*by Mohammed Aljbaili, J.D.
Exclusive for Al Waref
U.S. President Barack Obama inherited some monumental problems, from the previous Administration, which require immediate attention.
The acute financial crisis hitting all segments of the American economy has caused millions of people to lose their homes and jobs. Many are desperately looking for any type of aid to ensure their survival.
Banks, insurance companies, car manufacturers, and certain businesses are at the brink of financial collapse – and many are already out of business or in bankruptcy.
The government was forced to pour billions of dollars to banks and corrupt institutions in order to stabilize a market that is resistant and beyond stabilization – as many economists are indicating.
The economic and the political upheavals have been in the making for a long period of time, but they were exacerbated by the former Administration’s domestic and foreign policies – especially the neocon’s doctrine of pre-emptive wars and the billions of dollars spent to execute that doctrine, such as by invading Iraq.
These grave situations necessitate the reevaluation of both U.S. domestic and foreign policy doctrines.
The “soft” diplomacy and the willingness to listen to adverse powers are proclaimed as the new Doctrine of the new Administration, to replace the language of dictate and the doctrine of intervention. But the new doctrine does not exclude any means of dealing with issues threatening the interest of the United State and Israel. It also comes short in addressing the serious grievances of the Arab and Muslim population that continues to believe that the U.S. and their allies do not care very much for their aspirations. However, it would not be an impartial force as such, regardless of the verbal assurances by the new President, of a new policy toward the Islamic world based on understanding and respect.
There would be no significant changes in the policy toward Iran – besides asserting the interest of United State to talk to Iran face to face and engage it on certain regional issues. Blocking Iran’s nuclear ambition remains one of the critical priorities for the new Administration. The new administration will continue to oppose Iranian support to Lebanese and Palestinian groups that refuse to recognize Israel.
With regard to the U.S.-Syrian relation, which was going through many ups and downs during the Bush Administration, it is now undergoing some serious evaluation. Many delegates from Congress have already visited Damascus for that purpose. The meetings between the Syrian Ambassador Mr. Mustafa and the acting deputy of the Secretary of State, Mr. Feltman, and the visit by Mr. Feltman and Mr. Shapiro, a member of the National Security Council, are parts of that evaluation.
Syria’s relations with Iran and North Korea, and their presumed nuclear cooperation, are one of the worries of the US, because of these relations’ impact on America’s interest and Israel’s security. Reaching some kind of an understanding on this issue would be instrumental for the United States to renew its involvement in the peace negotiation between Syria and Israel, and to revive the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
There is no doubt that these issues are very complicated and will require a marathon of meetings and discussions because of the conflicting interests of the parties involved.
Also, one must not ignore the influence of the Israeli lobby, and other forces opposing the Syrian regime, that are against any rapprochement with Syria and are already at work in Congress to increase and empower the existing sanctions against Syria. They are proposing a stronger bill to punish Syria for its interference in Lebanon, its support of Hezbollah, for harboring Hamas and other Organizations, and for the alleged infiltration by Jehadists to Iraq across the Syrian border.
As far as the Syrian people (from all political background) are concerned, they are all united in defining the requirement of peace in the Middle East.
It is questionable whether the new Administration will become an impartial force in tackling regional problems and pressuring the Israelis to respect the rights of Arabs, withdraw from occupied territories (Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian), and to stop the building of settlements. This task gets more complicated due to the election of an extreme right-wing Israeli assembly and government that profess their intention to hold on to the occupied territories in clear defiance and violations of law and people’s rights to their land.
It is indeed a new era, and the challenges facing the new Administration and the world are tremendous. The promise of the new President’s policy of change regarding the Middle East will depend to a large extent on how the new administration defines its global interests, in general, and its relations with the governments of the region, in particular.
In the meantime, the Arab world needs to put its political, social, and economic house in order. It needs to assume responsibility for itself, rather than await policy changes from abroad. It needs to learn how to speak for its own rights and security. It needs to dedicate its tremendous economic power and wealth to further advance the well-being of their people.
*Mohammad Aljbaili is a Syrian American International Legal Adviser and the president of Council on Syrian American Relations.