Former US President Barack Obama offers a bleak portrait of much of the Middle East's leadership in his new memoir which was published on Tuesday.
In quotes from "A Promised Land" published by AFP, Obama reflects on the criticism that he was hypocritical for coaxing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down in the face of 2011 protests while treading lightly as Bahrain, a major base for US forces, suppressed demonstrations.
"I had no elegant way to explain the apparent inconsistency, other than to acknowledge that the world was messy; that in the conduct of foreign policy, I had to constantly balance competing interests," he writes.
Obama says he was cautioned at the time not to pressure Bahrain by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Recalling his meeting with Mubarak in 2009 in Cairo, Obama writes that he was "left with an impression that would become all too familiar in my dealings with aging autocrats: Shut away in palaces, their every interaction mediated by the hard-faced, obsequious functionaries that surrounded them, they were unable to distinguish between their personal interests and those of their nations."
On the same trip, he wrote that he was left with a grim impression of Saudi Arabia and its strict gender separation and religious codes.
Obama also says he was aware of the risks when he publicly pushed Mubarak to cede power but believed that if he were a young Egyptian, "I'd probably be out there" in the demonstrations.
US-Egypt ties were strained under the Obama administration, which suspended American military aid to Egypt following the 2013 ouster of Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi, before releasing it two years later.
Following the election of President Donald Trump, however, ties improved as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi praised Trump and said he expected greater engagement in the Middle East from his administration.