Friday, April 09, 2010

As American Power Declines under President Obama, Afghanistan's Kharzai Courts Iran

Why has Afghani President Hamid Kharzai recently taken public anti-American and anti-NATO stands, even to the point of hinting that he might join the Taliban in a campaign of national resistance? Fouad Ajami (photo right), professor at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, is not surprised. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Professor Ajami explains that President Kharzai is purposefully distancing himself from the United States because the Islamic world has come to a consensus that the Obama Administration is engaged in a discernible retreat in the Middle East. Those who hope to survive in the wake of that retreat are doing whatever they need to do in order to curry favor with the rising power in the region, Iran.

Thus President Kharzai, whose father was murdered by the Taliban, threatens to join with the Taliban to expel the foreign forces who in fact are propping up his corrupt regime.

In an eerily parallel diplomatic development, in December, at the prompting of Saudi Arabia, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited Damascus, to cozy up to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who not only heads Iran's ally and client state, but also is believed to be behind the 2005 assassination of Hariri's brother, the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. That assassination led to the creation of an anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian alliance in Lebanese politics, which served as a counter force to the growing military and political power of the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah movement. Syrian control over Lebanese affairs was widely perceived to be in decline.

However, there was a different U.S. President in 2005. Now, seeing how the Obama Administration undercuts its regional allies, such as Israel, Prime Minister Saad Hariri is willing to make peace and common cause with his brother's murderers, just as Afghani President Kharzai is threatening to ally with his father's murderers. Prime Minister Hariri is due to make a second trip to Damascus this month, at which new treaties between Syria and Lebanon will be signed. So much for the decline of Syrian influence in Lebanon.

Although not mentioned by Professor Ajami, can anyone doubt that the recent reapproachment of Turkey to Iran, at the expense of what once was a firm Turkish-Israeli relationship, is also a byproduct of the perceived weakening of American resolve in the Middle East?

However, the Obama Administration is not without foreign policy achievements. Yesterday the President signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. One can imagine how that additional sign of decreasing American military power and superiority is perceived in the Middle East and among the former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe.

And earlier in the week, Obama Administration counterterrorism officials announced that all references to Islamic extremism and radical Islam will be removed from the National Security Strategy, the central document outlining American national security policy. The current version of that document, written during the George W. Bush Administration, states, "The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century." The revised document is intended to emphasize that the United States does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terror, the Administration officials explained.

Apparently, the Obama Administration feels that the great ideological struggle of the 21st century is not against militant Islamic radicalism, but rather against Jews building apartments in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.


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