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Obama goes big in the Middle East

The US-Russia agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons, a possible nuclear deal with Iran, and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are all signs that the Obama administration may be charting a new course in the region.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 24, 2013. 


There is nothing in the resumé of President Barack Obama to suggest that he considers himself a strategic thinker when it comes to foreign affairs. Unlike President Nixon and his policy muse Henry Kissinger, or even Jimmy Carter who brokered the strategic partnership between Israel and Egypt, Obama has yet to evince much interest in remaking the world. Foreign affairs under his watch has been more about disengaging — from Iraq and Afghanistan in particular — than in grandiose designs for a new world order.

However, in the Middle East Obama may be drawn into a becoming a key and enthusiastic architect in the region's strategic transformation. After years of thinking small, tinkering without great impact at the margins of Middle East affairs, he may well find himself today in history's sweet spot — well-placed to be “present at the creation” of a new regional strategic agenda. 

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