American influence in the Middle East slipping

Jared DeLuna
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© Collage "The Voice of Russia

America’s image and influence has taken more of a beating within the Middle East, thanks to the new film ‘Innocence of Muslims’. The movie, which appeared on YouTube has yet to be taken down. Meanwhile, both Iran and Israel are becoming increasing defiant of America’s calls for peace. Retired Pakistani General and author of the book ‘Gwadar on the Global Chessboard’, Nadir Mir, told The Voice of Russia that Russia is the only player that might be able to help.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has refused to take down the video. Instead it decided merely to block the video from being accessed in the countries where protests have turned violent. 
YouTube released a statement saying; “This video, which is widely available on the web, is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries.”

While the film will still be shown around the world, because of YouTube’s refusal to take it down, some countries are planning to filter out the video or ban the website completely.

One of those countries is Russia; it has been talking about blocking the video to help prevent the damage it has already caused from spreading further. Retired Pakistani General and author of the book ‘Gwadar on the Global Chessboard’, Nadir Mir told The Voice of Russia “as Russia plans on banning sites hosting this film, they are heading in the right direction. Russia is rightly sensitive to its Muslim population’s sentiments and also hpw those in Central Asia.”

As other countries are currently looking into these bans, American interests have suffered because of the film, but it seems America may still be able to pick up the pieces and salvage its image.

America will need to start promoting peace and, according to Nadir Mir, “America can make its Embassies safe, not by adding walls and layers of security but by getting back to pure diplomatic work. The American Embassies should be the abode of the State Department and not infested with every kind of special force and military contractor. In addition, America needs to respect Islam and Muslims instead of demonizing them”.

This will be a gigantic task for America to take on; Nadir Mir also added that the film was just one more nail in the coffin of America’s good relations in the Middle East, where there is ever-increasing anti-U.S. sentiment. “The American image was already tarnished over decades of wars and empty promises. In fact, the film was one more catalyst of hate and there may be more to come”, he added.

The fact that America’s influence is slipping in the Middle East can be shown by the fact that both Iran and Israel are becoming increasingly defiant of America’s calls for peace. Nadir Mir also hinted at the fact that the only player that might help is Russia. “This potential war will not only become a regional conflict quickly, but might even possibly lead to a World War III situation. Moscow’s efforts for peace must be appreciated, more than ever before.”

The short-term damage that the film has inflicted on the American image seems to be expanding into longer-term problems. Nadir Mir believes that America needs start backing off and should not provoke Muslim feelings any further. He also stated that President Obama has done a good job so far at just that. “It would not be prudent for America to provoke things further. In fact, President Obama’s restraint is seen as a prudent act as things begin to boil over.” He told The Voice of Russia.

The road to recovery will be a massive undertaking for America, which is now faced with a huge damage control exercise. The challenge of regaining a certain influence in the Middle East might be harder than it sounds. America’s decisions will not only be essential on the path to peace but may also prove to be too much to take on.