- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2012

Radical Islam is on the march. It is being aided and abetted by the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently warned at a conference in Tunisia that the Arab Spring is backsliding. The democratic transformation of the Middle East and North Africa is not working out as Mrs. Clinton and President Obama had hoped. Liberal reformers are being eclipsed by Muslim militants. Islamist parties are coming to power. Mr. Obama has no one to blame but himself.

He has encouraged Arab street revolts against corrupt autocracies. Long-standing American allies, such as former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, were abandoned. Yet, contrary to his simplistic narrative of freedom fighters battling tyranny, Mr. Obama has helped pave the way for the triumph of Shariah democracy - the drive to establish a global Islamic caliphate. At his core, Mr. Obama is a radical secular progressive. Like all multiculturalists, he believes in one seminal myth: Mass poverty and oppression in the Third World is America’s fault. Hence, he champions anti-colonial “liberation movements” - the uprisings of repressed peoples, especially those in the Muslim world, chafing under authoritarian rule. Yet he never bothers to ask: What comes next? What kind of regime replaces the previous one? The results are often even worse.

The Arab Spring is turning into an Islamist winter. Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen are now becoming Wahhabi Sunni theocracies. Shariah law is being imposed. Minorities, especially Christians, are being eradicated. Dissidents are imprisoned. Women are oppressed. The Muslim Brotherhood and its allies are in the saddle. One-man, one-vote is being used by religious fanatics to impose Islamofascist rule.

In particular, two countries are driving the Arab Spring - Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The House of Saud has largely financed the Muslim Brotherhood and the street protests convulsing the region. Their goal is to promote Wahhabism, a puritanical strain of Sunni Islam. Wahhabism is profoundly reactionary; it is at war with the modern West, seeking to reimpose the Dark Ages. This is why it is virulently intolerant of Jews, Christians, women, atheists and even other Muslims such as the Shiites. The Obama administration has allied itself with wacky Wahhabis in the name of democracy and human rights. Yet the very opposite is taking place: Religious fanatics are seizing power. There is now an unholy alliance between the postmodern secular left and radical Islam.

Take Libya. The U.S.-NATO intervention that toppled Moammar Gadhafi has led to an Islamist state. Shariah is spreading. Young militant men with heavy firepower control the country’s airports, harbors and major roads. Militias roam the countryside. Former al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban fighters have infiltrated the country, targeting moderate Muslims and blacks. The nation is on the verge of splintering along ideological, sectarian and tribal lines. This is not a victory for humanitarianism but anarchy.

Now the Obama administration wants to repeat the Libya fiasco in Syria. Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton are publicly backing the rebels in their battle against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are funding the Free Syrian Army. Al Qaeda fighters and the Taliban are coming from Libya and Iraq through Turkey to join the swelling jihadist movement. The emir of Qatar has been open about his aim: Topple the last secular Arab regime. Washington is contemplating arming the insurgents, thereby tipping the military scales in their favor.

Contrary to media spin, however, the opposition is not full of Western-style democrats; rather, it wants to forge a Sunni-dominated Syria. Wahhabi rule would lead to mass killings and religious cleansing. The rebels vow to massacre the moderate Alawites. They call for Syria’s Christians to be expelled to Lebanon. Mr. Assad is a butcher, who has transformed Damascus into a proxy of Iran. His father, Hafez Assad, slaughtered more than 20,000 members of the Muslim Brotherhood at Hama in 1982. I have little sympathy for this cruel dictatorship. Yet the rebels do not represent the majority. Most Syrians despise the Wahhabis even more than they do Mr. Assad. They fear their country will revert to the 14th century. Mr. Obama is not interested in the wishes of ordinary Syrians. Instead, he wants the United States to partner with al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood in an anti-Assad coalition. In the end, the only winners will be the Islamists.

Mr. Obama has supported every major uprising in the Muslim world - except the only one that truly sought to establish a pro-American, secular democracy. In 2009, Iranians protested stolen elections. The Green Revolution wanted an end to the mullahs, their implacable hostility to the West and the desire for a nuclear-armed Iran. Millions poured onto the streets of Tehran and other cities. Mr. Obama remained silent. He did not wish to offend the ayatollahs, hoping to appease Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This act will go down in history as the most craven, reckless decision of the Obama presidency; the moment when America blinked in its confrontation with Iran, squandering a golden opportunity for its besieged people to overthrow the vile clerical fascist regime. For this treachery, Israel - and the Jews - may pay the ultimate price. Mr. Obama turned his back on the Iranian opposition - unlike Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and now, increasingly, Syria. He has betrayed our friends while rewarding our mortal enemies.

Whether this is a deliberate expression of anti-Americanism and national self-abnegation, or naive multicultural liberalism, is irrelevant. The pattern is clear: Mr. Obama’s foreign policy has directly empowered the Islamist agenda. Future generations will ask: Who lost the Middle East? Historians will write: Mr. Obama did.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.