What WikiLeaks Reveal about Obama's Middle East Policy

(Ha'aretz) Shlomo Avineri - President Barack Obama's policy in the Middle East has had two focuses: first, the belief that solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the key to bringing the Arab world closer to the U.S., and second, that the solution to the Iranian nuclear threat will lie in diplomacy and repeated attempts to negotiate. After nearly two years, not only has the Palestinian-Israeli conflict not been resolved, the sides haven't even made it to the negotiating table. Moreover, the generous openness toward Iran has not yielded results, nor have the sanctions - which have been far milder than their supporters suggest. What the WikiLeaks documents reveal is the fact that this policy was based on a serious mistake in assessing the Arab countries' stances. Statements by the king of Saudi Arabia and the president of Egypt, as well as from leaders from the Gulf emirates, indicate that what really is scaring the heads of the pro-Western Arab countries is not the conflict with Israel (which of course they want to resolve in a way acceptable to the Palestinians) - but rather Iran. Sometimes they see this strategic threat as a continuation of the long-standing Arab-Persian conflict. The Obama administration is completely impervious to these strategic, religious, cultural and historical dimensions, and uncritically bought the Arab propaganda without being sufficiently attuned to the Arabs' strategic considerations. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.

2010-12-10 08:18:10

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