Former US official warns of a Middle East meltdown

Ali Khedery is a Dubai-based consultant, and former advisor to 5 American ambassadors to Iraq. He has an article in Politico Magazine that attacks President Obama's "malignant neglect" of the Middle East and strenuously warns of "another 9/11" coming out of a region where sectarianism and extremism have taken over.

The principal danger that the United States faces across the Middle East today is not these groups, however: It’s the perception that we are in retreat and that we will not forcefully move to defend ourselves nor our allies. U.S. foreign policy is the subject of ridicule by our allies and the butt of jokes by increasingly confident foes who, like Syria’s Assad, openly wage genocide with impunity, thereby shredding regional stability by fueling hatreds that are threatening to shatter every country in the area along ethno-sectarian lines.

This critically dangerous perception has been fueled by four American missteps: 1) imposing “red lines” on Assad’s use of chemical weapons and not following through with any meaningful response, essentially exposing our bark as worse than our bite; 2) launching the catastrophic war in Iraq only to prematurely “end” it while repeatedly declaring that Iraq is “peaceful, stable and self-reliant” and arming Maliki with advanced American munitions in the face of his blatantly sectarian, divisive and pro-Iranian stance; 3) intervening in Libya to topple Muammar al-Qaddafi without having learned the lessons of Saddam’s removal in 2003—that what happens the day after is critical—eventually resulting in the death of Amb. Christopher Stevens; and 4) not asserting forcefully enough that the United States will support its regional allies in every reasonable way to curtail Iran’s destabilizing regional hegemonic ambitions and its drive toward developing a nuclear weapon.

The Middle East today is on the precipice of the abyss of sectarianism and militant radicalism—phenomena that have already begun to erase the borders created a century ago with the Sykes-Picot Agreement. To contain these cancers, prevent a second 9/11 and salvage America’s strategic interests, comprehensive reorientation and bold reforms are needed immediately.

You can’t hide from the Middle East any longer, Mr. President. You may not be interested in its troubles, but they are certainly interested in you.

Khedery lists 5 things the president can do "to shore up America’s vital national security interests across the Middle East." Among them, is "Recognize what has worked and - more importantly - what hasn't." and identifying friends and supporting them while identifying enemies and opposing them.

The drift in American policy has caused our friends to look to China and Russia for strategic support while our enemies have filled the void caused by our lack of leadership. The rise of the Islamic State is a direct result of the president's lack of coherent strategu in the region, and the rise of the extremists all over the Middle East can be laid at the president's feet as well.

Khedery is hardly a partisan and his warning about at total meltdown in the Middle East should be taken to heart.

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