TEL AVIV – A piece in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsa opined that the detention of 10 American sailors just hours before President Obama’s final State of the Union address effectively “kidnapped” the “foolish” U.S. president himself by casting a shadow over his authority.
Tareq Al-Homayed, former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsa, estimated that the international incident proved Iran does not intent to moderate its positions ahead of next week’s expected lifting of a decade of sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime.
Al-Homayed’s article was translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI.
“When Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized two American naval craft in the Gulf on Tuesday evening [January 13, 2016], with ten American sailors on board, it was not the sailors who were the important point, but the fact that the Revolutionary Guards effectively kidnapped U.S. President Barack Obama [himself only] a few hours before he was to deliver his final State of the Union address, towards the end of his second term in office.
The crisis of the American sailors [detained by] Iran ended [just] a few hours after their arrest, but it was Obama’s speech that was hijacked, since the Iranians deprived Obama of the opportunity to appear as the strong man who had forced Iran to capitulate on the nuclear dossier.”
In the Saudi editor’s analysis, the sailors’ arrest deprived Obama of “the chance to boast of the legitimacy of the nuclear agreement and to tell America, which is divided on the Iranian issue, as is the entire world, that Iran has changed and will once again become an active member of the international community [a country] that renounces violence and respects international treaties and agreements.”
Al-Homayed called Obama “foolish” for trusting the Iranian government. “Some may say that the Iranians’ conduct was foolish, and this is true – but so was placing faith in the Iranian regime!
“Hence, the arrest of the Iranian sailors [right] before Obama’s address exposed the weakness of the American president and sparked doubts even in those who defend his foreign policy, especially [his policy] towards Iran’s [behavior] in our region.
Embarrassment was apparent even among the White House staff, as manifest in leaks and excuses conveyed by Obama’s staff to the U.S. media during the sailors’ detention.
The biggest embarrassment was over Obama’s handling of the incident… and [the question of] whether or not he would refer to it in his pre-prepared speech. So what we witnessed was not so much the abduction of the sailors but the abduction of the American president himself. His ransom was the missed opportunity to present himself as a strong president enjoying the legitimacy of achieving the nuclear agreement with Iran.
With the premeditated intent to abuse the American president and to present his weakness to all, the Revolutionary Guards arrested the American sailors, and in fact kidnapped Obama himself, [just] days before the expected implementation of the nuclear agreement they will not submit and that Obama is too weak to boast of victory over them.”
Al-Homayed believes the incident was also aimed at the domestic Iranian audience, with hardliners in the country seeking to solidify their grasp on power ahead of expected economic changes following any major sanctions relief.
“Likewise, the Revolutionary Guards seek to tell anyone, in Iran and outside it, that their hand is still uppermost in Tehran, despite everything that has happened to Iran recently, after the wild attack on the Saudi Embassy in Iran and Tehran’s apology to the [UN] Security Council for this.
Additionally, the IRGC’s action [i.e. detaining the sailors] is a response that embarrasses the propaganda of the Iranian president [Rohani] and his men – particularly the wily foreign minister [Zarif] and others – who claim that they want peace and openness, as they market lies and corrupt accusations against Saudi Arabia.”
Al-Homayed concluded by criticizing Obama for failing to oppose Iran’s larger regional strategy, including Tehran’s hostility toward Saudi Arabia.
“Obama’s predicament is not manifested only in his kidnapping, but [also] in that he wants to take a neutral stand vis-à-vis the recent Iranian hostility against Saudi Arabia and the entire region. But he himself became a victim of Iran when [Iran] kidnapped him [just] before his final State of the Union address, and wrecked his opportunity to present himself as an accomplished hero when [his accomplishments] are in fact not yet completed.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.