Not that policy for the area is easy. Further to these posts,
first some news:
1) White House seeks to limit fallout from U.S.-Saudi tensions
The Obama administration sought on Wednesday [Oct. 23] to limit any damage to the long-standing U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia in a rift over America’s role in the Middle East that has underscored growing strategic differences.
A spate of unusually public complaints from leading members of the Saudi ruling family has shed new light on the kingdom’s frustration with the United States over its perceived inaction on Syria, its diplomatic engagement with Iran and its coldness toward the military government in Egypt.
While no one is expecting a rupture in a strategic relationship that has served for more than half a century as a pillar of U.S. policy in the region, some of the mutual interests that brought the two allies together have started to fray.
A Saudi warning that it is considering a “major shift” away from the United States caught the Obama administration by surprise but it did not set off alarm bells in Washington. The White House has shown an increased willingness to risk strains with allies in order to pursue U.S. goals of avoiding military intervention in Syria and seeking a nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s chief rival…
2) Criticism of United States’ Mideast Policy Increasingly Comes From Allies
As the United States grapples with some of the most intractable problems in the Middle East, it has run into a buzz saw of criticism, not from traditional enemies but from two of its strongest allies.
During stops in Paris and London this week, Secretary of State John Kerry found himself insisting that the United States was not facing a growing rift with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, whose emissaries have described strains over American policy on Egypt, Iran and Syria.
And during a stop in Rome, Mr. Kerry sought to reassure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that the Obama administration would not drop its guard in the newly invigorated nuclear talks with Iran…
Secretary of State John Kerry is at odds with several senior State Department officials over whether to press ahead with plans for a high-profile peace conference next month that is designed to put negotiators from Syria’s main opposition groups and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into the same room for the first time.
Kerry is strongly committed to holding the talks and has spent the past several days prodding key Syrian opposition figures to take part in the negotiations. But according to several senior State Department officials, some of Kerry’s top advisors believe that the conference should be called off because the most important of those opposition leaders are unlikely to come…
And now a view:
Fouad Ajami: A Lawyer Lost in a Region of Thugs
Obama’s foreign policy has been consistent from its first day: Let us reason together.
Lamentations about what has become of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East miss the point. The remarkable thing about President Obama’s diplomacy in the region is that it has come full circle—to the very beginning of his presidency. The promised “opening” to Iran, the pass given to Bashar Assad’s tyranny in Syria, the abdication of the American gains in Iraq and a reflexive unease with Israel—these were hallmarks of the new president’s approach to foreign policy.
Now we are simply witnessing the alarming consequences of such a misguided, naïve outlook…
Just as he has with Iran, President Obama now takes a lawyerly approach to Syria, isolating Assad’s use of chemical weapons from his slaughter of his own people by more conventional means. The president’s fecklessness regarding Syria—the weakness displayed when he disregarded his own “red line” on Assad’s use of chemical weapons—was a gift to the Iranian regime. The mullahs now know that their nuclear program, a quarter-century in the making, will not have to be surrendered in any set of negotiations. No American demand will be backed by force or even by force of will.
The gullibility of Mr. Obama’s pursuit of an opening with Iran has unsettled America’s allies in the region. In Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates there is a powerful feeling of abandonment. In Israel, there is the bitter realization that America’s strongest ally in region is now made to look like the final holdout against a blissful era of compromise that will calm a turbulent region. A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel’s interests and of the region’s moderate anti-Iranian Arab coalition…
From September last year:
Fouad Ajami: Muslim Rage and the Obama Retreat
We can’t declare a unilateral end to our troubles, or avert our gaze from the disorder that afflicts the societies of the Greater Middle East.