Barack Obama has won re-election as President of the United States, according to all the projections of the Nov. 6 vote – albeit ahead of the final count of ballots. The prospect of another four years of Obama in the White House fills some Middle East nations, including the Persian Gulf and Israel, with trepidation.
They envisage a foreign policy that continues to focus on hitching US influence in the Muslim world – Sunni and Shiite alike – on to a wagon led by Iran as the first Islamic Shite Muslim nuclear power and the sponsorship of Muslim Brotherhood rule of Sunni Arab nations.
For Israel, this policy translates bleakly into American backing for the two most forbidding ideological foes it has faced in all its 63 years: Iran, whose leaders call openly for Israel’s extinction – even from the UN platform – although this is achievable only by nuclear aggression; and the hostile Muslim Brotherhood.
Only four days ago, senior Israeli Defense Ministry official Amos Gilead called the Brotherhood-ruled Egyptian government “a terrible dictatorship.” After years of close ties with Egyptian rulers and military chiefs, Gilead said: “There is no official contact between the top tiers of Egyptian and Israeli government, and I don’t think there will be.”
According to debkafile’s military and intelligence sources, Gilead offered a glimpse of a grimmer prospect which Israeli leaders are discussing behind close doors: They fear that the second Obama term will usher in a nuclear-armed Shiite Iran which will quickly reach out to the Sunni Muslim Brothers, starting with Egypt, for a joint bid to terminate the life of the Jewish state.
Before dismissing this scenario as paranoid hyperbole, it is worth taking a look at an opinion poll conducted in Egypt in late August of this year by the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Institute. It aimed at canvassing popular ratings of Iran after the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Cairo.
Stanley Greenberg, who is close to Democratic Party leaders, was recently hired by Israel’s Labor Party as senior campaign strategist for the Jan. 22, 2013 election.
This American pollster found that 61 percent of the Egyptians surveyed approved of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, compared with 30 percent who disapproved. In 2009, the comparable figures were 40 percent for and 34 percent against a nuclear Iran.
The same poll in 2012 found 65 percent of Egyptians in favor of resuming the long-severed diplomatic ties with Tehran, as against 30 who were against.
The undisguised discord between Barack Obama and Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu is usually presented as sparked by their falling-out over military action for preempting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This is both simplistic and misleading. Their differences are far broader in scope: Netanyahu and most other Israeli leaders contest Obama's signature Middle East objective of bringing the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya – and ultimately Syria – by presenting the MB as a moderate movement with whom America can do business and conduct a balanced Middle East policy.
This goal actuated the Arab Revolt – or Spring – which erupted in December 2010. It has condemned Israel to an ever-tightening Islamist noose around its borders with worse to come: The last gap will be filled after the Brothers attain power in Damascus and ultimately set their sights on Jordan as the springboard to Saudi Arabia.
Whenever he is confronted with this allegation, Obama answers undeniably that he has done more than any American president for Israel’s security and raised US-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation to an unmatched level.
This cannot be gainsaid, but in the view of debkafile’s military and intelligence experts, it is only one aspect of the general picture: While bolstering Israel militarily, the US president has also bolstered its worst Middle East enemies and enhanced their ability to strike at the foundations of Israel’s national security. The emergence of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic, which Israel may soon despair of thwarting, would nullify all the military or intelligence assistance the Obama administration has rendered the Jewish state to guarantee its survival.
No Israeli leader, political or military, is willing to go further than Amos Gilead and publicly admit that Israel is laboring under a dual compulsion; It is being forced to contemplate active measures for extinguishing Iran’s nuclear program while at the same time standing ready to challenge Egypt over Sinai which has swung out of Cairo’s control and deteriorated into a lawless terrorist springboard against both countries.