CHARLOTTE, NC, September 18, 2014 — Barack Obama and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have a lot in common these days. Their policies have boxed each of them into positions that will be difficult for them to overcome.
By failing to act in the Middle East on multiple occasions, Obama now finds himself uncomfortably attempting to manage a war that isn’t war without using American troops. Or, at a minimum, using as few military personnel as possible and labeling it something else.
When the president wasn’t touting his glorious healthcare initiative, he spent most of his time, not counting golf and fundraisers, bashing George Bush for all of the country’s problems.
Among those was committing soldiers to combat which, in Obama’s mind, is one promise he cannot break now by putting Americans in harm’s way himself.
That leaves Obama with a video game strategy to battle the Islamic State by using air power while trying to create a coalition of Middle Eastern armies to battle ISIS. The president is indelibly mired in politics that he is unable to act in the best interests of the country.
Middle Eastern military forces are incompetent and incapable of fighting ISIS with any success. Furthermore, no amount of Western money or American training can or will change that. Troops who spent years training Iraqis following the 2003 war admit the effort was futile. The rise of ISIS makes that abundantly clear.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry was hop-scotching throughout the Middle East last week seeking alliances with unwilling partners to fight the Islamic State so Obama can keep his promise not to send American soldiers into battle.
By the time Kerry arrived on Capitol Hill to testify before congress, he was convinced he had commitments from several Islamic nations to support the cause. What Kerry failed to grasp is that while his Mideast counterparts were nodding in agreement to help, they were laughing their heads off that he believed them.
The result is a phantom coalition that speaks loudly and carries a small stick.
Similar to Barack Obama’s promises about war, Saudi Arabia has spent so much time and money convincing the world that it is anti-terrorism while spending even more time and money to fund jihad, that they are now victims of their own double-talk.
The Islamic State is on the Saudi’s doorstep and that poses a major threat to the Kingdom. Unlike the United States where ISIS is no immediate threat to attack here, there is urgency in Saudi Arabia to protect itself from the new barbarians at the gate.
If the two most important cities in Islam, Mecca and Medina, fall to ISIS so, too, will the Saudi Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia was created in the middle of the 18th century when Abdul Wahhab unified the tribes of Arabia using an ultra-conservative form of Islam that directly followed the teachings of Muhammad. With the establishment of this extreme version of Islam using Sharia Law, the Saudis have ruled the desert for 270 years.
While ISIS has used beheadings as for horrific propaganda, the Saudis have been chopping off body parts for nearly three centuries. The difference is that ISIS used modern technology to let the world witness their brutality.
When the Saudis claim they are anti-terrorism, what they are really saying is that they are anti-terrorism against Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps no other group in the Middle East is more cowardly and inept at achieving success than the Saudis. In recent decades they have thrived because the riches of oil have allowed them to pay other people to build the infrastructure of their country.
Combining Saudi’s oil wealth with being the historical birthplace of Islam, they have managed to survive through a mirage of political juggling.
Now the Islamic State, which is doing nothing more than using Saudi’s own Wahabbi teachings to re-establish the Caliphate, has the Saudi’s running scared because there is no one left to protect them other than Western allies who refuse to use their own ground forces as a weapon.
The U.S. could easily topple the Islamic State if we used the full force of American military power. ISIS is successful, for the moment at least, because it is the biggest bully in the Middle East region and there is no one to challenge them.
And the reason is because no Middle East country is capable of standing up to ISIS.
Thus ISIS has no one to fear. At least for now.
The Islamic State is an enemy that Barack Obama and John Kerry do not understand. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, understands them all too well. It’s an interesting dilemma for both the president and the Kingdom.
If O’Henry were alive today, it would provide a wealth of material for his ironic short stories.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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