Repairing 8 Years of Flawed U.S. Policy
What do you hope to hear from President Obama in his "major speech to the Muslim world" on June 4? How do you feel about his choosing Egypt as the location for such an address?
There is much riding on President Obama's speech to the Muslim world which will take place in Egypt when he visits Cairo University June 4th. It is no secret that relationships need to be repaired after 8 years of flawed U.S. Foreign Policy. This visit and what is offered by the president will determine what the next 4 years of Middle East U.S. Foreign Policy will look like.
As for priorities, this very first visit by the President must assure leaders such as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Hosmi Mubarak of Egypt that the United States seeks a new cooperative, respectful relationship that will serve the interests of all 3 countries, especially as those interests attempt to seek a two state solution that is fair and equitable to both Palestine and Israel.
The second is to encourage a much stronger, collective leadership from the Muslim countries of the Middle East and their leadership in accomplishing this objective.
The third is to be clear that Iran is a significant and emerging power in the Middle East. This will not be an easy sell given Iran's current isolation from its neighbors and the United States. Iran is a key player in eliminating the destructive influence of the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. And Iran's interests are similar to those of the United States and should be a common objective of other Middle Eastern countries.
The fourth priority is for the president to continue to press the cause of human rights in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, an issue that has often raised questions about U.S. Foreign Policy turning a blind eye to the issues of human rights violations in order to advance America's interests in the region.
The fifth priority is for President Obama to understand and to be able to articulate to Sunni Muslim countries that Iran and Syria, both Shia dominated countries have caused significant dissonance in cooperative efforts to ease tensions in the region. Sunnis and Shias must put aside their religious differences and hostilities that have too often caused these two interpretations of Islam to be roadblocks to Middle East peace.
For more commentary on Obama's speech to the Muslim World, go to the Saban Center at Brookings' Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World and the Doha Network.
John Bryson Chane
June 3, 2009; 10:37 AM ET
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