Allies worried about United States' fading role in Mideast
By McClatchy Newspapers
Published: Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, 6:57 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Five years since President Obama vowed to expand relations with the Arab world and the broader Middle East, his administration is under fire from allies worried that the United States is scaling back its historic role as a power broker and in the region.
With a bitter power struggle intensifying between Iran and Saudi Arabia and widening crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Egypt, Washington's relative lack of influence and involvement has become a diplomatic problem and may be contributing to a growing threat from Islamic extremists, diplomats say.
Senior officials in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel have complained about what they view as an American retrenchment after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with some leaders beginning to chart policies more independent of Washington than in the past.
Secretary of State John Kerry sought to ease those concerns on Friday, insisting in a foreign policy address during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that “it is a myth that we are pulling back or giving up or standing down. ... Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Kerry said priorities in the region are to curb Iran's nuclear development, to break the bitter stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to help end the Syrian war through negotiations. Clear progress has been made so far only with Iran, which agreed Jan. 20 to a six-month interim deal that called for a partial lifting of sanctions in exchange for a freeze on its nuclear enrichment work.
Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states have urged Washington to do more to help rebel militias fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, and they were alarmed in September when the White House backed off its threat to use airstrikes to punish Assad's government for using chemical weapons.
Saudi leaders have been especially critical of Washington. Their frustration has become so public that the kingdom turned down a seat on the U.N. Security Council partly to protest inaction on Syria.
Gulf states are fearful that the White House is seeking not just a deal to limit Iran's nuclear efforts, but a broader rapprochement with Tehran. Some gulf officials warn that they may bolt from longtime security agreements with the United States and work out their own deals with Iran if they see Washington move toward an accommodation with Tehran.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Senator: CIA improperly searched computer network
- Prostitution found to have vast economic impact
- NTSB chair Hersman steps down
- Expats renounce citizenship over U.S. tax hassles
- Georgia wants ‘slow poke’ drivers to stay in right lane
- Lerner emails looked for way out of difficulties at the IRS
- FDA approves migraine treatment device
- Mo. man freed in editor’s death sues for $100M
- U.S. denials of specialized work visas soar
- Attack cat to receive medical treatment, therapy
- Wikileaks founder teases about more secrets to be released