What is Obama's legacy in the Middle East?

Published January 4th, 2017 - 16:12 GMT

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When President Barack Obama came into office eight years ago, he inherited the blowback from George W. Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Hopes were high as he expressed intentions to improve US relations with the Islamic world, with plans to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and establish Arab-Israeli peace
Yet, critics say his own actions and inactions throughout two terms of office has contributed significantly to the unraveling of the Middle East. The intervention in Libya, continuation of the Afghanistan war, as well as the recent fall of the Syrian city of Aleppo, have all served to deepened the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving a major stain Obama's legacy. Now, as he prepares to step down as President of the United States, we take a look back at Obama's role in the Middle East. Continue reading below »

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Five years ago, Barack Obama announced that the 'war in Iraq ends this month.” But while US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, the US put boots back on the ground after Daesh gained territory in the country three years later. Over the last few months, the number of US troops has increased even more in the battle for Mosul against Daesh.
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Image 1 of 9:  1 / 9Five years ago, Barack Obama announced that the "war in Iraq ends this month.” But while US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, the US put boots back on the ground after Daesh gained territory in the country three years later. Over the last few months, the number of US troops has increased even more in the battle for Mosul against Daesh.

(Source: AFP)

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While Obama pledged to end the war in Afghanistan, more than 8000 US troops remain. Obama also loosened the rules of engagement for US troops, providing greater flexibility to carry out airstrikes or wage ground combat. But this has not prevented the Taliban from making territorial gains, alongside a thousands of casualties.
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Image 2 of 9:  2 / 9While Obama pledged to end the war in Afghanistan, more than 8000 US troops remain. Obama also loosened the rules of engagement for US troops, providing greater flexibility to carry out airstrikes or wage ground combat. But this has not prevented the Taliban from making territorial gains, alongside a thousands of casualties.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Syria has been one of the main testing grounds for Obama’s doctrine and his reluctance to be involved in unpopular ground conflicts like Iraq. Notably, his 2013 decision not to launch airstrikes against Syria after President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to kill civilians (despite earlier promises) was heavily criticised.
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Image 3 of 9:  3 / 9Syria has been one of the main testing grounds for Obama’s doctrine and his reluctance to be involved in unpopular ground conflicts like Iraq. Notably, his 2013 decision not to launch airstrikes against Syria after President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to kill civilians (despite earlier promises) was heavily criticised.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Notably, the regime’s victory in Aleppo has highlighted the failure of U.S. efforts to prevent the carnage from the six-year-old civil war. Comparisons have been made between Obama’s approach to Aleppo and President Bill Clinton’s refusal to intervene in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
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Image 4 of 9:  4 / 9Notably, the regime’s victory in Aleppo has highlighted the failure of U.S. efforts to prevent the carnage from the six-year-old civil war. Comparisons have been made between Obama’s approach to Aleppo and President Bill Clinton’s refusal to intervene in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

(Source: AFP)

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When asked what his ‘worst mistake’ was, Obama cited Libya. Following the 2011 US-backed NATO intervention in Libya that killed President Gaddafi, Libya remains without a single government, embroiled in political divisions and violent infighting. The unrest is partly blamed on the US' lack of planning after the enforced regime change.
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Image 5 of 9:  5 / 9When asked what his ‘worst mistake’ was, Obama cited Libya. Following the 2011 US-backed NATO intervention in Libya that killed President Gaddafi, Libya remains without a single government, embroiled in political divisions and violent infighting. The unrest is partly blamed on the US' lack of planning after the enforced regime change.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Obama's promise of an Israel-Palestine peace agreement has been unfulfilled. He supported Israel’s isolation of the Gaza Strip and opposed Palestine’s bid to gain UN state recognition. Also, while critical of Israeli settlement expansion, he has done nothing to oppose it. Critics say his legacy could be the end of the two-state solution.
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Image 6 of 9:  6 / 9Obama's promise of an Israel-Palestine peace agreement has been unfulfilled. He supported Israel’s isolation of the Gaza Strip and opposed Palestine’s bid to gain UN state recognition. Also, while critical of Israeli settlement expansion, he has done nothing to oppose it. Critics say his legacy could be the end of the two-state solution.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
The controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal saw Iran curb its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Some regard it as Obama’s biggest foreign policy achievement, with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon saying it “will contribute to peace and stability in the region.'
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Image 7 of 9:  7 / 9The controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal saw Iran curb its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Some regard it as Obama’s biggest foreign policy achievement, with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon saying it “will contribute to peace and stability in the region."

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
With Obama in office, disagreement between the US and Saudi has multiplied over US policy towards Iran and the Syrian conflict. But this hasn’t stopped his administration authorizing a record $60bn in US military sales to Saudi Arabia since 2010. These arms are linked to the large number of civilian casualties in Saudi airstrikes in Yemen.
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Image 8 of 9:  8 / 9With Obama in office, disagreement between the US and Saudi has multiplied over US policy towards Iran and the Syrian conflict. But this hasn’t stopped his administration authorizing a record $60bn in US military sales to Saudi Arabia since 2010. These arms are linked to the large number of civilian casualties in Saudi airstrikes in Yemen.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Under Obama’s watch, Al-Qaeda went into decline, and his administration was responsible for the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. But critics say Obama’s eagerness to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, and his indecisiveness about how to handle the crisis in Syria, helped the rise of the Daesh.
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Image 9 of 9:  9 / 9Under Obama’s watch, Al-Qaeda went into decline, and his administration was responsible for the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. But critics say Obama’s eagerness to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, and his indecisiveness about how to handle the crisis in Syria, helped the rise of the Daesh.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge

1

Five years ago, Barack Obama announced that the 'war in Iraq ends this month.” But while US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, the US put boots back on the ground after Daesh gained territory in the country three years later. Over the last few months, the number of US troops has increased even more in the battle for Mosul against Daesh.

