The recent killing of US ambassador in Libya and massive anti-American protests in the Muslim world have raised serious questions with regard to the fact that USA is the world's only super power with no competition whatsoever. I am saying this because the recent protests may have been triggered in response to some "blasphemous" film by an American but its main reason is the "long term" US military presence in the Muslim world. Since First Gulf War USA has maintained a heavy military presence in the Persian Gulf. Though the Arab governments in the region except for Syria has no objection to the USA's military presence but the general Arab public had always reservations to the US military presence in the region. But they were never able to express themselves as almost all the countries of the region are ruled by royal families or military dictators. But the "Arab spring" has meant that now the people are free to come to the street and express their anger against America and also against their own governments.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago the USA has hardly faced any competitor ideologically, economically or for that matter militarily. The world is been "unipolar" for the last 20 years with USA being the sole Super Power of the world. America since then has promoted the concepts of Democracy, Liberalism, Open market economy and Humanitarian Intervention etc. Many countries have accepted its concepts with open heart. The triumph of capitalism over socialism at the end of the last century is the testimony to this fact.
Like else where in the world USA has imposed its will even in the United Nations. It has attacked Iraq in 2003 even without the approval of Security Council. It has vetoed many resolutions that it finds against the interests of Israel. But now the situation is changing and USA is under pressure from several fronts or I must say it is facing some real problems. The USA led NATO troops are in the eleventh year of their operation in Afghanistan and although USA has announced the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan by the year 2014. It seems unlikely that it will happen as the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating recently with the increase in NATO casualties. There is a growing discontent among the US citizens over their countries military involvement in Afghanistan. The US economy is also not in good shape and many other developments around the world are proving that American dominance is in danger. So following are some reasons to tell what exactly is going wrong for the America.
1) There is a widespread anti-American sentiment through out the Muslim world. Mainly because of prolong US military presence in Muslim lands and its military operations such as drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. The level of violence has also escalated in Iraq after the withdrawal of US forces making the country even worse than it was under Saddam Hussein. The situation in Afghanistan is also not very good with Karzai Government failing to control significant part of the country. All this has fueled strong anti-American anger in the Islamic world. USA is being viewed as the enemy of Islam and with the rise of Islamists parties this perception is not going to end any soon.
2) The so called Arab Spring is proving an unstable experience and has changed the "status quo" of the region to America's utter discomfort. Islamists parties have come to power in Tunisia and Egypt, former strong US allies in the region and there is no doubt that these parties will not be that friendly with the US as their predecessors were. This means that now USA will have to reassess its policies towards these countries on the basis of ground realities. Egypt the beacon of Arab World and one of strong regional military power is going away from USA's sphere of influence under the new Muslim Brotherhood government.
3) The USA's double standards with regard to the promotion of so called "democracy" in Arab countries is being exposed profoundly today with the advent of new media and social networking sites. On the one hand USA has supported "people movements" in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iran. While at the same time its powerful allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and UAE are in themselves very strict and often brutal "dictatorships".
4) The situation in Iraq is completely out of anybody's control giving Iran leverage to exert its influence to a degree it had never before. The fall of the Saddam Hussein has meant that there is a power vacuum in the region that has to be filled in and at the moment after the withdrawal of US led forces from Iraq the three regional powers namely Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are trying to fill that vacuum with their respective followers in the country.
5) After the end of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has once again divided on tribal lines like it was before him, in the process giving Al-Qaida an opportunity to operate and expand itself in the Maghreb region. Even after the successful elections the country is facing a very serious problem in the form of huge stock pile of weapons that are in the control of various regional and tribal militias. There is also a growing sense of insecurity that these weapons may cross borders making the region a dangerous place.
6) Obvious hesitance of US to directly interfere in the Syrian Civil war has pitted the two regional powerhouses namely Turkey and Iran against each other which by no means a great sign for the region. The longer the Syrian conflict goes on the greater damage it will do to the region. The strong support of Russia and China and their use of veto in the UN SC against any action against the Basher Al Assad's government have greatly undermined USA's and its supporter's effort to topple the Syrian Arab Republic Government. Although NATO and EU have imposed sanctions against the Syrian Arab Republic Government and are providing every possible help in the shape of monetary aid, weapons and communication devices to the Syrian rebels based in Turkey and in Syria itself. Still the loyalty of Syrian Arab Army towards Basher Al Assad and possible intelligence and logistical support that it is receiving from its strong allies has meant that it is not going to be easy for rebels to stand against a well armed and trained national army.
