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Obama in the Middle East ... Again

Dr. Naser Al-Tamimi

Published: Updated:

President Barack Obama returns this week to the Middle East for the second time since his famous speech in Cairo in 2009, facing a turbulent situation, a decline in U.S. power, as well as missing optimism in America’s ability to contribute to solving the problems of the region.


I have to admit, I never believed that any U.S. president can or will solve the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict, although the majority were optimistic during his first tour. Of course, Obama may have good intentions at the personal level, but ultimately he is the president of the United States, therefore, he is only part of a “system” that rules America. Closely watching the performance of that “system,” I would like to express some personal observations which may be undiplomatic and seem pessimistic:

• How can the United States to solve the problems of the Middle East, while its political system failed to solve the problems of the United States itself, let alone solve the problems of Afghanistan and North Korea.

• The changes that have occurred in the American foreign policy towards the Middle East were a result of internal and external pressures after the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, not as progress of genuine evolution. Indeed, the “old mentality” is still active and kicking well in the corridors of the U.S. power.

• Strikingly, the U.S. military is probably the only institution that learned the harsh lessons in the Middle East, and many of its leaders have logical and rational approaches for dealing with Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, it is clear that institution has become constant victim of the sins of politicians in Washington.

Strikingly, the U.S. military is probably the only institution that learned the harsh lessons in the Middle East, and many of its leaders have logical and rational approaches for dealing with Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Naser al-Tamimi

• Obama is weak politically on issues like Palestine, Syria and so-called the countries of Arab Spring, thus he does not have a magic stick. Everyone knows that Iran has the priority and its nuclear program is in the top of his visit’s agenda. The rest is only details.

• Calls for dialogue with Iran are positive signals, but not sufficient. The style of arrogance will only lead to war which is not in the interest of any one including the American people, except may be for the Netanyahu’s camp.

• Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the old method has failed miserably. The time has come to involve all world powers and put the issue to the U.N. Security Council to end the occupation of Palestine. This scenario is not possible, even if President Obama wishes to happen.

Surely, the Netanyahu’s camp who is obsessed with Iran and suffering from “Iranophobia” will considered any search for true peace is a waste of time or a reward for terrorism, However the Americans are well aware now more than ever that military force alone does not bring peace, and the “colonial mentality” has failed in all phases of history. Ultimately, Mr. President, I am not optimistic about your visit because you are looking for solutions in all capitals except in Jerusalem, which is the heart of the conflict.

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Dr. Naser AL-Tamimi is a UK-based Middle East analyst and the author of the forthcoming book "China-Saudi Arabia Relations, 1990-2012: Marriage of Convenience or Strategic Alliance?" He is also Al Arabiya's regular contributor with particular research interest in energy politics and political economy of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Middle East-Asia relations. The writer can be reached on Twitter: @ nasertamimi or Email: nasertamimi@hotmail.co.uk

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