As the dew of the Arab Spring begins to settle, there are crucial and consequential factors that will affect the future of these countries as well as that of the United States. The defining months and years ahead will prove that nation building, in comparison to dictator ousting, will be far more sensitive and essential to social, cultural and political determinations. The challenge will be in paving the way for secular, non-radical groups and coalitions to serve and meet the needs of ordinary people. Not a Western interpretation of democracy, which does not translate effectively into Middle Eastern politics and societies, but rather a strong secularist front to trump fundamentalist forces in the region.
Instead of appeasing the Iranian regime at the cost of splintering the previously “ironclad” relationship between the United States and Israel, it would have behooved the President to focus on the single element that connects the Arab countries, along with the United States and Israel; namely, combating the spreading radical influences of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The hundreds of demonstrators killed at point blank in Syria, the young Iranians, such as the beautiful and symbolical Neda, shot at as they peacefully marched in the streets, the innocent Israeli citizens, like the Fogel family or the victims of bus and pizza shop suicide bombings together with the thousands of Americans who lost their lives on 9/11 all died at the hands of one common enemy. From its inception, Iran’s ruling clergy has vowed to spread its radical influence across the globe. Today they are manifesting their extremist ideology on three fronts: at home, abroad and through their ongoing nuclear proliferation initiatives.
They have armed Syria with banned weapons helping to fortify and defend the brutal dictatorship of longtime ally Bashar Al Assad. Attempting to win greater influence in the region, Tehran has been exploiting the people’s uprising in Bahrain, possibly costing the Bahraini people their freedom at the cost of entering into a proxy war with rival Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia. A recently developed courtship with Egypt has many fearful of what a potential alliance would mean for the rest of the region. Together with traceable links to Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, Iranian interference in foreign affairs and perpetuation of terrorist activity make them the most dangerous and detrimental force in the world.
Meanwhile, back home the Iranian government continues its reign of terror on its own people, hanging eight men today, including five who were executed in public. Iran is only second to China in having one of the highest rates of yearly executions. Guards and hired militia men were ordered to violently crackdown on protesters in 2009, eliminating the single opportunity the Iranian people had in three decades to loosen the mullah’s chokehold.
Perhaps President Obama was coming off of his career high in the aftermath of ordering the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, believing in his own political infallibility. It was the highlight of his presidency, surely as far as foreign policy is concerned. He demonstrated a strength and conviction that he has hesitated to show, particularly in advancing Middle East policy. In moving forward, this strength and certainty will be necessary in creating new alliances with the future governments of Tunisia and Egypt and possibly those of Yemen and Libya, forming new longstanding relationships without harming already existing friendships.
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