Monday, December 22, 2008

Old Place and Old Interests: A New Configuration

It is clear that the whole world is expecting miracles from the newly elected American administration and president elect Obama. The Middle East in general and the diplomatically active Arab countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular are counting on a dramatic shift in US foreign policy toward the region. Whether this optimism is rightly placed remains to be seen.

What is of interest however, is the surprising collective Arab reaction to the change of political scenery in the US. The Arab league chose to send a unified message to president elect Obama, expressing optimism to achieve a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, thereby supporting the Saudi Peace initiative. Syria and Iran hoped for a diplomatic opening for each to start bilateral talks with the US. Syria went a step further today and hoped for a start of direct peace talks with Israel, which went through an extensive preliminary preparation stage this past year.

How much of US foreign policy initiatives will be directed to de-tangling conflicts, abandon isolation strategies and enact a sense of internationalism in the Middle East remains to be seen. What could be listed as a good sign coming from that troubled part of the world is the fact that they sense the urgency of declaring goodwill to the new American administration. Will that good first step automatically minimize the persistent geopolitical, undemocratic governing practices and economic realities on the ground? No. It will hopefully provide a mutual understanding between America and the Middle Eastern countries on how to narrow the gap between talking the talk and walking the walk.


This blog is dedicated to commenting on ongoing US - Middle Eastern affairs, in particular US/ Syrian and US/ Iranian foreign policy.

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