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In-Depth Coverage
U.S. Middle East Policy
Middle East Peace Process
Original Commentaries
15 Issues To Keep on Your Radar in 2010  —
Erdogan Comes to Washington  —
Engagement with Iran: An Assessment of Options  —Karim Sadjadpour, associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Interview with Middle East Bulletin.
Setting the Record Straight
Changing Iranian Calculations
“The West is not deterring the mullahs. Instead, the mere prospect of their nuclear capability is deterring the West. Ahmadinejad and his friends sense their chance. … There is only one thing that can prevent the building of the Iranian bomb: the shutting down or destruction of the facilities that are producing the nuclear materials for it. But this will only be possible if the American administration revises its present course.”
—Matthias Kuntzel, author, “The Germans and Iran: The Past and Present of a Fateful Friendship,” op-ed, “Obama's Search for Peace in Our Time,” The Weekly Standard, December 7, 2009
“[I]t appears that while some factions support building nuclear weapons, others believe Iran can get most of what it seeks by putting a weapons option in place, without actually building a bomb. If this is the case, a negotiated agreement might actually change Iranian thinking about nuclear weapons. Once Iran began receiving the benefits of an agreement, the arguments of those who wanted to maintain the agreement would be strengthened, and the political threshold that would have to be crossed to build a bomb would be raised. A U.S.-Iran agreement would reduce Iran's perceived security threats—thus undermining opponents of the agreement. And by providing non-nuclear benefits to Iran, an agreement would bring other voices into Iranian decision-making (e.g., the finance minister or the oil minister), who may be less enthusiastic about Iran's nuclear ambitions and more sensitive to costs.”
—Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy, policy brief “Beyond Zero Enrichment: Suggestions for an Iranian Nuclear Deal,” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, November 2009
Middle East Analysis
Plan to Phase Out Subsidies Brings Frenzied Debate —Robert F. Worth (The New York Times)
An Iranian Nuclear Bomb, or the Bombing of Iran? —The Economist
A Window for Iran Closes and Another May Not Open Soon —Emile Hokayem, political editor, The National
Upcoming Events
The Road Forward on Middle East Peace
Event: October 1, 2009 - 12:00pm-1:00pm
Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Center for American Progress
Featured speaker:
Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL)
Moderated by:
Moran Banai, U.S. Editor of Middle East Bulletin
Looking Ahead in the Middle East
PM Netanyahu, Ayatollah Khamenei, King Abdullah, President Abbas
15 Issues To Keep on Your Radar in 2010
As 2009 comes to a close, we wanted to leave you with fifteen questions, some under-the-radar, about the year ahead in the greater Middle East.

1. AFGHANISTAN: What kind of progress will be made in training the Afghan National Army and Police?

2. ARAB PEACE INITIATIVE: Will the countries of the Arab League continue to support the Arab Peace Initiative and what kind of support will they give Israeli-Palestinian negotiations?

3. EGYPT: How will the situation in Gaza impact Egypt?

4. ELECTIONS: When will Palestinian and Jordanian elections happen and what impact will they have?

5. INDIA: How will India’s role in the region affect the situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

6. IRAN: How will the internal turmoil in Iran develop and how might it affect Iran’s foreign policy?

7. IRAQ: How will Iraqi elections in March, the scheduled U.S. troop reduction and the actions of regional actors impact Iraqi political reconciliation?

8. ISRAEL: How will Israel implement the 10-month moratorium and what repercussions will it have externally and internally?

9. LEBANON: What will be the result of the recent Lebanese-Syrian rapprochement and how will that affect the National Dialogue?

10. PAKISTAN: What will be the repercussion of the large number of internally displaced persons resulting from military operations in FATA and Swat and what will the government do to help them?

11. PALESTINIANS: Will Fatah and Hamas find a formula for reconciliation that will meet the international community’s requirements and allow aid to the Palestinian Authority to continue to flow?

12. SYRIA: When will the U.S. send an ambassador to Syria?

13. TURKEY: What will be the implications of the recent Turkish-Syria visa waiver on the countries’ bilateral relationship and regional dynamics?

14. WATER/CLIMATE: Will the countries of the region find a way to work together on water and climate issues?

15. YEMEN: How will the challenges Yemen faces, including a growing Al Qaeda presence and Houthi uprising, affect regional stability and the fight against transnational terrorism?
Background Basics
Obama Administration Efforts Towards Arab-Israeli Peace
Initial Steps
On his first day in office, January 21, President Obama spoke to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, promising them “active engagement” towards Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his presidency. He also pledged to help consolidate the Israel-Hamas ceasefire following the fighting in Gaza. The next day the Obama administration appointed former U.S. Senator George Mitchell as special envoy
The Obama Administration’s Statements and Actions on Iran
Since taking office, President Barack Obama’s administration has initiated a review of U.S. policy towards Iran led by Puneet Talwar, National Security Council senior director for Iraq, Iran and Gulf States and Dennis Ross, special adviser to the secretary of state for the Gulf and Southwest Asia. While undertaking the review, the administration has already begun to make changes in the way the United States engages with Iran.
January 20: In his inaugural address, President Obama
U.S. Envoys to the Region
George Mitchell, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace
George Mitchell has had a long, distinguished and varied career in public service. He began as a lawyer in the U.S. Justice Department from 1960 until 1979 before becoming a federal district court judge. In 1980, Mitchell was appointed U.S. Senator from Maine. He was elected to full Senate terms in 1982 and 1988. While in the Senate, he was a member of the Select Committee on Iran-Contra
Key Figures in Obama Administration’s National Security Team
Joseph Biden, Vice President
Vice President Biden served as a U.S. senator from Delaware from 1976-2009, including serving as ranking member, then chairman, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1997. He voted against the first Gulf War in 1991. In 2002, Biden became one of the highest-ranking U.S. officials to visit Afghanistan following U.S. military action in the country that began in 2001. In 2003, he voted for the invasion of Iraq, but later
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