Tag Archives: Middle East

Is Obama Wasting His Time In The Middle East.

So President Obama is in the Middle East trying to repair relations with countries in the region. Can he do the seemingly impossible?

The Middle East has a long and hate filled history with the U.S. and they don’t seem real keen to change in a hurry. Many terrorists seem to have the U.S. and their interests as their exclusive targets.

Sure Obama might be able to improve relations with some of the officials in this region but this is not going to change the views of the general population.

So what is it that people in the Middle East have against the U.S.?
Well largely the U.S. is seen as an empirical power trying to gain control over as much of the world as it can. They resent the U.S. using their military might to interfere in the region and acting like a bully protecting its own interests.

They also dislike the U.S. supporting Israel and giving them financial and military assistance.

There are also the obvious cultural differences between this largely Muslim area and the Christian dominated U.S.

As Obama lands in Saudi Arabia Al Quaeda has just released an audio message from Osama bin Landen denouncing Obama’s policies regarding the Middle East. The recording was released by news agency Al Jazeera shortly after Obama’s arrival in Saudi Arabia

In this recording he describes Obama as following the policy of his predecessor George Bush in “antagonising Muslims”.

“He has followed the steps of his predecessor in antagonising Muslims… and laying the foundation for long wars,” bin Laden says in the recording.

Saudi officials were quick to denounce the recording but bin Laden and Al Qaeda are quite effective at stirring up anti U.S. sentiment in the Middle East and as long as they and other groups like them can have an influence in the area it is going to be difficult to improve relationships in the region. The leaders of these countries are still politicians and they are, like politicians in other countries, interested in using the general opinion of the people to their advantage.

I hope Obama can make a peaceful difference and make the world a safer place but I fear it will take many more years of repair than there have been of damage to make a difference in Middle Eastern relations.

U.S. and Israel Don’t See Eye To Eye On Settlements.

Israel stands firm on its plans to continue building settlements in the West Bank.

The U.S. is also firm on its insistance that Israel must stop the building of its settlements in the West Bank.

Israel asserts that its plans to build settlements in the West Bank are nessecary due to ‘natural growth’. That term has been defined vaguely by Israeli officials, meaning for some that settlements should expand to accommodate only their own children.

Israel “cannot freeze life in the settlements,” Netanyahu said, describing the American call as an “unreasonable” demand.

Whatever the American demands and Israeli definitions, the reality is that no full freeze seems likely.

Mr Netanyahu is in a difficult position with factions pushing for the expansion of settlements and many opposed to the establishment of an independant Palestinian State. Support for succumbing to U.S. demands is not at all strong.

Netanyahu has set a stance to stop the spread of unofficial settlements however, that are not within the official settlement plans. Many successive governments have turned a blind eye to these unofficial settlements which largely contain rogue Israeli elements.

President Obama has played down tensions between the U.S. and Israel saying that “Part of being a good friend is being honest” in an interview with NPR News. “And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory, in the region is profoundly negative, not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests.

“We do have to retain a constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will lead to peace,” he added. “I’ve said that a freeze on settlements is part of that.”

“Not only is it in the interest of the Palestinian people to have a state, it’s in the interest of the Israeli people to stabilize the situation there,” he said. “And it’s in the interest of the United States that we’ve got two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Despite Israeli objections to halt West Bank settlements President Obama is confident United States was “going to be able to get serious negotiations back on track” between Israel and the Palestinians.

In the interview with NPR News Obama also said “It’s in the interest of the United States that we’ve got two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Referring to the debate about settlements, he said: “Diplomacy is always a matter of a long hard slog. It’s never a matter of quick results.”

Obama Calls For Israel To Halt West Bank Expansion

Israel must halt their expansion into the West Bank and Palestinians must increase West Bank security to allow the Middle East peace process to advance, said President Obama after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday.

Obama told reporters “I am confident that we can move this process forward if all the parties are willing to take on the responsibilities and meet the obligations that they’ve already committed to.” during a joint appearance with Abbas following the White House meeting.

Abbas said the Palestinian Authority was committed to fulfilling its obligations under the 2003 Middle East road map.

The two leaders called for immediate progress in the peace process in the hope of restarting peace talks directly between Palestinians and Israeli’s.

No formal Palestinian-Israeli negotiations have occurred since the latest Israeli elections brought Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power.

“What is needed right now is to resume the discussions with the current Israeli government,” Abbas said.

Obama pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, last week, for a firm Israeli commitment to Palestinian statehood as part of the so-called two-state solution, a position strongly advocated on Thursday by Abbas.

Netanyahu has committed to removing illegal settlements but has also committed to continue expansion or “natural Growth” of existing settlements.
Netanyahu has also refrained from committing to a Palestinian state saying that Israel needed security and a clear Palestinian Leader to talk to.

Obama said “It is in our interest to ensure that Israel is safe and secure,” and for steps to be taken towards a Palestinian free state.

At the same time, Obama said he told President Abbas “in a frank exchange” that continuing anti-Israel sentiments and incitements were “impediments to peace.”

The Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas holds power on the West Bank, while the militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas controls Gaza. Abbas is under pressure to negotiate with Hamas on creating a unified Palestinian leadership, Obama noted, and praised him for insisting that such a Palestinian leadership must agree to Israel’s right to exist and commit itself to peace.

Without both sides of this conflict doing their part and recognising each others right to security and a clearly defined boundary peace will be difficult to establish and maintain.

Clearly some large policy shifts will be required from both sides before a suitable peace can be found.