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Obama and the Sunni-Shiite War By FOUAD AJAMI

By   /   January 10, 2014  /   No Comments

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Obama and the Sunni-Shiite War

The U.S. tilt to Iran is upsetting allies and disrupting the Middle East.

Jan. 9, 2014 
The ground burns in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Borders are being contested, and militant Islamists have all but overwhelmed secular authorities. Yet America’s chief diplomat, Secretary of State John Kerry, was in the neighborhood this week, for the 10th time, on an expedition to Israel and the Palestinian territories. There was no sudden urgency to the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians, nor had an opening presented itself for serious negotiations. Israel’s attention was focused, as it had to be, on the large menace of Iran and its nuclear drive, and the Palestinians remained mired in their own squabbles.It was the practice of so many years that Arabs deployed what pressure they could exert on the United States on behalf of the Palestinians. No longer. It is the struggle for Syria, and the Iranian bid for primacy in the Fertile Crescent, that engage the Arabs. This “shuttle diplomacy” of our secretary of state, if anything, is evidence of the retreat of American power.

…..Washington is keen to conciliate Iran. Secretary Kerry has proposed a role for the Iranians in negotiations over Syria—even as Iranian forces and proxies are busy battering what is left of that country. Beirut once mattered to the U.S., but we have left it to the reign of Hezbollah, and what help comes to Lebanese moderates is now offered by Saudi Arabia and France.

A cautionary note: Iran and the Fertile Crescent are not—and by a long shot—a fair reflection of the demography of Islam. The weight of Islam is in the Sunni states. If we opt for an alliance with Iran and its satraps, we should do so in the full knowledge that our choice places us as odds with the vast majority of the Islamic world. Already, our failure to come to the support of the Syrian rebellion has eroded so much of our standing among Muslim Sunnis, in the Arab world and beyond. Five years ago in Cairo, a citadel of Sunni Islam, Mr. Obama called for a new policy of engagement with the Islamic world. That seems more like light years away.

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