US Middle East Policy in Obama’s Second Term

US Middle East Policy in Obama’s Second Term

  • 19 February 2013

President Barack Obama has signaled his general lack of interest in the Middle East, his desire to withdraw militarily from the region, and his conviction, as a Pacific-Rim president, that the future of American diplomatic and military engagement lies in the Far East. Can he rebalance towards Asia while avoiding unbalancing the Middle East? In his second term he faces several severe challenges in the region. The US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, whether wholly or in part, poses diplomatic challenges as well as logistical ones. Agreements with Pakistan and India will be crucial to success here. The Syria crisis is likely to drag on for some time, and its aftermath will pose continued security problems for US allies in the area. Obama clearly wants the ‘cold war’ with Iran over its nuclear enrichment program, but the severity of US sanctions on that country creates a volatile relationship that could easily turn to hostilities. Moreover, Obama has unwisely set a vague red line for military intervention, which is Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons capability.

The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Nahda in Egypt and Tunisia, and the continued fragility of the post-Arab Spring societies, are also challenges for Obama. His domestic energy policy of promoting Green Energy has potential long-term implications for Middle East hydrocarbon producers, for the US strategic posture in the Middle East, and for US cooperation with Gulf renewable energy initiatives. Finally, it remains to be seen if he is willing to invest some of his prestige and popularity in making a final attempt to secure a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before it becomes finally impossible within a year or two.

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Tuesday 19 February 2013

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Tuesday 19 February 2013

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