Obama's Middle East Challenges

(Washington Times) James Phillips - Brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement for recent American presidents has been the holy grail of foreign policy. Unfortunately for President Obama, a comprehensive accord is just not in the cards for his second term. The inconvenient truth is that peace is impossible as long as Hamas retains its stranglehold over Gaza. Hamas is implacably committed to Israel's destruction and well-positioned to torpedo a peace agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly wants to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. But events in the region will likely force him and his boss to focus elsewhere - on Syria and Iran. Sanctions and diplomatic pressure may not be enough to dissuade Iran from continuing on its present course. Sanctions alone certainly failed to halt North Korea's nuclear program. The U.S. must present a credible threat that it will use military force if Tehran continues its diplomatic stalling tactics. It was no coincidence that Iran froze its nuclear program in 2003 after seeing the Bush administration take military action against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Iran must be convinced to reverse course once again. It should be required to give up its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, close its Fordow uranium enrichment facility, and accept enhanced international inspections of other nuclear installations. The writer is the senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation.

2013-04-05 00:00:00

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