“People on different sides – whether it’s Arab governments or opposition groups – don’t take the U.S. seriously,” said Shadi Hamid, the director of research for the Brookings Doha Center who has lived in the region for the past four years and was in Egypt this week. “There is a widespread perception that Obama is a weak, feckless leader. That’s not just Republican talking points – it’s what people here in the region actually think and say on a regular basis.”
Hamid said there’s an “emerging consensus that Obama has gotten the Middle East wrong” because he’s convinced the United States only has limited power to shape events in the region. As a result, Hamid told The Hill, Obama missed a chance to embrace the Arab Spring by strongly opposing Bahrain’s crackdown on protesters, intervening early on in Syria’s uprising against Bashar Assad and labeling Morsi’s ouster a coup.
“It sends a very dangerous message if the U.S. is not even willing to respect its own law on matters of national security,” Hamid said. “The fact that we can’t call things what they are makes us a laughing-stock in the region. That’s why people don’t care about what Obama says and his rhetoric.”