Obama Administration Middle East Policy Approach Evolving

Violence Wednesday involving opposition protesters and pro-government supporters in Egypt’s streets show the volatility of a crisis that continues to unfold. And the dueling public statements of Presidents Barack Obama and Hosni Mubarak the night before indicate that we are in the early stages of a crisis over how political power is distributed and shared inside Egypt.

Mubarak’s announcement that he will not run in presidential elections slated for this fall has not satisfied the opposition. The opposition views the roadmap for political reform outlined in his speech as insufficient. The unmistakable result: Egypt is now entering a complicated and quite likely protracted period of crisis-driven negotiations between the old order centered in Egypt’s security establishment that has run the country for decades, and a diverse and fractious political opposition to that order.

The changes underway in Egypt will have wide-ranging implications for America’s broader policies in the Middle East. How the Obama administration continues to manage its approach to Egypt will shape America’s position in the region for years to come.

Most of the analysis on how the Obama administration has handled the crisis in Egypt in its first week focused on surface-level assessments of the administration’s public statements. But it’s important to dig a little deeper to assess how the Obama administration is handling what’s happening in Egypt. Just as the changes in Egypt are probably in their early stages, the Obama administration’s policy approach continues to evolve, centered on four main pillars:

  • A diplomatic full court press with Egypt
  • A road map for a full political transition in Egypt
  • Managing the new regional security landscape
  • A new strategic communications plan with Egypt and the region

This post first appeared on the site of the Center for American Progress.

Photo by Frame Maker
Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.


Charles Webb
Charles Webb6 years ago

Replace Obama with Herman Cain in 2012!

Reem Abdel Basit
Reem Abdel Basit7 years ago

just putting in my dime here as being a representative of the people of the nation everyone feels free to speak on thier behalf, i belive we are the most capable people in deciding how to run our country, weither or not we are ready for democracy is our call and no one elses. i belive if the US goverment thought more about its own ppl rather than try to control other countries will they would do better off, days have shown and will continue to show what the egyptians are capable of without outside intervension.

Yvette T.
Past Member 7 years ago

Charles Webb, are you listening? Do you have as much intelligence, a Harvard Education, compassion and sound judgment as Our President Obama does? I know no one who wishes to impeach Obama, but I do know many who want to take Bush 2 to Court for War Crimes. Our current President is eloquent, rational, an enlightened humanitarian, and we need him to undo the great harm committed by Bush #2. I dare you to come back and leave the same ignorant comment after you have gained a higher education as our national leadership have. Too many Republicans and Tea Baggers are either College Drop-Outs or have never had the proper education to speak out on domestic and international matters, but, in their ignorance, they feel entitled to spew infantile insults and ridiculous opinions based upon vision-less imaginations.

All world leaders must speak out on these issues, not only our President! Why does the world expect the USA to solve or be held accountable for every crises regardless of the source?

Dan B.
Dan Brook7 years ago

Another Jew against another Pharaoh and all other dictators from Cairo to the corporate boardrooms and from Wall Street to Main Street. Mubarak must go!

Charles Webb
Charles Webb7 years ago

I wonder if Obama would be any more willing to step down than Mubarak is. After all, many people are calling for his impeachment. Is he listening?

Craig C.
Craig C7 years ago

The way I see it the world once looked to America for the freedoms we ONCE had, that's why they respected us at one time, not any longer they see us now as Global Citizens as they are. Egypt has not seen any form of freedom for 7000 years as history would tell us. I hope that the young people realize it is a good thing to have if you get and keep it. As for the un why would they leave when they are needed most at this time, looks like the un gave the middle finger to the people of Egypt not Mr. Bush. It seems that this country knew about this way before any of this started to happen and we did What to try and solve the matter before it came to what had happened now. The people of this country spend about 60% of their income on food, coming to a country near you soon!!!!! I have a idea lets give the fda more power to control what we consume. That will work. What we have is a out-of-control world!!!

John C.
John C7 years ago

If Obama backs the Egyptian people he betrays 30 years of American foreign policy. (A wrong headed one in my view.)
If he backs the Egyptian government he betrays all peoples of the middle-east who crave democracy.

Our policies have supressed democracy in other countries in favor of buying stability through taxpayer supported dictatorships. There are consequences for that.

True Democracy in other countries will act in the interests of their populations. Dictatorships will be loyal to their paychecks. The dictatorships that recieve the most taxpayer $$ are the ones with the most natural resources or highest geopolitical influence.
Supporting dictatorship will make the U.S look selfish, spoiled, and hypocritical. Allowing democracy to take root in these countries will not be pain free, and will lead to sacrifices on your part as well. You are a participant whether you know it or not. Not just a spectator watching a game on sattelite.

Nelson B.
Nelson Baker7 years ago

Whatever good intention tactics the U.S. uses to help bring democracy to Egypt we will be the losers when a new government is established.

Lynn C.
Lynn C7 years ago

Ask me if I believe this "evolving" policy! Our policy, is and has always been, to protect our special interests in countries that have something we want - almost always oil. I hear these words coming from a president who has bowed to corporate oil, and the financing of such, and know it will look good on the news, but in truth will be the same agenda with a gussied-up facade.

Joshua I.
Joshua I7 years ago

The Only PROBLEM Is that Obama and Hosni Mubarack are desperately trying to maintain their PARASITICAL Status-Quo, to live off the Mind and Effort of the PEOPLE without Mutual Benefits in return. Their only desire is to trick and deceive the people with a different leadership strategy plan that achieves the same Unrewarded Human Sacrifice result. However, this Parasitical Status-Quo has no future upon earth, and all those who intend to keep it here, WILL become extinct with it. I have no pity for Obama or Mubarack or any of them, they are choosing their own doom, and I say good riddance....