Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fouad Ajami: U.S. is Bystander in Struggle for the Fertile Crescent

This past Sunday's Wall Street Journal opinion page features a column by Professor Fouad Ajami, called "Struggle for the Fertile Crescent."  It places the ongoing civil strife in Syria in context with the overall struggle among Shiites, Sunnis, Alawites and Kurds for control of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.  The main event is the fight between Shiites and Sunnis.  It involves not only the local peoples, but also Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the Sunni side, and Iran and Hezbollah behind the Shiite forces.   Professor Ajami writes:

This is a Sunni-Shiite fight, but religious devotion is not the measure of things. This is a very worldly grab for power and wealth and trade routes, and it is fought without sentimentalism or scruples.
And where is the United States in all this?  Our country plays no role and exerts virtually no influence.  Professor Ajami asserts that this situation results in part from the passive attitude displayed by the Obama Administration in its first term, especially in its failure to leave a residual  U.S. military force in Iraq, and augmented by its failed courtship in 2009-10 of the Assad regime in Syria, in which Senator and Secretary of State-designate John Kerry played a major role.

The piece is illustrated by the brilliant political cartoon by David Klein posted above.

Of course, the Obama Administration would argue that Professor Ajami has it all wrong.  It has been actively engaged in leadership from behind, protecting our diplomats in Libya, and addressing the true threat to peace in the Middle East, the construction of apartments in Israel.

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