Obama’s Hypocrisy and Double Standards in the Middle East
Magid Shihade, a professor in international relations at West Bank’s Birzeit University and author of Not a Soccer Game: Colonialism and Conflict Among Palestinians in Israel (Syracuse University Press, 2011), analyzes the repercussions of Osama Bin Laden’s death in the Middle East.
CartaCapital: What sort of impact could the death of Bin Laden have on the ‘’Arab Spring’’?
Magid Shihade: Many have argued that the reason for this American act or the news about it was to divert attention from the Arab Revolution, and an attempt to restart the discourse of the "war on terror," that seemed to be losing interest in the region due to the events taking place in the Arab world. Numerous people in the Middle East see this American act as an attempt to overshadow the Arab revolutions that started to cast a shadow on the news about "terror," and seemed to bring an end to the U.S. policies in the region following 9/11.
CC: How does the image of Barack Obama change in the Middle East with the killing of Bin Laden?
MS: For many observers in the Middle East, Obama's image has deteriorated some time ago. This is mainly due to the fact that by supporting Israel he seems to be acting as past U.S. presidents. He has shown hypocrisy, double standards in the reaction to the different revolutions in the region. Intervening in Libya is seen as counter revolutionary rather than what it appears. Non-intervention in Bahrain, on the other hand, shows the double standards and self-interest in U.S. policies. To authorize the killing of Bin Laden and declaring that the "war on terror" is continuing despite that showed to many people that Obama, like his predecessor, is not interested in changing U.S. policy in the Middle East.
CC: How do you perceive the operation that killed Bin Laden?
MS: By giving the green light for the operation that ended with the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Obama administration triggered different reactions. One reaction was that of support and satisfaction for the result. Celebrations in the United States, and statements of support from Europe and elsewhere followed. Another reaction was that of doubt and condemnation. Condemnation for the way Bin Laden was dealt with, and how his body was thrown in the Arabian Sea. Some still doubt that Bin Laden was killed. They wonder why his body was not shown to experts, and why the compound where he lived was bombed and burned.
CC: While Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, condemned the U.S. operation that killed Bin Laden, a spokesperson of the Palestinian Authority said it was ''food for the cause of peace.'' How should we interpret these opposing views when Hamas and Fatah have reconciled?
MS: Definitely Haniyeh is fueling religious sentiments in the region, while Fatah is playing to the ear of the West, whose funding for the Palestinian Authority is central.
CC: Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu does not accept Hamas in an eventual Palestinian government. Is Palestinian unity a possibility?
MS: Israel will continue to use all sorts of excuses to prevent any possible Palestinian unity, and more importantly to use different excuses in order to block an end to its continuous colonization of Palestine. In the last few years, Hamas has become the excuse for Israel’s refusal to commit to the internationally agreed principles for achieving peace. Before that it was Arafat that was used as an excuse. If there was no Hamas in Palestine, Israel would have created it or helped create it, which it did.