Saturday, 7 November 2009

Obama, Israeli settlements, and Iran

The Obama administration is coming across as "business as usual" amongst Egyptians. Its recent reversal on insisting on a complete halt to Israeli settlement activities is a clear setback. No one here thinks Obama is a hero for letting this happen; quite the opposite: back to the usual US inability to stand up to Israel. Wasn't it just a few months ago that all the Obama administration's top guns lined up to tell Israel and its supporters that settlement activity _must_ stop? Now they say: "Oh, settlement activity is part of the negotiation." R-i-g-h-t.

It seems the Obama administration has recalibrated and decided that getting Iran off the table for a while should be its top priority. And if shutting up Israel and getting it to go along with the deal being negotiated with Iran (Russia will enrich uranium for Iran, in Russia), if the price for getting Israel's acquiescence on that, is letting Israel off the hook on settlement activity, so be it.

It's a highly damaging policy for Obama's image in the Arab world. But it may just get him some traction on Iran. Let's see.

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