1. News & Issues

Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy

The United States has long term national interests and vital engagements across the Arab World and with Israel and Iran. This page includes key links and resources exploring those Middle Eastern relationships as well as the role of U.S. foreign policy in various regional issues and organizations including the Arab League, Organization of Ismalic States, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and more.
  1. News/Issues (13)
  2. The Iraq War (9)

Obama, Bibi At Odds Over Iran Nuke Deal
The "first step" agreement on Iranian nukes will no doubt increase tension between Obama and Netanyahu. Bibi has already called it a "historic mistake."

"First Step" Deal On Iranian Nuclear Program
The U.S. announced a deal with Iran that halts the Iranian nuclear program and provides for stringent monitoring. It is a "first step" toward dismantling part of the program.

London 11 Look Toward Geneva II, Hope For Answer To Syria War

US, Russia Pleased With Progress In Syria

Obama and Putin Will Not Meet
Obama and Putin will not hold a bilateral meeting during the G20 summit in September. Obama cancelled the meeting over Russia's giving asylum to Edward Snowden, the man who allegedly leaked secrets of the National Security Agency.

Obama's September 10, 2013, Syria Speech
U.S. President Barack Obama's September 10, 2013, speech on Syria was more about justifications and assurances for U.S. allies than it was about punishing Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons.

U.S. And Iran: Detente Possible?
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama did not meet at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013, but that doesn't mean a new era in relations between the U.S. and Iran isn't possible.

Framework For Destruction of Syria's Chemical Weapons
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on September 15, 2013, a six-point framework for the collection and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons.

McCain: Failure Of U.S. In Syria Would Be Catastrophic
John McCain described any failure of the U.S. to respond to alleged chemical weapons use in Syria as a "catastrophe." A catastrophe for whom?

Obama And Congress On Syria
For most of his five years in office, Barack Obama and Congress have had a rocky relationship. So why did the president feel the need to consult legislators before staging an attack on Syria?

New Chemical Attack In Syria Puts More Pressure On U.S. Regional Policy
Another chemical weapons attack in Syria on August 21, 2013, put renewed pressure on U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East.

JCS Chairm Outlines U.S. Options In Syria
A month before the most recent chemical attacks in Syria, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey outline possible plans of U.S. intervention in the civil war-torn state.

U.S. And Egypt: After The Bloodshed
The U.S. and Egypt remained in a strange diplomatic situation August 15, 2013, after Egypt's military government killed nearly 600 of its opponents. The United States' top diplomats condemned the killing of 580 (the number was rising at this writing) members of the Muslim Brotherhood in a bloody crackdown to dispel groups loyal to deposed president Mohommed Morsi. U.S. President Barack Obama, however, stopped short of ending American aid to Egypt.

Relations Between The U.S. And Yemen
Events in early August 2013 tested relations between the U.S. and Yemen. The United States -- a strong supporter of Yemen's transition to a democratic government -- ordered non-essential embassy personnel out of the country on August 6 amid fears of Al Qaeda strikes. It recommended that other Americans also leave the country.

August 2013 U.S. Embassy Closures
An "abundance of caution" in the wake of intercepted intelligence prompts U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa to close in the first week of August 2013.

Kerry Visits Syrian Refugee Camp
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan on July 18, 2013, in what must have been a heart-rending tour. It also sparked renewed outcry from refugees for American intervention in the Syrian civil war.

Kerry's Middle East Shuttle Diplomacy
United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced on July 19, 2013, that Israel and Palestine were close to resuming "final status negotiations" on the stalled 1993 Oslo peace process. That would be a major coup for Kerry, now only six months into his tenure as secretary of state. And in the process, by virtue of his many trips to the Middle East, Kerry is taking the title of America's chief "shuttle diplomat."

U.S. Foreign Aid To Egypt
A look at U.S. foreign aid to Egypt.

U.S. Foreign Policy And Morsi's Ouster
The July 3, 2013, ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi causes complications in U.S. foreign relations with Egypt.

Evidence Of Chemical Weapons In Syria
President Obama says evidence of chemical weapons usage in Syrian civil war is a "game changer," but what does that mean?

Barack and Bibi: Best Friends?
During President Barack Obama's March 2013 trip to Israel, he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed on better terms and in agreement on more issues than ever before.

Obama's Trip To Israel Offers Little New
President Barack Obama's March 2013 trip to Israel was mostly public relations, but public relations are an integral part of foreign relations.

U.S. Sends More Aid To Syrian Rebels
Secretary of State John Kerry announced February 28, 2013, that the U.S. is allocating another $60 million in non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition forces fighting Bashar Al-Assad's regime.

U.S. Recognizes Syrian Opposition Council
U.S. recognizes Syrian Opposition Council as legitimate Syrian government.

U.S. Warns Syria Against Chemical Weapons Use
President Barack Obama delivered a stern warning to Syria that it would face consequences if it unleashed chemical weapons on opposition rebels.

