Obama speech signal US decline in Middle East

President Obama’s speech before the UN General Assembly was politely received. Everyone knew what he was going to say, and say it he did warily.

The US intention to veto Palestinians bid to full UN membership surprised no one. Obama, in spite of a last ditch effort to make Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to shrink back in advancing his call for the world body’s recognition of the state of Palestine, failed completely. In broadly parsing Obama’s words, his speech had the rock glint of a harsh diet for Palestinian statehood; he mentioned neither Israel’s illegal land grabbing on the West Bank, settlement expansion of Jewish colonists, everyday assaults on Palestinian human rights, as well as the usual cruel and exacting punishment by the IDF against Palestinians, so on. In all, he endorsed in substance and form prime minister ‘Bibi’ Netenyahu’s ultra nationalist agenda.

In fact, France’s Nicholas Sarkosy upstaged him by proposing an upgrade of Palestine’s status short of complete membership at the UN. The French president broke ranks with the US by his call: Palestine’s status would allow it full access to UN conventions and treaties, thereby enabling it to pursue Israel before the International Court of Justice as well as other venues for violations of international law and conventions.

Abbas’ application for full UN membership is a defeat for the US and of course Israel. The PA’s plan may not completely achieve its objective; yet it can walk away with the enhanced status Sarkosy was calling for. In any case, the Palestinian cause has marked a significant step forward.

On the other hand, look at the weakened position of the US in the Middle East: Israel’s deteriorating relations with Turkey, a strong US and NATO ally, show signs of stress in overall American influence in the region; the Zionist state’s ‘problems’ with Egypt after the fall of Mubarak is fraught with hidden diplomatic and strategic mine fields; it might not come as a surprise that the new Egypt will soften its stand as Turkey did, with Iran; and Israel’s lack of foresight is stressing out the tight American Saudi reality.

As GuamDiary keeps noting, Israel is a domestic and presidential election issue; it holds any US administration hostage. The longer the US remains a prisoner to its no holds bared support of Israel, the greater its fall from playing a pivotal role in the Middle East. The lack of movement by Israel on a two state solution will increase its own instability which in the shorter run will lead to war with its neighbours, a war, like its war in Lebanon, that shall bring defeat.

Palestinians may be hopeful but they remain on the ‘qui vive’ living as they do under 44 years of a brutal Israeli occupation. Israel’s future looks dark. And the US will wear uncomfortably its decline and the stupidity of continuing a failed policy concerning the agony of the Isreali Palestinian divide.

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