Obama's legacy - TAHA KILINÇ

Obama's legacy

“I came to Cairo in search of a fresh relationship based upon mutual interest and mutual respect and based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.”

The U.S's newly appointed President Barack Hussein Obama said this in his speech in Cairo University during his first Egypt visit on June 4, 2009. Obama, who handed his seat over to Donald Trump after completing his eight years in presidency, had left behind a political legacy that hasn't the least made new starts between the U.S. and the Muslim world but instead shows that even the existing connections are destroyed.

The American administration, which turned the Arab Spring into a chain of civil wars because of its indecisive and contradictory steps, experienced the most problematic period with its traditional Muslim allies in the region, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Misguiding Turkey several times in many issues (actually, misleading would be the term to use), the U.S. developed an insecure relation with Saudi Arabia that was up and down.

The issue that made a mark in the Obama period and ensured the crisis deepened was undoubtedly the Syrian fiasco. Although it said the opposite but supported the Bashar Assad regime and constantly contradicted itself, the U.S. finally created the base for a terror organization like Daesh and probably helped found it too.

The American administration, which openly cheered the coup attempt in Turkey, managed to turn the crises in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

The Obama administration, giving hope to the Muslim world from the first day of his presidency because of his Muslim roots, was a period in which Islamophobia was on a rise in both the U.S. and the whole world. Thus, the hope that a Muslim president in the White House would ensure that Muslims were treated better failed with this.

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When we look at the issue from the aspect of the Middle East and Muslim world, the most important outcome of the political legacy of Barrack Hussein Obama is, Iran becoming (or actually being made to be) an effective actor to such an extent for the first time in recent history. The U.S., which has unchained Tehran through the nuclear agreement, did not stand back from acting with Iran directly in Iraq and indirectly in Afghanistan. Obama and his team, which completely surrendered to Iran's priorities in the Syrian issue, has left an Iran that can fool around as it pleases, and enforce its sectarian politics in this geography.

History will thoroughly give place to Obama as an effective figure in the third political rise of Shiism. Maybe, the statements, “Obama is fulfilling the codes of the name Hussein,” jokingly made by some commentators will actually be taken seriously by future historians.

This heated relation the Obama administration had with Iran did make Saudi Arabia and Israel angry. As a result, these two countries that normally wouldn't politically come side by side, came closer to each other as they had a mutual enemy. The U.S.'s unbalanced Iran policies has direct effects on Turkey and Saudi Arabia forming alliances with Israel.

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There is a perception that the U.S. is the dominant international power in the Middle East. It is believed that the U.S. is the “real foreign element” with its military bases and forces in this region and many others. Or maybe we should be saying “it was believed.” Because the Barack Obama period showed that the U.S.'s power effect and sanction power hangs on to this region by a thread of hair.

Now there is a Middle East in which Russia is quick to fill in any gap created by the weakness the U.S. displays. Obama did not only activate Iran in the region but also gave Russia an area (which is not proportional with its power) to maneuver freely. The Putin government is busy with trying to fill in the vacuum created by the U.S. I wrote about Libya as a very important example for this in my last article.

The last period's zig-zagged and conflicting nature will be the problems on hand for Donald Trump, who took over from Obama. Trump's attitude toward the credits given to Iran, the nature of the relations that are to be developed with Russia in the field, whether to go in a “strategic alliance” phase with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the attitude to be adopted against the Israel-Palestine issue and the support given to terrorism in the region, will all be watched carefully. Although it wouldn't be easy to make coherent forecasts about this chaotic picture, the Muslim world shouldn't expect much from the new U.S. administration, and thus shouldn't dream. The vain hopes the Muslim-origin Obama pumped had very heavy consequences. Let's prepare for winter, and consider ourselves lucky if we get summer.


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