Image 1 of 9Five years ago, Barack Obama announced that the "war in Iraq ends this month.” But while US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, the US put boots back on the ground after Daesh gained territory in the country three years later. Over the last few months, the number of US troops has increased even more in the battle for Mosul against Daesh.

(Source: AFP)

2

While Obama pledged to end the war in Afghanistan, more than 8000 US troops remain. Obama also loosened the rules of engagement for US troops, providing greater flexibility to carry out airstrikes or wage ground combat. But this has not prevented the Taliban from making territorial gains, alongside a thousands of casualties.

Image 2 of 9While Obama pledged to end the war in Afghanistan, more than 8000 US troops remain. Obama also loosened the rules of engagement for US troops, providing greater flexibility to carry out airstrikes or wage ground combat. But this has not prevented the Taliban from making territorial gains, alongside a thousands of casualties.

(Source: AFP)

3

Syria has been one of the main testing grounds for Obama’s doctrine and his reluctance to be involved in unpopular ground conflicts like Iraq. Notably, his 2013 decision not to launch airstrikes against Syria after President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to kill civilians (despite earlier promises) was heavily criticised.

Image 3 of 9Syria has been one of the main testing grounds for Obama’s doctrine and his reluctance to be involved in unpopular ground conflicts like Iraq. Notably, his 2013 decision not to launch airstrikes against Syria after President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to kill civilians (despite earlier promises) was heavily criticised.

(Source: AFP)

4

Notably, the regime’s victory in Aleppo has highlighted the failure of U.S. efforts to prevent the carnage from the six-year-old civil war. Comparisons have been made between Obama’s approach to Aleppo and President Bill Clinton’s refusal to intervene in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Image 4 of 9Notably, the regime’s victory in Aleppo has highlighted the failure of U.S. efforts to prevent the carnage from the six-year-old civil war. Comparisons have been made between Obama’s approach to Aleppo and President Bill Clinton’s refusal to intervene in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

(Source: AFP)

5

When asked what his ‘worst mistake’ was, Obama cited Libya. Following the 2011 US-backed NATO intervention in Libya that killed President Gaddafi, Libya remains without a single government, embroiled in political divisions and violent infighting. The unrest is partly blamed on the US' lack of planning after the enforced regime change.

Image 5 of 9When asked what his ‘worst mistake’ was, Obama cited Libya. Following the 2011 US-backed NATO intervention in Libya that killed President Gaddafi, Libya remains without a single government, embroiled in political divisions and violent infighting. The unrest is partly blamed on the US' lack of planning after the enforced regime change.

(Source: AFP)

6

Obama's promise of an Israel-Palestine peace agreement has been unfulfilled. He supported Israel’s isolation of the Gaza Strip and opposed Palestine’s bid to gain UN state recognition. Also, while critical of Israeli settlement expansion, he has done nothing to oppose it. Critics say his legacy could be the end of the two-state solution.

Image 6 of 9Obama's promise of an Israel-Palestine peace agreement has been unfulfilled. He supported Israel’s isolation of the Gaza Strip and opposed Palestine’s bid to gain UN state recognition. Also, while critical of Israeli settlement expansion, he has done nothing to oppose it. Critics say his legacy could be the end of the two-state solution.

(Source: AFP)

7

The controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal saw Iran curb its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Some regard it as Obama’s biggest foreign policy achievement, with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon saying it “will contribute to peace and stability in the region.'

Image 7 of 9The controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal saw Iran curb its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Some regard it as Obama’s biggest foreign policy achievement, with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon saying it “will contribute to peace and stability in the region."

(Source: AFP)

8

With Obama in office, disagreement between the US and Saudi has multiplied over US policy towards Iran and the Syrian conflict. But this hasn’t stopped his administration authorizing a record $60bn in US military sales to Saudi Arabia since 2010. These arms are linked to the large number of civilian casualties in Saudi airstrikes in Yemen.

Image 8 of 9With Obama in office, disagreement between the US and Saudi has multiplied over US policy towards Iran and the Syrian conflict. But this hasn’t stopped his administration authorizing a record $60bn in US military sales to Saudi Arabia since 2010. These arms are linked to the large number of civilian casualties in Saudi airstrikes in Yemen.

(Source: AFP)

9

Under Obama’s watch, Al-Qaeda went into decline, and his administration was responsible for the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. But critics say Obama’s eagerness to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, and his indecisiveness about how to handle the crisis in Syria, helped the rise of the Daesh.

Image 9 of 9Under Obama’s watch, Al-Qaeda went into decline, and his administration was responsible for the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. But critics say Obama’s eagerness to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, and his indecisiveness about how to handle the crisis in Syria, helped the rise of the Daesh.

(Source: AFP)

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