Hillary’s Visit to the Middle East

What does Hillary Clinton want from her recent visit to the region? On the eve of Clinton’s visit to Ramallah, a veteran European diplomat gave me the best description: “She wants something different from each party!”

The diplomat added, “In tours like this, usually a superpower like the U.S. strives toward just one pursuit or goal. However, on this trip the U.S. wants something specific from each of the parties of the region.”

These words can be understood as follows:

1. Clinton wants to convince the Israelis not to expand their military response and risk the anticipated ground invasion of Gaza, in order to avoid an even more explosive situation or further embarrassing Washington and the European Union.

2. Clinton wants Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to think about dropping or postponing his pursuit of this month’s UN bid for temporary state recognition. The bid would put Israel in a complicated situation and further embarrass America, who has vetoed Arab interests more often than anyone else.

3. Clinton will ask Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to continue mediation efforts, which Washington has intensely supported since the very first moment. Clinton will insist that President Morsi strive to utilize personal relationships and all the historical ties between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas to control the ceasefire process.

Therefore, through Clinton’s visit, Washington is seeking to piece together the exploded fragments of the situation, using Egyptian efforts, American oversight, and Qatari and Turkish support to save the region from reaching a state of chaos.

The basic aim of American action is three things:

1. A ceasefire in the interest of Israel’s safety.

2. Frustrating the Iranian project of using Palestinian factions to increase Iran’s security so that Iran can use the factions as a bartering chip in future negotiations with America.

3. To convert this military tension into a truce with lasting security arrangements.

If Hamas proves its ability to manage the crisis and control the rockets, America will offer it the “Who Wins the Million?”* prize: recognition by America and direct public dialogue with the American administration!

* Translator’s note: “Who Wins the Million [Saudi Riyal]?” is the name of a popular television game show in Saudi Arabia.

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