Americans are following closely the three important Middle East-related negotiations currently underway, the Iran nuclear-economic sanctions process, Israeli-Palestinian talks over the future of the two states and negotiations to end the conflict in Syria.
In each case, achievement of agreement is consistent with President Barack Obama’s goal, expressed in his State of the Union message, to end America’s permanent war footing. Secretary of State John Kerry is the country’s point man in these three negotiations and seems tireless in his pursuit of success.
The most openly successful of the three at this point is the Iran nuclear effort. Iran has cut uranium enrichment, admitted international inspectors and taken other steps to demonstrate willingness to implement the temporary agreement. The United States has unblocked some of Iran’s money frozen in banks, and American and other companies have acted to begin to anticipate an opening of the Iranian market, a bet that the accord will hold.
The Israeli-Palestinian talks proceed, but there are signs of strain among both Israeli and Palestinian leaders that indicate both are being pushed toward necessary compromises. America, godfather to the talks, is preparing a framework agreement to put on the table to move discussions along. Smoke is rising from within the Israeli coalition government about some of the issues, indicating serious, realistic consideration.
The Palestinian Authority’s acting president, Mahmoud Abbas, is being criticized for his forthcoming position on stationing Israeli troops along a new Palestine border with Jordan. Israel is feeling pressure from increasing international movement toward economic and cultural boycotts. On Sunday, senior Israeli officials strongly criticized a statement by Mr. Kerry on Saturday in which he warned that Israel would face a growing threat of boycotts if the peace talks fail.
The Syrian talks in Switzerland adjourned Friday after nine days of painful fencing between government and opposition groups with few results to show. The Syrians did, however, talk and are scheduled to resume negotiations Feb. 10.
Any progress in any of the three is to America’s advantage.