Obama's shrinking Mideast influence gives way to Iran's growing clout

Leo Rennert
The fast-paced political earthquakes in the Middle East that we have been witnessing in recent weeks have one common denominator -- President Obama's influence in the region has shrunk to somewhere between a pittance and zero, while Iran's has been bolstered across the board.

By his inability to shape events, Obama created a political vacuum that Iran's theocratic rulers are filling at an accelerating pace.

Five examples should suffice:

EGYPT--The Egyptian revolution has led to a perceptible warming of relations between Cairo and Tehran.  Once a bulwark against Iranian hegemonic ambitions, Egypt now is nurturing a warm detente with Iran -- and the ayatollahs are only too happy to respond in kind.  The Muslim Brotherhood, banned under Mubarak, is positioning itself as a major player in the new Egypt with an agenda bound to please Iran, while leaving Washington out in the cold..

LIBYA--When the "Arab Spring" erupted and spread to Libya, Obama was quick to posture that "Qaddafi must go."  But Obama applied no muscle to make this happen.  Just the opposite.  He insisted on a NATO intervention to be led by Britain, France, Italy and other alliance members, with the U.S. "leading from the rear" in a strictly supportive role.  Qaddafi hasn't gone away.

SAUDI ARABIA--King Abdullah is furous at Obama's quick readiness to throw Mubarak under the bus, leaving the Saudis bereft of their most important partner in resisting Iranian expansionism.

LEBANON--The influence of Hezb'allah, a terrorist Iranian surrogate, has been steadily rising on Obama's watch -- despite a lot of  hollow denunciations  from the White House and the State Department.  In fact, Hezb'allah now is the dominant political force in Lebanon.  Obama's generous investments in trying to build up the Lebanese Army have boomeranged.  

ISRAEL-PALESTINE--Obama's greatest diplomatic disaster.  When Obama came into office , he waded  promptly  into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, claiming that he could succeed in fairly short order where his predecessors struck out.  Tipping the balance against Israel, he insisted that Prime Minister Netanyahu order a total construction freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a precursor to resumption of peace negotiations.  Palestinian  President Abbas had no choice but to insist on the same pre-condition.  But Netanyahu, citing a history of previous negotiations without pre-conditions, wouldn't go along.  Obama belatedly realized that he had blundered and tried to walk back his rash demands on Israel.  That in turn  infruriated Abbas, who rightly felt that Obama had left him twisting in the wind -- and said so publicly in a sharp rebuke to Obama.  Instead of heeding Obama's agendato for a negotiated peace, Abbas left Obama in the lurch and opted instead for getting the UN to recognize unilaterely Palestinian statehood.  

Finally, Abbas completely distanced himself from Obama by cutting a reconciliation deal with Hamas, another terrorist surrogate of Iran.  Riding high, Tehran immediately blessed the Fatah-Hamas "unity' agreement, brokered by Cairo's new power elite, as "the first achievement of the Egyptian revolution."   Hamas immediately vowed there would be ''no recognition, no negotiations'' with Israel with Hamas sharing power. 

Wherever one looks at the Middle East map, Obama's star is dimming and Iran's keeps glowing ever brighter, an Obama legacy bound to haunt Washington for years to come. 
The fast-paced political earthquakes in the Middle East that we have been witnessing in recent weeks have one common denominator -- President Obama's influence in the region has shrunk to somewhere between a pittance and zero, while Iran's has been bolstered across the board.

By his inability to shape events, Obama created a political vacuum that Iran's theocratic rulers are filling at an accelerating pace.

Five examples should suffice:

EGYPT--The Egyptian revolution has led to a perceptible warming of relations between Cairo and Tehran.  Once a bulwark against Iranian hegemonic ambitions, Egypt now is nurturing a warm detente with Iran -- and the ayatollahs are only too happy to respond in kind.  The Muslim Brotherhood, banned under Mubarak, is positioning itself as a major player in the new Egypt with an agenda bound to please Iran, while leaving Washington out in the cold..

LIBYA--When the "Arab Spring" erupted and spread to Libya, Obama was quick to posture that "Qaddafi must go."  But Obama applied no muscle to make this happen.  Just the opposite.  He insisted on a NATO intervention to be led by Britain, France, Italy and other alliance members, with the U.S. "leading from the rear" in a strictly supportive role.  Qaddafi hasn't gone away.

SAUDI ARABIA--King Abdullah is furous at Obama's quick readiness to throw Mubarak under the bus, leaving the Saudis bereft of their most important partner in resisting Iranian expansionism.

LEBANON--The influence of Hezb'allah, a terrorist Iranian surrogate, has been steadily rising on Obama's watch -- despite a lot of  hollow denunciations  from the White House and the State Department.  In fact, Hezb'allah now is the dominant political force in Lebanon.  Obama's generous investments in trying to build up the Lebanese Army have boomeranged.  

ISRAEL-PALESTINE--Obama's greatest diplomatic disaster.  When Obama came into office , he waded  promptly  into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, claiming that he could succeed in fairly short order where his predecessors struck out.  Tipping the balance against Israel, he insisted that Prime Minister Netanyahu order a total construction freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a precursor to resumption of peace negotiations.  Palestinian  President Abbas had no choice but to insist on the same pre-condition.  But Netanyahu, citing a history of previous negotiations without pre-conditions, wouldn't go along.  Obama belatedly realized that he had blundered and tried to walk back his rash demands on Israel.  That in turn  infruriated Abbas, who rightly felt that Obama had left him twisting in the wind -- and said so publicly in a sharp rebuke to Obama.  Instead of heeding Obama's agendato for a negotiated peace, Abbas left Obama in the lurch and opted instead for getting the UN to recognize unilaterely Palestinian statehood.  

Finally, Abbas completely distanced himself from Obama by cutting a reconciliation deal with Hamas, another terrorist surrogate of Iran.  Riding high, Tehran immediately blessed the Fatah-Hamas "unity' agreement, brokered by Cairo's new power elite, as "the first achievement of the Egyptian revolution."   Hamas immediately vowed there would be ''no recognition, no negotiations'' with Israel with Hamas sharing power. 

Wherever one looks at the Middle East map, Obama's star is dimming and Iran's keeps glowing ever brighter, an Obama legacy bound to haunt Washington for years to come.