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Obama and the Muslim world
American foreign policy, vis-à-vis the Muslim countries are not likely to change drastically during Obama’s regime. Other than Iraq, Obama may not deviate much from the beaten track. US stand vis-à-vis the Muslim countries are important.
THE FOLLOWING is the position of the American government under Barack Obama vis-à-vis the Muslim world:

The Israel-Palestinian conflict:
 
America will make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key diplomatic priority from day one of Obama’s taking oath. It will make a sustained push – working with Israelis and Palestinians — to achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state in Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security.
 
The American government under Obama will strongly support the US-Israel relationship, and believes that America’s first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region. It supports this closeness, and will ensure that the United States never distances itself from Israel.
 
During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Obama stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks, cosponsoring a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria’s involvement in the war, and insisting that Israel should not be pressured into a ceasefire that did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. The American government under him believes strongly in Israel’s right to protect its citizens.
 
Obama has consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel. Therefore, American Govt. under him will defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel.  He has advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met. He has called for continuing U.S. cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defense systems.
 
Position regarding Iraq:

In 2002, as the conventional thinking in Washington lined up with President Bush for war, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against going to war, and to warn of ‘an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences’. He is fully committed to ending the war in Iraq.

He believes that America must be as careful getting out of Iraq as it was careless getting in. Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: of ending the war. The removal of the American troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe that America can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – more than 7 years after the war began.

Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. They will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.

Obama believes that the US must apply pressure on the Iraqi government to work toward real political accommodation. There is no military solution to Iraq’s political differences, but the Bush administration’s blank check approach has failed to press Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future or to substantially spend their oil revenues on their own reconstruction.

Obama and Joe Biden’s plan offers the best prospect for lasting stability in Iraq. A phased withdrawal will encourage Iraqis to take the lead in securing their own country and making political compromises, while the responsible pace of redeployment called for by the Obama-Biden plan offers more than enough time for Iraqi leaders to get their own house in order. As American forces redeploy, Obama and Biden will make sure that they engage representatives from all levels of Iraqi society—in and out of government—to forge compromises on oil revenue sharing, the equitable provision of services, federalism, the status of disputed territories, new elections, aid to displaced Iraqis, and the reform of Iraqi security forces.

America will launch an aggressive diplomatic effort to reach a comprehensive compact on the stability of Iraq and the region. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors—including Iran and Syria, as suggested by the bi-partisan the Iraq Study Group Report. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction and development.

Obama and Biden believe that America has both a moral obligation and a responsibility for security that demands that America confronts Iraq’s humanitarian crisis—more than five million Iraqis are refugees or are displaced inside their own country. Obama and Biden will form an international working group to address this crisis. He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find sanctuary. Obama and Biden will also work with Iraqi authorities and the international community to hold the perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable. They will reserve the right to intervene militarily, with their international partners, to suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq.

Obama and Biden believe any Status of Forces Agreement, or any strategic framework agreement, should be negotiated in the context of a broader commitment by the US to begin withdrawing its troops and forswearing permanent bases. Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. 
 
Position regarding Pakistan and Afghanistan:

The new Obama administration cautioned Pakistan that it would be held accountable for the security in the border regions of Afghanistan and that its performance in the fight against terrorism would be linked to the financial aid to them.

"(President Barack) Obama and (vice president Joe) Biden will increase non-military aid to Pakistan and hold them accountable for security in the border region with Afghanistan," the White House said in its foreign policy agenda document released soon after Obama occupied the Oval office.

Biden, a known expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan, then in the capacity as the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had introduced legislation in the US Senate in this regard.

Co-authored jointly by the Republican Senator, Richard Lugar, the legislation proposes to triple non-military aid to Pakistan in the next five years.

The legislation authorises USD 7.5 billion over five years in aid that can be used for development purposes, such as building schools, roads and clinics. The bill also calls for greater accountability on security assistance, to improve Pakistani counter terrorism capabilities and ensure more effective efforts against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The foreign policy agenda of the Obama administration on Pakistan is in tune with the well known policies of Biden, which was also echoed by the Secretary of State-designate, Hillary Clinton during her nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee early this month.

As the key points of the Obama’s foreign policy agenda revealed indicated, the new administration is expected to follow the key elements of Biden-Lugar proposals introduced last year.

In lieu of USD 1.5 billion of non-military aid to Pakistan, Islamabad would be required to making concerted efforts to prevent al-Qaida and associated terrorist groups from operating in its territory and make concerted efforts to prevent the Taliban from using its territory as a sanctuary to launch attacks within Afghanistan.

Islamabad would also need to ensure that it does not materially interfere in the political or judicial processes of the country, the legislation says.
 
Position regarding Iran:
 
Offering Iran sops like WTO membership, the new US administration led by Obama has said that it favours "normal diplomatic relations" with Tehran, provided it shuns alleged support for "terrorism" and abandons its nuclear programme.

"If Iran abandons its nuclear programme and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organisation, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations," said a White House document, which revealed the Foreign Policy agenda of the Obama Administration.

"Barack Obama supports tough and direct diplomacy with Iran without preconditions," the White House said.

"If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. In carrying out this diplomacy, we will coordinate closely with our allies and proceed with careful preparation," it said.

Iran is determined to go ahead with its nuclear ambition, against the wishes of the US-led international community including India.

The president offered Iran sops including economic incentives if Tehran abandons its nuclear weapons programme and its alleged support to terrorism.

"Now is the time to use the power of American diplomacy to pressure Iran to stop their illicit nuclear programme, support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel," it said.

The Obama administration would offer the Iranian regime a choice, it said. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is the best way to make progress, said the Foreign Policy Agenda Document.

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