June 4, 2009: The Day Obama Began “Changing” the Middle East
A Message from Steven Toltz:
Well, 2013 has come and gone — goodbye and good riddance! While there were many highs during the year, unfortunately, especially in my neck of the woods, there were a lot of lows. This was not a good year for the prospects of peace in the world.
Usually, it is hard to pinpoint a date when things started to deteriorate. Certainly in the Middle East, there hasn’t been peace for a long, long time. There had been, however, a certain amount or stability in the region until June 4, 2009, when things began to deteriorate in many countries around here.
So, why is June 4, 2009 so important? What happened on that date for me to make the statement above? President Barak Obama, in his first trip out of North America as President, came to Cairo to deliver an address at Cairo University detailing the future relationship of the United States and the Islamic nations of the world. In the 4-1/2 years since that speech, let’s look at what’s happened around the region:
EGYPT – Led by our ally, President Mubarak, Egypt was stable. The military had a great working relationship with the United States and Israel; the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization with tentacles all over the world, was outlawed in Egypt as the government was officially secular. The minority of Coptic Christians felt safe an worshipped in peace. The very small Jewish population (under 100) felt the same way. However, after the United States turned their back on Mubarak, the Arab Spring brought a new president – the head of the Muslim Brotherhood. Within 2 months after Morsi’s election, he took away power from the Parliament and began to enforce Shari ‘a law on the population. Persecution of Copts became the norm and non-Muslims were discouraged from coming to Egypt. The tourism industry, one of Egypt’s largest sources of income, was decimated as Morsi even talked about destroying the pyramids and the Sphinx because they were non-Islamic. Throughout this upheaval, where many Egyptians were killed or jailed during violent protests, the Obama administration backed Morsi. Eventually he was removed from office by the military. General al-Sisi is now the acting head of State, but the United States has decried the coup that took Morsi from power and has stopped military aid to Egypt. And who filled the void? Hello Putin! There are still violent protests happening and citizens being killed. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed, again, since they are affiliated with Al-Qaida and advocate restoring the Islamic Caliphate throughout the world by force, if necessary.
SYRIA – Since the speech in 2009, Syria has been embroiled in a civil war. The problem is that the rebels are made up of many groups – some wanting democracy and some advocating jihad. Some are independent and some are affiliated with Al-Qaida. In the meanwhile, over 130,000 Syrians have died and President Assad, once called “a reformer that we can work with” by both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, has crossed the Obama-drawn “red line” of using chemical weapons on his own people. After negotiating a solution where Syrian would turn over all of their stockpiles to be destroyed, everyone stopped talking about Syria and all is back to normal. Only the truth is that the weapons have not been destroyed by the agreed upon deadline of January 1, 2014, there is evidence that the weapons have been used again and again in Syria, and there are suspicions that many of them have been moved to Lebanon into the hands of Hezbollah. And, by the way, it is estimated that over 40,000 of the dead from the war in Syria were Palestinians.
LEBANON – Lebanon has been out of the news a lot lately but much is happening. Recently, a Hezbollah commander was killed in an explosion. A Sunni group claimed responsibility in response to Hezbollah’s support of Assad by sending fighters to help his troops. Their leader, Sheik Nasrallah, refuses to accept this claim and blames Israel. (I think he also blames Israel for the Lincoln Assassination and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping). In the meanwhile, periodic rockets have been fired from Lebanon into northern Israel drawing retaliatory fire. Anything to take the heat off of them and to draw Israel into their conflict.
JORDAN – While things are relatively quiet with our neighbors to the east, they are having internal troubles with Al-Qaida infiltrators try to agitate the people against the government of King Abdullah. Abdullah has been a very progressive leader and his people have enjoyed a secular government which is not of the liking of Iran and the mujahedeen. Keep your eyes on this situation as it will not take much for it to explode.
Additionally, since the famous speech in Cairo, instability has reigned supreme in Libya, Iraq, and some of the Gulf States as the United States has turned its back on its traditional, secular allies. How it is not obvious to the American security team of John “Liveshot” Kerry, Chuck Hagel, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Valerie Jarrett that the opposition to these secular allies are groups tied to Al-Qaida is unknown to me. To quote that brilliant statesman Ollie Hardy, “Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into”!
So let’s talk about peace. Peace in Israel. Peace with the Palestinians. Secretary of State Kerry is here now on his 10th visit since his appointment last March. While the negotiators of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been meeting regularly, there is not much hope in either Israel or the PA that anything will come of it. The Palestinians keep blaming the problem on Israel – the fact that Israel won’t give in to every one of their demands about land, Jerusalem, prisoners, and the “Right of Return” where they demand that Palestinians displaced between 1948-1950, either by force or voluntary, be allowed to return not just to a State of Palestine but to the State of Israel while Palestine is to be free of all Jews. Israel, on the other hand, blames the constant stalemate on the Palestinians and the lack of a true partner with whom to make peace. As shown by the welcoming back of 26 convicted murderers released by Israel last week as heroes, this shows the mentality of the PA. Their schools still teach hate, don’t teach that Israel even exists, and train their youth to “recover” land that was “stolen” by the Jews. Until there is a Palestinian leadership that recognizes the Jewish nature of the State of Israel and our right to live in peace and security, there is virtually no chance of an agreement. Both sides feel betrayed by Kerry and feel that he is trying to force an agreement to help create an Obama legacy here. Not going to happen.