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Barack Obama and the Middle East Revolutions
Then-US President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia in the Oval Office, Oct. 7, 2011. (Pete Souza/Official White House Photo)

Barack Obama and the Middle East Revolutions

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 26

I was asked a lot about the reason for which former US president Barack Obama was blind in his support for the Arab revolutions; a characteristic of his presidency that almost destroyed his country’s relations with the Arab world. The short answer to this question is that in Obama’s worldview, spreading freedom and democracy is paramount to anything else. Indeed, Obama’s worldview was shaped directly by the writings of scholars like Fareed Zakaria who believe that in order to fight terrorism, the Western world must first understand the reasons for its emergence. According to Zakaria, terrorism occurs due to the absence of democracy and the presence of oppression at the hands of dictatorial regimes. This idea clearly appealed to President Obama, leading him to support the Arab revolutions with full force. Was Zakaria’s idea correct? Have the Arab revolutions succeeded in bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East, thereby eliminating terrorism? The answer here is very obvious. Suffice to look at the Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest winner of these revolutions, which failed miserably in governance in both Tunisia and Egypt. The most ironic part is that this failure could be attributed, in large part, to the strong tailwinds and backing that the movement received from leaders like Obama. In trying to eradicate terrorism through support and containment, Barack Obama may have only helped spread terrorism. In seeking to replace one dictatorship with another, his vision for the Middle East was doomed to fail from the very beginning. – Hassan Al-Mustafa (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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