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Al-Ahram, Egypt

Washington and the Middle East

By Aisha Abdel Ghaffar

Translated By Ahmad Abdel-Rahamn

1 December 2012

Edited by Kyrstie Lane

Egypt - Al-Ahram - Original Article (Arabic)

The U.S election campaign has, undoubtedly, provided a great example of democracy. Of course, we could mention the use of money as a weapon or the criticism waged against visual media by the fierce political campaigns. But in the end, the American people's decision came from a deep knowledge of both candidates and their programs. Hence, the U.S. proved that the elections were transparent.

There is no doubt that the issues in the Middle East will come to the surface again, particularly after the bloody events in Gaza. French president François Hollande said the French-American partnership must be consolidated in pursuit of economic growth and solutions to the grinding crises in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the French socialist described Obama as a sophisticated and modern president, expressing hopes that he will work to ensure international security and deal with crises threatening that security in Syria, Iran and Palestine.

France is not the only country willing to find a decisive solution in the Middle East. The British prime minister has also emphasized the importance of resolving this crisis during his recent visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Further, Ankara has announced that it started discussions with NATO to make room for surface-to-air missiles to be deployed on Turkish territory, in order to protect Turkey from the harbingers of the conflict in Syria. Besides, Turkey has demanded the establishment of a weapons-free zone in Syria for more than a month and a half.

The European Union is seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis and is discussing the idea of providing the Syrian opposition with arms. The West has already rejected this same idea. The proposal of establishing a Syrian transitional government is also being discussed. In terms of Palestine, France is hoping to convince Obama to take action.

In our perception, the U.S. administration during President Obama's second term will have to change its policy toward hot issues in the Middle East. This need for change can be attributed especially to the risks associated with Syria, which could become a hotbed for jihadists, as well as a possible explosion of the Palestinian problem if the United States stands idle.

In short, President Obama will take action because of the seriousness of the terrorist threat, which has become clearer since the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. Obama will also be motivated by global resentment caused by the Israeli assault on Gaza, which was designed primarily to thwart the Palestinian demand for acceptance of Palestine as a full member country at the United Nations General Assembly.

It will be a positive if Egypt doubles its initiatives to achieve calm in Gaza and if the U.S. and France demand that Cairo exert its influence over the Palestinians to contain their anger. Nevertheless, the ball is still in Obama’s court during his second term, after the United Nations’ approval of granting non-member status to Palestine, before the Israeli elections, and before the Arab world turns into banana republics!



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