Globe Trot: Obama's Arab summit includes notable no-shows

by Mindy Belz
Posted 5/15/15, 01:30 pm

ARAB SUMMIT: The no-shows at Camp David this week included Saudi Arabia’s King Salman—and appear a deliberate snub over White House warming to Iran. But that’s OK, because President Barack Obama made up for it by incorrectly introducing the deputy crown prince and misnaming the kingdom’s founder. Even better: Saudi Arabia and other Arab states now vow to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain.

AFRICA: A New York court sentenced a former aide to Osama Bin Laden, Khalid al-Fawwaz, to life in prison Friday over his role in the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, which killed 224 people. At this rate, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad may finally face the sentencing judge over the 9/11 attack in 2018, but I’m not betting on it.

NEPAL: Three bodies from the wreckage of a downed U.S. Marine helicopter were recovered before rescue workers called off the search for the evening. Eight people were on board the aircraft when it went down delivering humanitarian aid. The mission included working with groups like Samaritan’s Purse.

In the latest issue of WORLD, we highlight indigenous relief workers teaming up with aid groups to reach the remotest parts of quake-damaged Nepal.

IRAQ: Since I’m talking these days a lot about ISIS and Iraq and the Christian persecution resulting there, I get asked whether we should have invaded in 2003. Max Boot has an excellent summary answer, and it’s relevant to the 2016 election: “If I had known exactly how the war would turn out—with American troops being pulled out prematurely, leaving Iraq to the tender mercies of Iranian militias and ISIS—I would not have supported the invasion.”

The real answer isn’t short but it’s very important, especially for Republicans other than Jeb Bush who have decided to run on an anti-war plank:

But even after the U.S. went in based on false intelligence (which, as the Robb-Silberman commission found, was the fault of the intelligence community and not the White House), it would still have been possible to turn Operation Iraqi Freedom into a net positive—if, that is, it had actually delivered Iraqi freedom rather than chaos. Despite numerous missteps in the early going from 2003 to 2007, the “surge,” which President Bush courageously ordered in 2007 in the face of nearly total opposition, actually made it possible to imagine that the administration’s high hopes for Iraq might be vindicated.  Violence fell by more than 90 percent and Iraqi politics began to function again. In 2010 Vice President Biden, no less, even bragged that he was “very optimistic” about the outcome in Iraq.

That optimism was shattered by two of the Obama administration’s disastrous decisions: first, the move to back Nouri al Maliki as Iraq’s prime minister after the 2010 election (even though he was not the top vote getter; Ayad Allawi was); second, the failure to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement in 2011 to keep US troops in Iraq. 

Also worth following is the ongoing Twitter discussion @maxboot.

ISIS: Last week’s Hudson Institute panel discussion on “The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing and the Urgency of a Strategic Response” is available via audio and video here. It was a valuable day, and worth a listen. Walter Russell Mead, whom I joined as one of the presenters, has a recap of his remarks on the options for Middle East Christians in today’s Wall Street Journal.

SYRIA: “The Syrian government is about to fall,” a trusted source told me this week. And with it will come the annihilation of Syria’s Christians, analyst Elizabeth Kendal notes. “That the Arabs and Turks are willing to sacrifice many thousands of Alawite and Christian lives is unsurprising. That the West is willing to do so, is beyond comprehension.”

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Mindy Belz

Mindy is senior editor of WORLD Magazine and the author of They Say We Are Infidels. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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