Obama Seeks Reset in Arab World

Mark Landler
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — For President Obama, the killing of Osama bin Laden is more than a milestone in America’s decade-long battle against terrorism. It is a chance to recast his response to the upheaval in the Arab world after a frustrating stretch in which the stalemate in Libya, the murky power struggle in Yemen and the brutal crackdown in Syria have dimmed the glow of the Egyptian revolution.

Administration officials said the president was eager to use Bin Laden’s death as a way to articulate a unified theory about the popular uprisings from Tunisia to Bahrain — movements that have common threads but also disparate features, and have often drawn sharply different responses from the United States…

…Some administration officials argue that the heavy blow to Al Qaeda gives the United States the chance to be more forward-leaning on political change because it makes Egypt, Syria and other countries less likely to tip toward Islamic extremism.

But other senior officials note that the Middle East remains a complicated place: the death of Al Qaeda’s leader does not erase the terrorist threat in Yemen, while countries like Bahrain are convulsed by sectarian rivalries that never had much to do with Bin Laden’s radical message. The White House said it was still working through the policy implications country by country.

Even before the Bin Laden raid, officials said, Mr. Obama was casting about for ways to tie together events in the Middle East. White House officials had weighed a speech in which the president would link the upheaval to the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations — a process that seems, if anything, even more paralyzed after the recent agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the militant group Hamas

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

H/T Professor William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection in a must-read article, Obama Loses His Bet on the Egyptian Google Guy:
The New York Times reveals a fairly astounding decision-making process which led to Obama pressure Hosni Mubarak out of office (emphasis mine):

Interviews with several administration officials suggest that the tensions in his Middle East policy are less the product of a debate among advisers than of a tug of war within the president himself.

In Egypt, for example, Mr. Obama’s advisers say he decided to push for President Hosni Mubarak’s exit early on, against the advice of aides, after watching Mr. Mubarak’s defiant televised address on a screen in the White House Situation Room. Even then, they said, he feared that the dreams of young activists, like the Google executive Wael Ghonim, would be let down by the fitful transition to democracy.

One of his aides said that when he asked Mr. Obama to predict the outcome, the president said: “What I want is for the kids on the street to win and for the Google guy to become president.What I think is that this is going to be long and hard.”

The Google Guy is history…[and]  Egypt already has realigned itself to support Hamas and to unify the conflicted Palestinian groups against Israel…

Update: At Pajamas Media, Egypt: Situation Deteriorating Badly and Rapidly

…Egypt has more Christians than Israel’s entire population. There have been numerous attacks, with the latest in Cairo leaving 12 dead, 220 wounded, and two churches burned. The Western media generally attributes this to inter-religious battles. Yet Egypt’s Christians, so totally outnumbered and not having any access to the power of the state, have generally kept a low profile.

It is hard to believe that gangs of Christians go out and attack Muslims, especially when the fighting revolves around mobs attacking churches. “How can they say we started it when we are defending our church?” asked one Christian. That makes sense.

The Christians cannot depend on any support from Western churches or governments. Will there be a massive flight of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Christians from Egypt in the next few years?

The U.S. government has just announced that it will forgive about $1 billion of Egyptian debt at a time when the American economy isn’t doing so well. You can just bet that there are no political strings attached: no pressure over Egyptian backing of Hamas, growing anti-Israel policy, cutting off natural gas supplies, the increasingly difficult situation of Christians, opposing Iran’s ambitions and nuclear weapons drive, or anything else…

Read the whole thing.

H/T Neo-Neocon

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