Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Gap Widens Between US and Arab World

Growing Arab demands for an end to autocratic rule and U.S. regional hegemony have led to calls for a complete reassessment of U.S. policy in the region.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Inter Press Service


Arab public opinion will become increasingly difficult for the United States to favorably influence in light of recent regional unrest, according to experts speaking at a conference organized by the Brookings Institute on Wednesday.

Polling data collected by the panelists from Arab countries as late as November 2009 identified a rising level of dissatisfaction and anger that has been on display in the streets of Tunis, Cairo and Amman and contributed to the downfall of two long-standing dictators.

"This was not about food and jobs," argued Shibley Telhami, a panelist at the event and Anwar Sadat Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. "This was about dignity."

While the Barack Obama administration sent mixed signals in statements during the early stages of the 18-day long Egyptian protests, which witnessed the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule Friday, the White House quickly adapted to what it described as a "fluid situation".

"One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever," Obama said in his speech reacting to Mubarak's abdication of power. "This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied."

Although the Egyptian demonstrations have been largely devoid of religious undertones, the panelists said that the underlying context for many of their grievances can be explained by factors that are similar in their abstract, intangible nature; a force, real or imagined, that is often associated with social movements in the region.

They argued that the Egyptian public's attitudes on a number of variables including life optimism and national identity have, over the past decade, clearly indicated a deep dissatisfaction with their government's perception of their own self-worth that goes far beyond any measurable factors such as economic growth or unemployment.

The Egyptian economy has witnessed a sustained rise in GDP over the past five years, but even so, it "didn't translate into optimism", argued executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies Dalia Mogahed.

As the U.S. government attempts to make sense of the revolutionary fallout throughout the region, experts at the conference emphasized that any transition of power, which will undoubtedly include elected officials sympathetic to popular sentiments, will not be as willing a diplomatic partner with the United States as before demonstrations began.

The U.S. will find it difficult to shape the suffering that fueled Egypt's demonstrators simply by raising and lowering levels of non-discretionary and military aid or by emphasizing the strategic importance of past diplomatic relations, Mogahed argued.

"The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt," Obama said. "We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary – and asked for – to pursue a credible transition to a democracy."

"The U.S. and our allies must focus our efforts on helping to create the necessary conditions for a transition to take place," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in a statement Friday.

Despite any good intentions, the panelists argued, it is in the U.S.'s interests to remain on the sidelines. "The more this becomes about America, the worse it becomes," Telhami warned. "We're not in a position to engineer an outcome."

He pointed to the Iranian presidential elections in 2009 as an example of how framing the narrative of the region's pro- democracy movements in a fashion that emphasizes the United States' involvement or perspective has the likely effect of undermining the viability of genuine reform.

Both Mogahed and Telhami agreed that attempts to include the United States in any descriptive narrative of the forces behind inspiring citizens to demand reforms, or enabling government preemption of those reforms, will be inconsequential if not antithetical to the favorability of the United States in the consciousness of Arab public opinion.

"We have said from the beginning, that future of Egypt will be determined by Egyptian people," said Vice President Joseph Biden at a lecture at the University of Louisville Friday.

However, at a conference held Thursday on Capitol Hill, Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, argued that U.S. weight in the region could not be discounted.

"Everyone in Egypt believes we have influence," he said, adding that statements by the Obama administration "play[ed] into the psychology" of this belief.

The looming uncertainty of the extent of reformists' aspirations and their growing sense of independence from autocratic rule and U.S. regional hegemony has induced many to call for a complete reassessment of U.S. policy in the region.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share