Middle East Challenges Loom Following Obama Re-election
Barack Obama won a second term presidential term on November 6, defeating Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi congratulated Obama, stressing the importance of reinforcing bilateral relations between the two nations. However, Amena Bakr highlighted that many in the Middle East are glad Obama won, but they aren’t ecstatic. Saudi political analyst Khaled al-Dakheel agreed. “I have the feeling that people in the region are not as enthusiastic as they were in 2008 about the whole American presidential campaign,” he said.
“Mr. Obama finds himself in the enviable position of being free to set policy without worrying about the next election,” The National noted. “But the window of opportunity between being an effective president and a lame-duck leader is short.” Tamara Cofman Wittes said four main challenges for the administration in the Middle East include the Syrian situation, engagement with new practitioners of Arab Democracy, leveraging positive American involvement, and sustaining support for democratic reform region-wide, even where America has keen security interests at stake.
However, Steven Heydemann, a Middle East expert at the United States Institute for Peace, expressed doubt that there would be immediate changes to policy on Syria. “I don’t think it will be on a list of the priorities for the new administration in the immediate aftermath of the election,” Heydemann said. Christopher Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the CATO Institute, agreed, saying U.S. public opinion against any new U.S. military interventions is unlikely to shift, “barring some very dramatic change.”