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What Trump and Clinton Said (and Didn't Say) About the Middle East

Sept. 29 2016

Analyzing the discussion of the region in Monday evening’s presidential debate—marked by the omission of any mention of Syria—Robert Satloff comments on the two candidates’ positions:

In terms of the fight against Islamic State (IS), both candidates replayed stock lines from stump speeches. Overall, Hillary Clinton’s paragraph on defeating the group was much more detailed than Donald Trump’s; it included support for Kurdish and Arab allies, a focus on targeting IS leadership, and a sequence of actions (liberate Mosul by the end of 2016, then focus on squeezing the group in Raqqa), all done with enhanced U.S. air support but not ground forces.

For his part, Trump did not go far beyond a commitment to massive military action against IS, falling back on his critique that the Obama administration permitted the group’s rise by precipitously withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and mishandling Libya. Neither candidate, however, addressed what most experts believe to be the most serious challenge—what to do the day after liberating IS-held territory so that it does not become the base for the next iteration of radical Sunni jihadists.

Clinton and Trump spent considerable time jousting over the wisdom of the Iran nuclear accord, including Trump’s remark that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, remains displeased with the deal. However, the Republican candidate offered no specific alternative to the existing agreement, and the Democratic candidate offered no detailed suggestions [about how] to push back against Tehran’s success in taking advantage of the deal to extend Iranian influence throughout the region.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, ISIS, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, U.S. Presidential election

 

Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations