Obama Grilled on His Rwanda, Says He Didn't Want to Violate International Law
President Obama got slammed on his Syria inaction -- with an Al Arabiya interviewer asking if it will go down as his Rwanda -- and claimed yet again that he disposed of Assad's chemical weapons in a sit-down interview after his Camp David summit with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
When asked exactly what he meant by vowing to come to the military aid of Gulf countries if needed, Obama went straight to citing an action of President George H.W. Bush: "We've seen in the past what happened in Kuwait when Saddam invaded."
Obama divided the aid into "traditional" military assistance, such as joint exercises and assessing military capability, and non-traditional issues such as distinguishing terrorism from "legitimate political activities."
When asked why he wouldn't put his assurances to the Gulf countries in writing, Obama replied that "the treaty process is very cumbersome."
"It requires congressional approval and it's not necessary in this situation," he said.
Al Arabiya Washington correspondent Nadia Bilbassy noted that the security arrangement discussed with the GCC does not confront the true nature of the Iranian threat, to which Obama told her, "Well, actually it does."
He offered as an example "making sure Iran is not pouring arms into Yemen ...obviously there's a long history of political instability inside of Yemen and their own indigenous history inside of Yemen," but if Iran starts threatening the Saudi border "that then becomes a source of concern."
"Keep in mind the United States has been very clear that a nuclear-armed Iran would be potentially even more reckless and dangerous and so it's in everyone's interest to ensure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and that we provide a pathway for Iran to engage in positive behavior, commerce and trade and education and scientific exchange. That's the path that we hope they take," Obama said.
He added that "just because we're able to resolve the nuclear issue" doesn't mean there isn't the problem of Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism and "their potential for mischief."
Bilbassy asked if Obama was just engaging in a "wishful strategy" with the Iran deal.
"I don't think it's a wishful strategy," he replied. "... We cannot simply trust the Iranians to abide by the deal, it has to be verifiable." He said the verification process "extends for a very, very long period of time."
"Often you talk about Iran with admiration," his interviewer noted, asking him if he's thus putting down the Sunni countries in the region.
"Al Arabiya's going to have to do a better job delivering my message," Obama shot back. "Our closest friends in the region are the Gulf countries."
"Many people believe that Syria is your Rwanda, it might haunt you for years to come -- more than 200,000 people dead, 9 million people displaced, the worst humanitarian crisis in the 21st century. Are we going to see the end of the bloodshed before you leave office, Mr. President?" Bilbassy asked.