Clinton, U.S. Role In Gaza Ceasefire
As a ceasefire began November 21, 2012, in the eight-day-old Israel-Hamas conflict over Gaza, it became evident that Arab Spring had not eradicated U.S. influence in the area.

U.S. Energy Independent By 2035?
The International Energy Agency reports that the U.S. could be energy independent by 2035.

U.N. Warns Of Growing Syrian Humanitarian Crisis
As the United Nations warned of a growing humanitarian crisis resulting from the Syrian civil war, the United States announced it was raising its humanitarian relief commitment by $34 million.

U.S. Changes Ally Tactics In Syria
The United States is making subtle changes in its liaison group with opposition inside Syria.

2012 Presidential Foreign Policy Debate
Mitt Romney offered little substance in the final presidential debate of 2012, which focused on U.S. foreign policy. Instead he agreed with most of President Barack Obama's current policies.

Clinton Takes Responsibility
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took full responsibility for the safety of U.S. foreign service personnel in the wake of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens' death.

Romney's VMI Speech
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute October 1, 2012. Instead of offering new foreign policy for debate, he weakly tried to attach himself to one of America's premier diplomats.

Obama, Bibi, And A Nuclear Iran
U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree that Iran cannot have nuclear weapons, but their policies reveal a mix of personal style and politics.

Obama at 2012 U.N. General Assembly
President Obama gave his traditional speech at the 2012 United Nations General Assembly in New York September 25, 2012, but he held no meetings with other state leaders. That is a rarity for any American president.

Diplomats' Deaths Become Part Of 2012 Presidential Campaign
The deaths of American diplomats at the hands of angry Muslims in Benghazi, Libya, September 11, 2012, quickly became fodder for the 2012 presidential campaign.

U.S. Mourns Loss Of Ambassador In Benghazi Attack
An attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, September 11, 2012, killed American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

Obama's Indirect Moves on Assad
August 2012 saw the Obama Administration reveal several indirect moves against the regime of Bashar al Assad in Syria.

U.S. Special Envoy Encourages Russia To Pressure Syria
The United States sent a special envoy to Moscow on June 7, 2012, to encourage Russia to pressure Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad to end the violence in his country. Russia, however, is balancing its position as a Syrian ally and a factor in Middle Eastern diplomacy.

The U.N. and Syria
Kofi Annan declares that U.N. plan for peace in Syria is not working, and he blames Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad for its failure. Still, he has not given up on a peace plan for Syria.

Why No U.S. Intervention In Syria?
The United States led the NATO intervention in Libya, but don't expect it to do so in Syria. The reasons are many and varied.

Obama's Corollary To Teddy Roosevelt's Famous Policy
President Barack Obama invokes Teddy Roosevelt's "speak softly and carry a big stick" policy in dealing with Iran.

Obama Reaffirms U.S. Support For Israel At AIPAC Meeting
President Barack Obama's speech at the March 2012 meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee reaffirmed his comittment to U.S.-Israeli relations.

Obama's Policies Toward Israel
A look at Barack Obama's policies toward Israel in light of the 2012 AIPAC meeting.

United States And The Friends Of Syria Plan
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced a three-step plan for a democratic Syria, but it faces plenty of obstacles.

U.S. Officials Angry Over Arab League Plan Failure
Russia and China's double veto in the U.N. February 4, 2012, of an Arab League plan to stop violence in Syria caused angry reactions from American officials.

Building In Afghanistan
U.S. foreign aid to Afghanistan attempts to bolster governmental and economic foundations before 2014 when Afghanistan transitions to self-sufficiency.

Talking With The Taliban
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's policy of "fight, talk, build" regarding the U.S. war in Afghanistan appeared to make progress in January 2012 as the Taliban opened an office in Qatar.

A History Of U.S. Sanctions Against Iran
While the United States has had some sort of sanction levied against Iran for most of 30 years, few of them have levered Iran into compliance with international rules regarding terrorism or nuclear energy. By early 2012, however, evidence appears to be mounting that sanctions -- both by the U.S. and its global allies -- are hurting Iran.

January 2012 Sees Worsening U.S.-Iranian Relations
Relations between the U.S. and Iran, always bad, worsened in January 2012 as Iran sentenced a captive American citizen to death and verified it was enriching uranium. Meanwhile, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited American antagonists Venezuela and Cuba.

Perry Would Send U.S. Troops back to Iraq
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry says he would send troops back to Iraq.

U.S. Interest In The Strait of Hormuz
Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz points out the strategic value of many straits to U.S. foreign policy.

U.S. Formally Ends Iraq War
Obama, Panetta Formally End Iraq War

U.S. Opens Virtual Iranian Embassy
The United States opened a "virtual" embassy in Tehran, Iran, on December 6, 2011; within 12 hours the government of Iran blocked the site from Iranian internet users.

US Congress Blocks Aid To Palestine
The United States Congress as frozen aid to Palestine.

U.S. Foreign Policy in the Yom Kippur War, 1973
The Yom Kippur War of 1973 caused the U.S. and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to begin shuttle diplomacy to bring peace to the Middle East.

