Though still traveling in India, WRM has a major essay in the Wall Street Journal on the comprehensive and compounding failure of Obama’s Middle East policies. Here’s a taste:
The next problem is that the Obama administration misread the impact that its chosen strategies would have on relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia—and underestimated just how miserable those two countries can make America’s life in the Middle East if they are sufficiently annoyed [...]
Many Americans don’t understand just how much the Saudis dislike the Brotherhood and the Islamists in Turkey. Not all Islamists are in accord; the Saudis have long considered the Muslim Brotherhood a dangerous rival in the world of Sunni Islam. Prime Minister Erdogan’s obvious hunger to revive Turkey’s glorious Ottoman days when the center of Sunni Islam was in Istanbul is a direct threat to Saudi primacy. That Qatar and its Al Jazeera press poodle enthusiastically backed the Turks and the Egyptians with money, diplomacy and publicity only angered the Saudis more. With America backing this axis—while also failing to heed Saudi warnings about Iran and Syria—Riyadh wanted to undercut rather than support American diplomacy. An alliance with the Egyptian military against Mr. Morsi’s weakening government provided an irresistible opportunity to knock Qatar, the Brotherhood, the Turks and the Americans back on their heels.
This is an important and frequently overlooked dynamic that’s caused Obama no small number of headaches in the region. And it’s a dynamic still very much at play, as Obama considers cutting aid to Egypt in the wake of the military’s crackdown there. “If the U.S. is taking a position that undermines the Egyptian government and empowers the Brotherhood, a lot of us will say: ‘Good luck, you’re on your own.’ There will be a wide regional fallout,” an unnamed senior Arab official was quoted as saying in the Journal today. If Obama chooses wrong, he stands to wreck our alliance with Saudi Arabia without getting anything of value done in Egypt.
WRM’s latest offering is far broader than just this one point, and we do encourage you to go and read the whole thing this Saturday morning. And let us know what you think in the comments.