27 dec Waiting from behind: Obama II and the ME
The Obama II government has quite a lot of dishes on its Middle East menu these days. After the wars in Irak and Afghanistan, it is certainly not eager to start a new one (with Iran or Syria). Concerning Syria, president Obama has resisted to all pressure, not wanting to intervene, unless chemical weapons get involved. Concerning the Israeli-Palestinian dossier, it is waiting, watching from the shadow as it were. The only very urgent case for Mr. Obama is the one of Iran. The US has tried all it could to contain the problem of the possible development of Iranian nuclear weapons, but has received no formal answer from Teheran yet. On the contrary, the ayatollah’s have upscaled their agressive tone lately. The former advisor of president Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-David Levitte, recently came up, (Le Monde, December 20) with an interesting idea: to put the Iranian and the Israeli-Palestinian cases in the same basket. Try to solve both at the same time and you will find the necessary global support to make it happen (at last). Levitte suggests that Mr. Obama shopuld talk to the Russian and Chinese leaders and urge them to take their responsibility. They should sponsor anti-proliferation in Iran in order to save peace in the whole of the Middle East and beyond, and at the same time enhance pressure on Israel and the Palestinians with the support of countries like India and Turkey. This goes far beyond the support of the UN Security Council and woukd be the beginning of a new political world order. A global support for a mega regional solution.
America should stop acting on its own. The role of scape goat is not a pleasant one. On top of this, Washington doesn’t want to stay the world’s ‘policeman’ and this is indeed a way to start sharing responsibilities. According to Levitte, who is now an associate at Rock Creek Advisors and a member of the Brookings Institute, the worst case scenario would be a continuing Syrian crisis joined by an upcoming Iranian one.
The year 2013 will turn out to be crucial, as the time left to solve the Iranian question has to be counted in months, not in years. Fighting nuclear proliferation together with imposing peace should appeal to all reasonable governments. Will the Iranian leadership bow for a broader pressure? Will Mr. Putin agree to join the responsible parties? How will the newly elected Chinese leader Xi Jinping react? The answers to these questions will come in the next few weeks. Or else a new war in the Middle East, with once again the US as lonely warrior, will be difficult to avoid.