Obama's Mideast Speech: The 5 Topics That Matter

Josh Gerstein lays out the hot-button points
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2011 7:51 AM CDT
US President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic fundraiser at the Boston Center for the Arts May 18, 2011.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama will give a major speech on the Mideast at 11:40am ET today, in which he'll share his vision of the role America should play in a region that's been battling unrest for four months now. Josh Gerstein provides a primer on Politico. Your ears should perk up when Obama broaches these five topics:

  • Syria: How far will he go, asks Gerstein? We just slapped sanctions on Bashar al-Assad, but some lawmakers want Obama to flat-out call for Assad to go, as he did with Hosni Mubarak in Egypt (which worked) and Moammar Gadhafi (which hasn't). Gerstein thinks it's unlikely he'll go that far, though. "The president may not want to add to the list of dictators thumbing their noses at the US."

  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Don't expect him to say too much on this topic—"in part because the peace process has ground to a near standstill and in part because confusion abounds about how a recent power-sharing deal between Fatah and Hamas will affect any chance for peace negotiations," writes Gerstein. But if he does, it'll be big news.
  • A Mideast Marshall Plan? Mideast Envoy Jim Jones pushed the idea this week, arguing that Western cash could help propel the fledgling democracies forward. Obama is expected to announce new aid to both Egypt and Tunisia today ... but that will likely add up to a few billion. The Marshall Plan, in today's dollars, was worth $120 billion, notes Gerstein.
Head to Politico for Gerstein's last two talking points: "Will Obama lay out a uniform doctrine, or improvise?" and the all important "What's next?"

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