A flaunted closer bond between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli-Turkish relations cooling down and a lightly mitigated – but not that much – Israeli position regarding Iran’s nuclear program (at least in speeches). Here is the balance of Barack Obama’s trip in the Near East.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have to wait, given Barack Obama’s – expected – lack of proposals.
To the optimists, a solution to the conflict might be near. Indeed The United States, who is losing influence in the Middle East, might be tempted to put pressure on Israel, in order to regain some influence in Arab States.
Yet, this solution remains elusive. The United States are indeed losing influence in the Middle East, as former national security advisor to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski told French newspaper Le Monde:
United States’ image has never been so poor. More worrying is America’s influence, that has never been that weak since the United States got involved in the Middle East after World War II, an involvement that Arabs had welcomed because, to them, it replaced the French-British imperialism. And of course, Americans’ constant inability to promote any solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict constituted another factor of our weakening influence in the Region
I do not think Westerners can do anything: the West has not that much credibility in the Middle East. French and British are still perceived as suspicious, the United States have disappointed and the Russians do not count. Arab Countries will have to sort this out by themselves, county by country.
With the rise of China, the increasing difficulties to engage Arab countries whose political stages have become anew plural because of (or thanks to, it depends on your point of view…) the 2011 spark, and to some extent the upcoming reduced dependency of US market on foreign oil… The United States might just not be interested in the Near and Middle East anymore, as it represents to much trouble and there are more pressing issues.
Of course Iran remains a threat and will call for engagement or action. Yet, Iran is a distinct matter from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Furthermore, Barack Obama might be more attracted by a passive stance in which only his lack of action will be pointed out by Palestinians and their supports. A more active stance, including pressures on Israel, might cost to Barrack Obama if it failed.
Thus, in a context of economic hardships, a moribund Palestinian Authority and generational conflicts in Arab states, this expression of US passiveness is just another factor adding to the growing discontent in Gaza and the West Bank. How much time before a – likely – third intifada?