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Idea of the Day: How the Obama Administration Should Lead in the Middle East

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The Middle East remains in a precarious period of transition as President Barack Obama heads on his first trip as president to Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Jordan this week. In this time of great uncertainty in the Middle East, the United States requires reliable partners to advance its national security interests and values in the region. President Obama’s visit is aimed at underscoring the importance of U.S. cooperation with Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians at this critical juncture. The challenges posed by Iran, Syria’s civil war, a still-violent Iraq, Egypt’s transition, and the Middle East uprisings require the United States to work with pragmatic actors to deal with complicated security, political, and economic challenges.

President Obama will arrive in the region at a time when many voices are questioning the ability and willingness of the United States to lead. Budget battles in Washington combined with the rebalance to Asia and the complexity of the challenges in the Middle East cause many in the region to doubt the United States. President Obama’s visit offers an important opportunity for the United States to assume a leadership role in dealing with security threats such as Iran and Syria, political challenges such as the historic changes sweeping many countries in the Middle East, and diplomatic challenges like the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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