Middle East

Obama seeks to leverage his Iraq debacle into rapprochement with Iran

Featured image In the post immediately below this one, I argue that President Obama now “owns” Iraq because his unwillingness seriously to negotiate a status of forces agreement led directly to Iraq’s current chaos. Obama, of course, doesn’t see it this way, but he is belatedly looking for ways to prevent the complete disintegration of Iraq. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, according to The Wall Street Journal, Obama’s »

Obama successes in the Middle East? The Washington Post can’t find them

Featured image I have been searching, so far in vain, for Obama foreign policy success stories in the Middle East. The Washington Post’s editors fare no better in their search: In Syria, where for three years Mr. Obama has assiduously avoided meaningful engagement, civil war has given rise to “the most catastrophic humanitarian crisis any of us have seen in a generation,” Mr. Obama’s United Nations ambassador Samantha Power said in February. »

Let’s make a deal — Hezbollah edition

Featured image The Obama administration is mighty impressed with itself for having proved it can make a deal with the Taliban. Now, it would like to make one with Hezbollah. John Kerry said last week that the Lebanon-based terrorist outfit could have a role to play, alongside Russia and Iran, in bringing about a “legitimate” political solution in Syria. The sky is the limit in these heady days of diplomacy, Obama style. »

Israel to expand settlement construction, as Obama’s Middle East policy collapses

Featured image Israel has announced that it will move ahead with the construction of approximately 1,500 housing units in settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In addition, it will proceed with the planning of 1,800 more units. All of the construction will take place in areas Israel insists it will retain in any future deal with the Palestinians. In addition, as I understand it, the latest construction bids would have been »

Obama foreign policy successes? Not Syria

Featured image We continue our look at Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East (see here for Egypt and here for Libya) with a discussion of Syria. Actually, it requires no discussion to conclude that Syria is no Obama foreign policy success story. The results say it all. Victory for not just Assad but his backers, Iran and Hezbollah. The rise of al Qaeda and other jihadist outfits in portions of the »

The Hamas-Fatah unity government is fine in principle with Obama

Featured image On Monday, it becomes official: Fatah and Hamas will announce the formation of a Palestinian unity government. Fatah is Israel’s alleged “peace partner.” Hamas is openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Where does this leave the “peace process”? Israel has been clear on the subject. It will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas. What about the Obama administration? It too is clear in its own way. »

The Enemy of My Enemy. . .

Featured image When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the life-long bitter foe of Communism Winston Churchill got on the phone right away to Joseph Stalin, and, while never forgetting what Stalin was, offered Britain’s help in staving off Germany.  A few days later Churchill said that he “would unsay none of his criticisms” of Communism, but that if Hitler invaded Hell, he would at least make a favorable reference »

Is John Kerry Out of the Mainstream?

Featured image On Friday, John Kerry suggested in a speech to the Trilateral Commission that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid state,” a comment that sparked an immediate backlash. The disgusting claim that Israel practices apartheid is a staple on the left and should be repudiated by everyone. But the more important point, I think, is that while Kerry’s statement was badly phrased–he has sort-of-apologized for using what Paul calls the “A” word–he »

Fatah-Hamas reconciliation could put Obama in a bind

Featured image Last week, as was widely reported, rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah announced that they had agreed to reconcile and will begin discussing the formation of a unity government. The announcement caused Israel to pull out “peace” negotiations, to the relief, no doubt, of all concerned except for John Kerry and a few stray Obama administration members. The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation has potential implications beyond the demise of “peace talks” that »

Abbas plays the “apply for international membership” card

Featured image John Kerry often seems like a man who can’t be discouraged, especially when he sniffs a Noble Peace Prize. But Kerry can’t be pleased by his latest humiliation. With talks between the Secretary of State and Mahmoud Abbas scheduled for today, the PA president abruptly moved to join 15 international agencies, a move vigorously opposed by both Israel and the U.S. The Kerry-Abbas meeting was, accordingly, cancelled. Abbas said he »

Dumbest John Kerry statement ever

Featured image John Kerry has said some criminally stupid things in his time. Recall, for example, this statement by Kerry from 2010 about Bashar al-Assad: Let me just say that I am . . . absolutely convinced that carefully calibrated diplomacy, that if that is what we engage in, that Syria will play a very important role in achieving a comprehensive peace in the region and in putting an end to the »

The Hamas Rockets: A Postscript

Featured image Scott wrote earlier today about the cone of silence that has descended over the Israelis’ interception of long-range rockets and other weaponry in transit from Iran to Hamas in Gaza. This AFP story adds a touch of irony: Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – Hamas unveiled a rocket-shaped statue Monday showcasing its capacity to strike arch-enemy Israel, as the Jewish state boasted its own haul of captured weapons it claims »

Obama’s settlement construction lie

Featured image Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly pushed back against President Obama’s Middle East narrative during the meeting of the two yesterday. According to this account, Netanyahu offered Obama a “history lesson” covering the last 20 years of conflict with the Palestinians. If so, the lesson was much needed. Perhaps it will spark a more general interest by Obama in the subject of history. It’s difficult to say which is more distressing, »

John Kerry trumpets the economic boycott of Israel

Featured image It’s ironic that John Kerry is spending so much energy trying to upset the status quo in Israel/Palestine, given that the status quo there is preferable to that in almost every other country in the region. As Tom Wilson points out, most Palestinians don’t live under “occupation”; they live in areas controlled and governed by the Palestinian Authority — a mixed blessing, to be sure. Meanwhile, Israel enjoys relative peace »

Freedom in the world 2014

Featured image In what Middle East country do Arabs enjoy the greatest civil liberties? That is a question worthy of investigation by the Middle East correspondents of the New York Times, the Washington Post and others who bring us the news from the region. Freedom House conducts a widely respected annual survey that goes a long way toward answering the question. It has just released its 2014 report, discussing trends and providing »

Gentlemen May Cry Peace, Peace…

Featured image This news story is offered without comment: “Peace meeting in Ramallah broken up by stone throwers.” Palestinians threw rocks Thursday at a West Bank hotel, shattering windows and breaking up a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. The conference was cut short and three dozen Israeli participants were rushed out the back door, put on Palestinian police buses and driven to safety, organizers said. Here, the protesters try to »

The source of Obama’s quest for detente with Iran

Featured image It has been my contention that President Obama’s deal with Iran on nuclear weapons had little to do with stopping Iran from obtaining them, and much to do with his desire to achieve detente with the mullah-run Islamist regime. As I put it here: Obama isn’t motivated, as Israel and Saudi Arabia are, by a strong desire to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. That’s not the purpose of this »