US raked over the coals by Arab media over its approach to Syria's chemical weapons disposal

'Al Hayat' columnist says it “is no exaggeration in saying that Barack Obama has disappointed many in the Arab region.”

kerry covers his face 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
kerry covers his face 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Arab media report that some Arab governments are irate about US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement on Monday – that he was “very pleased” that experts had begun the process of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons.
Sunni Arab states, particularly from the Gulf, were already upset with US President Barack Obama’s decision not to enforce his own red line and attack Syria.
The Sunnis, furious over the deaths of more than 100,000 people in Syria, had been hoping for follow-through on US threats of air strikes against the Syrian government, which came after a deadly August 21 chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus. Instead, the US agreed to a deal brokered by Russia.
“I think it is extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were already being destroyed,” Kerry said at a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at an Asia-Pacific summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
“I think it’s also a credit to the Assad regime for complying rapidly, as they are supposed to,” he added. “Now, we hope that will continue. I’m not going to vouch today for what happens months down the road, but it’s a good beginning, and we should welcome a good beginning.”
A team of international experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague and UN personnel began destroying Syria’s chemical gas arsenal on Sunday.
Urayb ar-Rintawi, a columnist for the Jordanian Ad-Doustour newspaper, wrote on Wednesday that states in the region responded angrily – both openly and quietly – to the news, and said it would not be unexpected if Assad became a US ally in the war on terrorism.
This is especially true with the growing influence of groups like the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra, he said, recalling that Saudi Arabia had recently canceled its speech at the UN General Assembly – a move thought to be largely due to the lack of action on the Syrian issue.
“Israel’s security, and not ‘democracy in Syria’ is the top priority of the American policy in the Middle East,” said Rintawi, pointing out that the lives of innocent Syrian civilians was not deemed important enough to intervene.
Elias Harfoush argued in the London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat that it “is no exaggeration in saying that Barack Obama has disappointed many in the Arab region.”
It was thought that Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, would stand up for human rights, he said. Furthermore, he added, the lessons from this episode illustrate that Obama will act in a similar fashion regarding Iran and its nuclear program.
“As a result of all this American hesitation in our region, some stubborn and oppressive regimes have succeeded in staying in power and maintaining the grip of their forces... over their people via fictitious deals with Washington,” Harfoush concluded.
Reuters contributed to this report.