America's internal division is a victory for its enemies in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia and the US have a tempestuous relationship. (Photo by Shutterstock).

With the emergence of Barack Hussein Obama in the Senate and after his presidential election win in 2009, the conflict over US foreign policy deepened. Ahmad Abdel-Rahman writes about how US foreign policy has changed over time.

Since 2009, US foreign policy has changed regarding its partnerships with adversaries in the Middle East. This has developed gradually since the Iraq war under the administration of President George Bush, when the country was divided over the Iraqi invasion. A majority supported the Bush administration in overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime but there were opponents to the war, such as former US Secretary of State, John Kerry.

Iran played on the internal division the potential war created to thwart the policy of empowering pro-Western Iraq and empowering pro-Tehran militias. Now observers see a link between the internal situation of the US and the position of the anti-American forces externally, especially in the Middle East. 

The Obama administration reversed the policy of the previous administration and launched the project of the Iranian agreement and partnership with the Islamists. For seven years, the Republican bloc strongly opposed this policy and prevented it passing in Congress.. Although political divisions over foreign issues are common in the US, these divisions intensified during the Vietnam War, but mainly with the emergence of Obama in the Senate and after his election as president. As a result, the conflict over US foreign policy deepened in an unprecedented way.

What has changed?

Until the Obama administration in 2009, American divisions over foreign policy and wars were not unsurmountable. Republicans and Democrats disagreed, but only on a few issues that did not divide the country. Moreover, at the top of the response to the September 11 attacks, the country united under Bush's leadership in a way that frightened the rogue powers in the Middle East.

However, when Obama chose to partner with radical forces in the Middle East to soften their positions, the door opened to deep internal disagreement over foreign policy to an extent that did not exist before. Democrats and Republicans had different opinions on most foreign policy issues, but they did not enter into an internal war until 2009.

The nuclear deal with Iran

The nuclear agreement with Iran, signed in July 2015, sparked a confrontation between the Obama administration and the conservative bloc, especially pro-Israeli evangelicals. The confrontation has continued.

Another enduring dispute arose between the Obama administration and the opposition over the former's support for radical Islamists during the so-called Arab Spring, particularly after the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2011. Congress responded by opening investigations into the terrorist attack, where the ambassador, among others, were killed., The Obama administration responded by accelerating talks with Iran, signing the agreement, and continuing the partnership with the Islamists in the region.

The divisions between the Obama administration's approach to foreign policy and opponents to it were also magnified in Egypt when many Egyptians opposed the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in the summer of 2013.

The division within America has benefitted radical forces in the Middle East, helping them to implement their agenda and, if necessary, wage wars against their opponents in the Middle East, and even against American interests. Observers and analysts have noticed that Iran and its allies on the one hand, and the Islamic militias on the other, started escalating their movements in the region at least 10 years ago.

More dangerous split

After the 2016 presidential election campaign, the region's extremists became more hostile towards the US. The internal divide in the US between President Obama and Hillary Clinton's supporters, and Donald Trump's supporters widened.

Then, the Obama-Clinton grouping accused Donald Trump of "working in the interests of Russia", an accusation that reportedly did not have any evidence. To counter this, Trump accused his opponents of using the deep state to spy on him so that he could not reach the White House.

With Trump's entry into the Oval Office in January 2017, the conflict between the FBI and the White House intensified and culminated with the Robert Mueller investigations. Then there were also the impeachment attempts against Trump. Trump continued his policy of confrontation with Iran for four years. Iran, however, did not believe that Trump would remain in power for long.

Influence in the Middle East

Journalists and media professionals in the Middle East say that America is still effective and influential in the region. They also say that America is the largest and strongest global power in the Middle East, and the strongest militarily.

Indeed, US-Middle East relations continue as before, with the movement of envoys, the succession of meetings and summits, the Fifth Naval Fleet based in Bahrain and the sending of aid to the region. There is also the imposition of sanctions on Iran.

However, since 2020, there has been an undeclared and irregular conflict in the US. This conflict is ongoing. This worries the leaders of partner and allied countries in the Middle East, and most importantly encourages America's opponents.

Perhaps these internal conflicts convinced Tehran, Iran's capital, and its militias as well as Islamist militias, that America's division would prevent it from confronting them. This view may be correct to some extent. However, the American people have proven in the past, especially after September 11, that they can resolve any division, especially if it is existential.

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Sunday, 26 March 2023