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Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Saudi Arabia

How Do We See Washington Today?

By Imad al-Din Adeeb

Translated By Maggie Proctor

10 December 2012

Edited by Natalie Clager

Saudi Arabia - Al-Sharq al-Awsat - Original Article (Arabic)

Yesterday, in Cairo, I met with American political scholar Robert Malley, one of the main advisors to former President Bill Clinton and currently Program Director for the Middle East and North Africa with the International Crisis Group in Washington. The important thing about Robert Malley is that he has a great understanding of the precise details of the Palestinian issue and has played a prominent role in the legal drafting process for a number of peace initiatives. I asked Rob for his opinion on the current administration’s priorities following Obama’s election to a second term, and he answered:

First: Don’t expect any major changes in the President’s policy toward the Middle East because the region isn’t a top priority in the administration’s foreign policy.

Second: In Washington’s view, the Palestine issue holds a low place in Middle East priorities.

Third: Hamas, and not the Palestinian Authority, is now the U.S. administration’s target for dialogue.

Fourth: The experience of the Arab Spring is the subject of close follow-up and review by the administration.

Fifth: Washington hasn’t bet on political Islam in the Arab world, but it has dealt with Islamists under the logic that they are a power that has great stock with the people, having come to power through clean, democratic elections.

Sixth: Washington supported Libya militarily for the simple fact that it was easier logistically and less expensive, militarily and economically, than the Syrian situation.

Seventh: Syria is a country with influence and geographic reach that impacts Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Based on the currently stable conditions with regard to the killings in Syria, any military intervention by the U.S. could have regional repercussions.

Eighth: The U.S. hasn’t yet reached a decision on how to contain the Iranian situation or whether the solution is nearby negotiations or initiating military action.

This conversation with Robert Malley leads one to certain conclusions, the most important of which is that the U.S. does not have settled, definite policies, but sometimes behaves like a Third World country that deals with events piecemeal and on a daily basis, reacting to changes hour-by-hour. There’s no guiding logic to the U.S.’s policy apart from accruing benefits and strengthening their interests, regardless of the victims who may fall along the way. That’s the lesson we must learn!



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