7) Since the creation of Israel the ultimate objective of America's policy towards the Middle East and Arab world is to ensure the safety and continuity of the existence of Israel in the heart of Middle East amidst half a dozen hostile states. In this regard US have been instrumental in supporting the dictatorships across the Arab world so as to ensure no public supported government must come to power which in turn could hurt the vital interests of Israel. Now with the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime and subsequent coming in power of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Islamist Government in Tunisia rings a danger bell for Israel. Even one of Israel's strong regional allies Turkey has problems with Israel especially after the Flotilla incident in 2010.
8) The long standing standoff between USA and Iran is not looking to end any soon. The US engineered "sanctions" against Iran have proven to be futile and instead of hurting the Islamic Republic's Government is hurting the "common Iranian" raising questions against the wisdom of imposing such sanctions. The Islamic Republic is still selling its oil and there is no dearth of buyers of Iranian oil. Although it can not be denied that the Iranian currency has no value in the international market and the government is finding it very difficult to trade in the international market; as a result the Iranian economy has enormously suffered therefore shrinking by almost half in size of what it was at the start of this century. But still the Iran's strong Theocracy which controls everything shows no sign of being depleted rather it has become stronger in its rhetoric. The reason for the failure of sanctions against Iran is the present condition of the world economy which is going through a tough phase. This has meant that countries like Japan, India and China may have significantly curtailed their import of Iranian oil but they are not willing to say completely no to it.
9) Russia under the President ship of Vladimir Putin is again trying to become a super power and obviously not going to pursue a very "friendly" policy towards America as Mr. Putin has many differences with Mr. Obama over issues both directly and indirectly affecting Russian politics. It is not hidden that Moscow has dealt hardly with the anti -- government protestors of whom it accuses of being "foreign engineered". Russia is also not happy with the USA over the NATO's controversial radar program which it believes to be aimed at Moscow. Putin has also presented a proposal for forming a Eurasian Union of the former soviet states aimed at competing with the EU and US influence. On the media front the Russian state owned RT television station is being continuously involved in supporting Syrian government and Occupy Wall Street protests in USA giving a strong competition to American media.The recent closure of US Agency for International Development (USAID) with all it's activities in Russia by the Kremlin is also a sign that Mr. Putin is against any "foreign" involvement in Russia's Domestic Politics.
10) China on the other hand is pursuing a policy to challenge and sometime overcome US supremacy "economically". With all its effort US is being unable to contain the "rise of the dragon". China has invested billions of dollars worldwide even in countries that have no good relation with the US and it is quite obvious that China will not tolerate any interference in the internal matters of those states by US or for that matter by any other country. With countries like India, Brazil, Turkey with their economic power growing it is proving difficult for US to impose its will on them without any opposition.
11) The fragile economic condition of the European Union is also a bad sign for America as it means that Germany, France and United Kingdom can not whole heartedly support it. Because of high rate of unemployment and rising dissatisfaction with regard to austerity measures being implemented by several EU countries the focus of the above mentioned countries is being shifted to solve their own problems first leaving USA to pursue any policy on its own. Even there is a rise in the support for left parties in the EU that is not a very great sign for USA. The recent elections in Greece are just an example of it.
12) In the last, with the deterioration of Turkey's relationship with Israel and Iran and Saudi support of anti- government elements in Syria and Iraq, the region is much more polarized than before. Another war in the region in the shape of Israel's or USA's attack on Iran's nuclear facility and possible Iranian retaliation on Israeli, American and Saudi targets across the region with its strong navy and air force would bring catastrophe not just for the region but for the world also as there is a chance that other big powers might well involve themselves to save their "allies" or at least will provide every possible help in the shape of weapons and intelligence information.ABSAR AHMAD: Post graduate student of Masters in Communication Studies, Pune University, India. I have interest in Middle Eastern and Iranian Studies.