Tragic Mideast Legacy
By Moshe Arens
over four years Bashar Assad was incapable of putting down the rebellion against
his regime. The most brutal methods including chemical warfare and targeting
civilians were of no avail. Despite the help he received from Iran – from
Hezbollah and units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards – he was unsuccessful.
came Vladimir Putin, using Russian fighter aircraft and long-range missiles,
paying no heed to civilian casualties, and the tide turned in Assad’s favor.
It was a game-changer. Assad’s survival seems assured, at least for the time
did Putin make his move? When it became clear that the power vacuum that existed
in Syria was not going to be filled by America. When he saw that Assad ignored
the “red line” Obama had set against his use of chemical weapons without
leading to American intervention. When the carnage in Syria, creating a human
tragedy of monumental proportions, was allowed to continue as America and the
rest of the world stood by. When Assad saw that Obama had no intention of using
American power, in the air or on the ground, to put an end to the slaughter, he
decided to step in.
abhors a vacuum, and it should have been clear in Washington that they had left
the door open for Putin to establish himself in the Middle East. Obama
completely misread the situation, and in response to the Russian bombing
campaign warned Moscow that it would be sucked into a “quagmire,” and
offered to work with Russia to bring peace to Syria. But at this point Putin did
not need Obama. Russia and Iran were going to settle the matter and shore up
Assad’s rule in Syria.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decided to join them. He’s
putting his bets on what at the moment seems like a winning horse – Russia and
Iran in the Middle East. He sees America abandoning the Middle East, and does
not consider America to be a dependable ally. The nuclear agreement America
reached with Iran has strengthened Iran and made it a dominant power in the
area. If you can’t fight them, join them, Erdogan thinks. Now that Turkey has
become a target for ISIS terrorists, in addition to the battle he is waging
against the Kurds, he may yet regret his decision.
entered the White House eight years ago and his mind regarding the Middle East
was already made up. And he was not about to be confused by the facts as they
flew in his face. Israeli building activity beyond the 1949 armistice lines
including Jerusalem had to cease, and he was going to teach Israel a lesson.
U.S. armed forces would have to be withdrawn from Iraq. He was going to stretch
out his hand to the Islamic countries and acknowledge that Iran, run by the
ayatollahs, should be a dominant power in the area.
result was that Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority now found
it impossible to conduct negotiations with Israel as long as all Israeli
building activity in the territories including Jerusalem had not ceased – a
policy no Israeli government was capable of enforcing. So he turned to the
United Nations and when Obama refused to veto the latest anti-Israel resolution
at the Security Council, won a pyrrhic victory there that can only serve as a
further obstruction to the direct negotiations that can advance the peace
the American withdrawal from Iraq it became the breeding ground for ISIS and
Iran began to dominate that country. Strengthened and enriched by the nuclear
agreement, Iran is making its weight felt throughout the Middle East. It
controls Lebanon and will soon extend its control over Syria.
the worst part of the Middle Eastern legacy Obama is leaving behind are the half
a million civilian casualties of the fighting in Syria and the millions who have
had to escape the area.