Phares: Obama Administration Has Bungled Mideast Foreign Policy

Friday, 10 Aug 2012 10:09 AM

By Henry J. Reske and John Bachman

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The record of the Obama administration in the Mideast is littered with missed and bungled opportunities to promote democracy and its foreign policy is in need of serious change, terrorism expert Dr. Walid Phares tells Newsmax.TV.

“We need to have a very serious change in foreign policy in Washington, D.C. that is where everything has to begin,” the noted author said. “With the current policies that we’ve experienced over the past three to four years we’ve had a rise in the jihadi movement. We’ve had in Iran for example a botched opportunity for the president and the administration and the United States in general to side with the Iranian people in June of 2009 against the Ayatollah.

“We missed that opportunity and we see also that across North Africa instead of seeing civil society arising we see the Muslim Brotherhood. So the real problem really is in our foreign policy. We need to review it and we need to change it and adapt it to more American, pro-Democracy posture in the Mideast.”

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Phares, who also advises the anti-terrorism caucus in Congress as well as members of the European parliament, said that with elections looming President Barack Obama is unlikely to take a more active role in the Syrian conflict.

“We know all well here that a sitting president will not risk a full-fledged campaign a la Libya as we did in Libya in a few weeks from the election if that administration doesn’t know who the allies are on the ground and if there’s no guarantee of the success,” he said. “They’re supposed to wage a campaign today against the Syrian regime the response will come from the Syrian regime, from Hezbollah, from the Iranian regime and not just in Syria, also in the Gulf.

“This is the price of being very late dealing with this tyrant. And besides, if you want to intervene in Syria or do no-fly zones, this is basically a confrontation with the Iranians. We don’t have a plan. The administration doesn’t have a plan for Iran, let alone for Syria. So I think nothing serious is going to come out of Washington before November 6 or 7.”

Ideally, Phares said Syrian President Bashar al Assad would have been replaced with “Democracy forces, the secular forces that were formed in Syria, the minorities, women.

“Unfortunately because of our mistakes in handling Syria all we can see right now is the interplay between Assad on the one hand and his Iranian allies or the Muslim Brotherhood and their Salafist … allies on the other hand,” he said. “The democracy forces unfortunately in the Syrian spring are being weakened and that is not very helpful for future Syria.”

On other topics, Phares said:

-The recent air raids in the Sinai Peninsula launched by the Egyptian Military against Islamist militants, sparked by an attack that killed 16 Egyptian border guards could lead to a “much wider confrontation between the two parties.”

- The situation in the Sinai could also lead to greater instability in the Middle East. “I mean, the simple idea here is that the Jihadist network in the Sinai are fed ideologically and politically by the Islamist networks inside Egypt, across Egypt. And we have evidence for that coordination between the two parties. There would be a drive to try to weaken the Egyptian military and those incidents are designed by nature to create incidents between Israel and the Egyptian military, to create a backdrop for a collapse of the Camp David Agreement.”

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