March 20, 2013
In the first foreign trip of his second term, President Obama is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. The Washington Institute has prepared a series of papers and hosted several forums to analyze current events in the region and to help the new administration tackle an unprecedented array of Middle East issues. This guide, which follows the president's agenda, provides background on the trip and offers recommendations for advancing U.S. objectives in the second term.
Wednesday, March 20 - Israel
Obama to the Middle East: Expectations and Implications
In this video, Washington Institute experts Amb. Dennis Ross and Michael Singh, both former White House officials, provide an overview of the president's upcoming visit while David Makovsky explains the expectations of Israeli and Palestinian policymakers based on his recent visit to the area.
Obama II and the Middle East Strategic Objectives for U.S. Policy by Dennis Ross and James Jeffrey
In this new strategic report, veteran diplomats Dennis Ross and James Jeffrey focus on the issues they believe will have the highest stakes and implications for U.S. interests in the region.
When Barack Meets Bibi by David Makovsky
What two leaders who see the world quite differently must do to build bridges on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Obama and the Middle East: Act Two
In January, The Atlantic published a series of policy proposals for the Obama administration's second term by Washington Institute scholars. The full series is collected here.
Thursday, March 21 - Israel and Palestinian Authority
What Obama Should do in Israel by Ehud Yaari
In Foreign Affairs, Arab affairs expert Yaari advises the president to take a risk and advocate interim steps for the peace process in order to major contribution toward sustaining a two-state vision that is slowly fading in the minds of Israelis and Palestinians.
To Achieve Mideast Peace, Suspend Disbelief by Dennis Ross
Washington's former chief negotiator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict proposes a fourteen-point agenda to ensure that any new talks have a chance to be productive.
Getting the Public on His Side by David Makovsky
Persuading Israelis that he is committed to their security could help President Obama deal with Netanyahu on Iran and the peace track.
A Campaign to Talk Up a Two-State Solution by David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari
The president should use his visit as an opportunity to demand that senior Israeli and Palestinian officials consistently reiterate fundamental principles that allay the basic fears of both publics.
Mideast Seeks a New Commitment from Obama by Michael Singh
Managing director Michael Singh writes: "Our allies, to a one, want more American leadership in the region and greater clarity regarding U.S. policy on vital issues; in an increasingly fractious region, it is the one talking point they all share."
Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23 - Israel and Jordan
Will Jordan Be the First Arab Monarchy to Fall? by David Schenker
Why President Obama needs to focus on corruption to save America's most reliable Arab ally.
Saving Jordan's King Abdullah Must Be a U.S. Priority by David Schenker
Should Jordan be destabilized, there is little doubt that, as with Egypt, the outcome would be decidedly less advantageous to U.S. interests.
Beyond Elections in Israel and Jordan: The Ties That Bind by Robert Satloff
Israelis and Jordanians go to the polls hours apart facing strikingly similar political and strategic dynamics. While the results may appear to change little in either government, the issues at stake could hardly be more important to American interests in the region.
For Further Background
Iran's Nuclear Clock and World Diplomacy by Olli Heinonen and Simon Henderson
Against the background of international talks, Tehran needs to clarify the details of its controversial nuclear program.
Asset Test: How the United States Benefits from Its Alliance with Israel by Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollock
The authors highlight the numerous, often-ignored benefits of the special bilateral relationship between Israel and the United States in the areas of "hard security" -- defense and intelligence -- and in "soft security" such as the economy and industry.
A Conversation on the Middle East with Senator Marco Rubio
Fresh from a fact-finding trip to the Israel and Jordan, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) discusses the Middle East with executive director Robert Satloff and asserts that foreign policy should be a bipartisan issue.