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Elements to Effective American Policy in Middle East Revealed

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With its commitment to pursue regional security and stability in the Middle East, the United States of America today revealed the four inter-connected elements to effective American policy in the region.

In his remarks in at Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, Deputy Secretary William J. Burns says the fact remains that the United States cannot afford to neglect what's at stake in the Middle East, a region in the midst of transformations every bit as profound and consequential as the changes which swept over Europe and Eurasia two decades ago.

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Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, and Yasser Arafat during the Oslo Accords on 13 September 1993. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
"Stability is not a static phenomenon in the Middle East, and no society is immune from the pressures which have already swept away a number of sclerotic regimes." - Mr. Burns

He says it's important to use a wide lens in pursuing regional security in the focus of the Manama Dialogue and to understand that enduring security is only partly about military levers and military partnerships and counter-terrorism cooperation, as crucial as those tools are.

"It's important for Americans, self-absorbed as we sometimes are, to understand that the Middle East is not all about us." - Mr. Burns

According to Mr. Burns a successful, long-term American strategy in the Middle East is not an la carte menu.

The US doesn't have the luxury of focusing on only one priority and ignoring others.

Mr. Burns cites that it seems to me that there are at least four inter-connected elements to effective American policy.

"First is security, and in particular meeting the urgent challenges posed by Iran's reckless behavior across a wide front, and the related imperative of accelerating a transition to the new leadership which the Syrian people so deeply deserve." - Mr. Burns

According to Mr. Burns, the US shares with the rest of the international community a profound concern about Iran's continuing refusal to meet its nuclear obligations, and a profound commitment to intensifying economic and political pressure until it does pressure which has already resulted in a fifty percent drop in the value of Iran's currency and a similar drop in oil exports.

Mr. Burns adds that nowhere is this threat more acute today than in Syria, where Iran continues to prop up the bloody and repressive rule of Bashar al-Asad.

He says the longer the conflict in Syria continues, the greater the human tragedy for the Syrian people - and the greater the danger of spillover into a neighborhood which already has more than its share of problems and insecurity.

Another persistent security challenge is the effort of terrorists and violent extremists to hijack the promise of regional change and take advantage of popular frustrations, Mr. Burns added.

Mr. Burns says in the face of militant groups who threaten the world, counter-terrorism cooperation remains a high priority.

"A second element of American strategy across the region is continued support for political openness, democratic reforms, and successful post-revolutionary transitions." - Mr. Burns

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to such transitions or reform processes; much will depend on local circumstances and the quality of local leadership, Mr. Burns stressed.

Mr. Burns says the United States, for its part, will consistently emphasize the importance of respect for the rule of law; of peaceful and inclusive political processes; of protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens - including women and minorities and people of all faiths; and of steady focus on building strong democratic institutions and real checks and balances.

In societies which have gone through revolutions, we'll try to be plainspoken about our concerns, Mr. Burns added.

In Egypt, Mr. Burns says President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been direct in emphasizing the importance of peaceful, inclusive dialogue, genuine give and take, and forward-looking compromise in navigating toward the strong, democratic constitution promised by the Egyptian revolution - while also emphasizing the risks of continued unrest and uncertainty.

In addition, Mr. Burns emphasizes that for all its obvious fragility, Libya's transition deserves our sustained support. So does Tunisia's, and Yemen's.

"Nor can we afford to neglect Iraq, or the significance of its continued reintegration into the Arab world." -Mr. Burns

According to Mr. Burns, the US will continue to support the efforts of our friends in Morocco, Jordan, and Bahrain to stay ahead of the wave of change sweeping the region, and keep pace with their people's expectations and aspirations.

"Third, no political transition or democratic reform process can succeed without a sense of economic possibility." - Mr. Burns

Thr economic revival in Egypt, for example, is essential to sustained democratic change, he noted.

He says hard choices about domestic economic reform are part of the answer.

"So are generous conventional assistance programs." - Mr. Burns

The US long-term goal should be societies in which getting ahead depends less on who you know and more on what you know; and in which economic growth is revived and spread widely across populations, not just monopolized by a tiny minority at the top, Mr. Burns highlighted.

He adds that an economic awakening has to be at the heart of the Arab Awakening, so that the entire region can compete more effectively in the global economy.

He pointed out that as President Obama pointed out last year, if you take out energy exports, the region of 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland.

"A fourth element of strategy is a re-energized effort to resolve regional conflicts, especially renewing hope for a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians." - Mr. Burns

He cites that the status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is unsteady and combustible, and ultimately unsustainable.

Mr. Burns says the UN General Assembly resolutions don't bring a two-state solution closer.

Israeli settlement activity continues to corrode and undermine hopes for the only workable solution - two states for two peoples, a viable Palestine and a secure Israel, Mr. Burns underlined.

"It's time also to revive the promise of the Arab Peace Initiative, launched a decade ago and long-neglected." - Mr. Burns

He stresses that progress toward a stable, secure future for the Middle East depends significantly upon progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace, and it's a mistake to ignore that complicated reality.

However, Mr. Burns pointed out that pursuit of an American strategy in the region based on the four elements are much easier said than done.

"As President Obama and Secretary Clinton have emphasized, American engagement, American vision, and American leadership across the problems of this endlessly fascinating but endlessly complicated region are as important as ever." - Mr.Burns

With its commitment to address the serious issues standing in the way of ridding the region of all weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, the United States of America has underscored it fully supports the goal of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

US support to Middle East is unequivocal especially on regards to non-proliferation effrots.

US asserts that a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction is an achievable goal, but a long-term goal.

A WMD free zone in the Middle East can only be achieved once essential conditions are in place, most critically a comprehensive and durable peace and full compliance by all countries in the region with their nonproliferation obligations.

The United States continues to address the multiple instances of Treaty non-compliance that have arisen from the region.

The United States will continue to work with the other cosponsors of the 1995 Resolution and the regional parties to fulfill commitment made at the 2010 Review Conference to convene a Conference on the Establishment of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East, Mr. Countryman said.

Recognizing the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)in global security, the United States has underlined that the threat is not just theoretical, but also exists in real world.

The United States is committed to the complete elimination of chemi-cal weapons stockpiles in the United States and around the world. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Cliton has said, "To date, we have already destroyed 89 percent of our original chemical weapons stockpile. We reaffirm our commitment to finish the job as quickly as possible in accordance with national and treaty requirements that ensure the safety of people and the protection of the environment."

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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