World War II; President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently pleaded with Congress to authorize $770 million for “The Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund.” Attacked roundly as a ploy to fund escalation of the Syrian Civil War, the conservative House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops Subcommittee refused to even consider the request.
Syria is controlled by Bashar Hafez al-Assad of the minority Alawite tribe and leads the Syrian Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, made famous in Iraq by Saddam Hussein. The nation is comprised of a variety of religions, ethnicities and sects; but the majority of the population adherents of Sunni Islam. Prior to 2011, Assad maintained rigid authoritative control of this melting pot. But as the demonstrations grew, Saudi Arabia and the United States began funding and training the Sunni rebels and jihadist fighters as a way to bring pressure on Syria’s key ally, Shite Muslim Iran.
On February 12, Al Qaeda military chieftain, Ayman al-Zawahiri, committed to support the popular unrest in Syria as foreign Sunni jihadists warriors from Iraq and North Africa began flooding into Syria to fight the Assad regime. The United States and NATO may have hesitated to support an insurgency that includes jihadists, but Saudi Arabia and other Arab Sheikdoms are actively encouraged former jihadist terrorists to fight in Syria.
As Riyadh and Washington funneled massive amounts of money and weapons into the Syrian rebellion, Iran’s Hezbollah allies in Lebanon began attacking in Northern Lebanon supply lines to destabilize the rebellion. Fearing the loss of their only Mediterranean naval port to an American backed rebel takeover, Russia just sent a combat task force to their Syrian port at Tartus. Led by the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov and bolstered by the Filchenkov and Kunikov helicopter and marine landing ships, the armada demonstrates Russia’s willingness to fight for the al-Assad regime.
Prior to Libya and Syria, the Al Qaeda’s jihadist transnational agenda had limited appeal to the Arab masses. But last year’s massive NATO shipments to the Libyan rebels created so much disorder; weapons were transferred across the Libyan borders to arm Al Qaeda militants in countries such as Algeria, Mali and Palestine. Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon now carry weapons originally supplied to Libyan rebels by the Obama Administration to fight Syrian rebels now supplied by the Obama Administration.
President Obama’s Middle East Spring successfully liberated tens of millions of oppressed people from stable dictatorships, but he will own the reputation as the man who delivered tens millions of people into the iron fist of radical jihadist Islam.
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