President Obama's First Two Years in the Middle East

(Al-Hayat-UK) David Schenker - Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking has been the most obvious of the Administration's regional setbacks. Regardless of how one regards Israeli settlements in the West Bank, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that President Obama's approach has been counterproductive, resulting in the first cessation of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in more than 15 years. In addition, the decision to renew diplomatic dialogue with Iran and Syria has proven a predictable, though real, disappointment, despite unprecedented goodwill gestures. The Administration has persisted with its efforts to entice Syria out of the Iranian orbit, a tack that has confirmed the Assad regime's longstanding conceit that "no problems can be solved in the Middle East without Syria." This in turn has emboldened the anti-Western alliance of Damascus, Tehran, and Hizbullah, undermining other U.S. interests and allies in the region. The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006 he was Levant director to the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

2010-12-28 10:37:46

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