Mideast "Quartet" Counters Abbas' UN Request
Almost as quickly as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas requested member status for Palestine in the United Nations on September 23, 2011, the so-called "Mideast Quartet" announced a counter plan of its own. The plan was unlikely to solve the ongoing conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine.

Road Map For Peace
The Bush administration's Road Map for Peace in the Middle East is among the many failed attempts to settle the long-running conflict between Israel and Palestine. It includes criteria that lead to a two-state solution of the feud.

What Were The Oslo Accords?
The Oslo Accords, which Israel and Palestine signed in 1993, were supposed to end the decades-old fight between them. Hesitation on both sides, however, derailed the process, leaving the United States and other entities once again trying to mediate an end to the Middle East conflict.

Early U.S.-Palestinian Relations
The U.S., Israel and Palestine have a long history of rocky diplomatic relations.

U.S. Wants To Secure Weapons In Libya
The collapse of the Qaddafi regime in Libya puts new emphasis on one of the U.S. State Department's major policy components -- conventional weapons nonproliferation.

Hikers' Sentences Add to US-Iranian Tensions
Iran's sentencing of two American hikers to eight years in prison further strains U.S.-Iranian relations.

Treasury Slaps Sanctions On Syria
The United States levied more Sanctions on Syria on August 10, 2011, as it hoped for an international "chorus of condemnation" against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The US-Egyptian Relationship
Background on the US-Egypt Relationship from Keith Porter - your About Guide to US Foreign Policy

The US-Iranian Relationship
Background on the US-Iran Relationship from Keith Porter - your About Guide to US Foreign Policy

Timeline of U.S.-Iranian Relations
A look at the US-Iranian relationship from 1953 to the present including the overthrow of the Shah, the U.S. hostage crisis, the Iran-Contra affair and more, from Keith Porter--your About Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy

The US-Israeli Relationship
Background on the US-Israel Relationship from Keith Porter - your About Guide to US Foreign Policy

Timeline of U.S.-Israeli Relations
A look at the US-Israeli relationship from 1922 to present, from Keith Porter--your About Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy

The US-Syrian Relationship
Background on the US-Syria Relationship from Keith Porter - your About Guide to US Foreign Policy

The U.S. and the Middle East Since 1945
Pierre Tristam, the About Guide to the Middle East, offers this overview of American policy toward the region starting from the Truman Administration.

The Persian Gulf
A profile of the Persian Gulf, a region with great geo-strategic significance in U.S. foreign policy, from About Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy Keith Porter.

Iranians Elect "Moderate" President
Iranians elected a new, supposedly moderate, president on June 14, 2013. Does that mean the country is bowing to the pressures of western sanctions?

US Aid To Syrian Rebels Going Lethal
After confirming the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, the United States is changing the type of aid it gives the Syrian opposition.

US and Syria
As of June 2013, the Syrian civil war was 27 months old. Some 93,000 people had died in it. The US has organized sanctions against the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, recognized the Syrian Opposition Council as the legitimate government of Syria, given non-lethal aid to rebels, and, finally agreed to send lethal aid to rebels. Is the...

U.S., Russian Relations Run Cold
U.S. and Russian foreign relations ran rather cold in May 2013, as both countries accused each other of either spying or recruiting spies; the U.S. claimed Russia didn't play straight with intelligence that could have impacted the Boston Marathon bombing; and the U.S. Secretary of State said Russian arms sales to Syria were "destabilizing" the Middle East. Here's the gist of it all.

Kerry Announces $4 Billion Foreign Aid Plan For Palestine
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announces $4 billion private-sector foreign aid plan for Palestine.

Syrian Dilemma
As the United States, Russia, and France planned a second round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, the first week of June 2013 to find some end to the Syrian civil war, the U.S. fired a verbal salvo at cross-border fighters inside Syria. All the while, fears continued to mount that the war, now in its third year, is threatening to rope in Lebanon, Iran, Israel, and -- by proxy -- Russia and the United States.

U.S. Increases Syrian Humanitarian Aid
The United States announced another increase in humanitarian aid to Syrians caught in their country's civil war.

2008 Candidates on Democracy Promotion in the Arab World
The Council on Foreign Relations offers this summary of the 2008 presidential candidate's positions on how best to promote democracy in the Arab World.

MuzzleWatch
Sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, this site tracks efforts to stifle open debate about U.S.-Israeli foreign policy.

Who Holds the Power in Iran?
This handy organizational chart explains the distribution of political power in Iran among elected and unelected bodies. Click on any of the institutions listed to learn more.

Middle East Peace
This is the main U.S State Department site covering all major developments in America's role in the Middle East peace process.

Middle East Partnership Initiative
This project of the U.S State Department represents America's best efforts to promote democracy, economic development, civil society, and open media in the Middle East.

The League of Arab States
The Arab League is the leading regional organization of states. Twenty-two nations are members.

Security in an Era of Open Arab Media
This Web documentary, including public radio material, examines the political and social impact of hundreds of free and mostly independent, Arabic language satellite television channels serving the Middle East. Al Jazeera and many other competing outlets are considered.

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