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The Middle East in disarray

Dec 12,2016 - Last updated at Dec 12,2016

The rebels’ last stand in Aleppo and the likely victory of the Russian-backed forces may usher a new era in the Middle East and a new balance of power.

Perhaps, the Middle East will be in disarray and it is a mind-boggling that the United States has allowed all of that to happen.

US President Barack Obama’s policy of inaction in the face of Russia’s assertive foreign policy contributed in no small measure to the worsening situation in Syria.

To be sure “America’s moment in the Middle East” is fast coming to an end.

Gone are the days when America’s position or red lines are respected.

With the end of the Cold War, leaders of the Middle East were aware that war or peace in the Middle East could not be thought of without a nod from Washington. And yet, it seems that America’s power has become less feared and less respected.

Evidently, even US’ traditional allies in the Middle East believe that it lost the will to engage positively to assure stability in this part of the world.

The Arab Spring upended the status quo in the Middle East and posed new questions that the Obama administration has yet to answer. 

More often than not, the Obama administration had to weigh stability versus democratic values. In the process, Obama has failed to articulate a clear strategy vis-à-vis the Middle East.

It is clear that Obama failed to understand the gravity of the situation in the Middle East. Unwisely, he alienated America’s allies and appeased America’s opponents. 

As a result, Iran and Russia felt emboldened to act in the manner they did. 

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies realised that Obama’s words do not carry weight and opted for a scorched earth policy in Aleppo.

One can say that the “American moment” has been undermined by spoilers (Russia and Iran). Obviously, both Russia and Iran have the upper hand in Syria, leaving America to accept any political solution, even at the expense of the moderate rebels who were terribly let down by Washington. 

As a result, all spokespersons for the Syrian revolution ascribed the deteriorating situation in Aleppo to Obama’s hesitancy and his blatant refusal to arm rebels with weapons that could have made a difference on the battlefield.

Russia and its allies exploited the situation by focusing on the rebels and leaving Daesh for the Americans to deal with. 

In brief, the Middle East is undergoing radical changes and soon it will be clear that this has become America’s Suez moment. Like Britain after Suez, America may lose its relevancy. 

Not long ago, Henry Kissinger said: “I do not have any specific nightmares, but I could imaging a growing irrelevancy of the United States in the region.”

That being said, the US’ twilight makes the Middle East stability far from certain.

Therefore, Middle Eastern countries will face a new reality where it is no longer possible to call on America whenever a crisis erupts.

It remains to be seen if President Donald Trump will adopt a new strategy that could make a difference, but it seems that any effort will be a day late and a dollar short.

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