Assistant Secretary Feltman Underscores U.S. Commitment to Peace and Prosperity in the Middle East

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
January 7, 2011
Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey D. Feltman recently published an op-ed in Al-Hayat , a pan-Arab newspaper. He looks back at U.S. engagement in the region and looks ahead at some of the important decisions the Middle East faces in 2011. The text of his op-ed appears below.

Obama: A Commitment Toward Peace and Prosperity in The Middle East By Jeffrey D. Feltman
December 27, 2010

In the first two years of the Obama Administration, the United States has strengthened important relationships with governments and with people in the Middle East. Together we face an array of challenges, as varied as the region itself, which can best be solved through partnership. Together we are making progress and laying groundwork for building greater peace and prosperity, pursuing our mutual interests based on relations of mutual respect and commitment to universal principles.

In Iraq, the U.S. combat mission is over and our two countries have built a strong civilian-led relationship that will endure to both our countries' benefit long after the U.S. military withdraws completely next year. Our diplomatic mission continues under the auspices of a bilateral Strategic Framework Agreement signed with Iraq in 2008. Despite a tumultuous government formation process, Iraqis have formed their most inclusive and representative government yet. The United States, through diplomacy and assistance, has supported Iraqi leaders' decisions to promote national unity and self-reliance through political progress and economic growth and development.

On nuclear security, President Obama has led an international effort, recommitting the United States to our own nuclear responsibilities and building an unprecedented international consensus against to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Along with the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, the United States has sought constructive diplomatic engagement with Iran, in an effort to bring Iran into compliance with its international obligations.

The United States is the single largest contributor in the Palestinian Authority's efforts to build the institutions that will serve a future Palestinian state. We support this crucial work, along with the international community, because it improves the lives of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza and helps prepare for the inevitable creation of a Palestinian state brought about through negotiations. This effort goes hand in hand with our determined and persistent efforts to move toward a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the region that secures a brighter future for Israelis, Palestinians, and their neighbors.

In 2010, the United States invested more in educational and cultural exchanges in the Middle East than any previous year, with the number of Saudi students studying in the United States, for example, hitting its highest level ever. Our partnerships in innovation, entrepreneurship, and science and technology have brought Arab entrepreneurs to Washington, American science envoys to the Maghreb, and new ideas and vitality to our business and trade relationships.

Looking forward to 2011, the Middle East will be facing some important decisions:

2011 will see Iraq's newly-formed government usher in a new political era, as the United States continues to strengthen our strategic partnership with Iraq. Our bilateral relationship has moved beyond security cooperation towards strong diplomatic relations and closer ties in commerce, culture, science, information technology, health, and education. It will be critical for Iraq's Arab neighbors to further Iraq's positive reintegration in the region and bolster their relations with the Iraqi people as well as their government. In this regard, the decision by the Arab League to hold its March 2011 summit in Baghdad was a welcome step from the Arab world.

In 2011 Israelis and Palestinians will continue to face the tough choices necessary for the peace both people's need and deserve. For a negotiated agreement to come to fruition, countries in the region and around the world must support the parties in this effort. As President Obama and Secretary Clinton have said, the status quo of this conflict is unsustainable. Tough decisions on the core issues will be required of both parties. We must all work to help them.

In 2011 Iran's leaders will need to make a choice between continuing to ignore their international obligations or playing a positive role on the world stage. When it comes to non-proliferation, human rights, and respect for other nations' sovereignty, all states have a stake in upholding international norms and standards of conduct and it is time for Iran to meet its responsibilities.

And every day of 2011, millions of Middle Eastern citizens, of every faith and background, will send their children to school, start businesses to support their families, and work to improve their communities. The United States will continue to support these citizens through programs in education, entrepreneurship and civil society. Education, business and innovation, however, cannot truly thrive without open markets, open inquiry, and open, democratic societies. Universal rights, the rule of law, and political and economic reforms will help people across the region take steps to improve their lives, their communities, and their children's future.

The United States has much at stake in our relationships in the Middle East. The region remains vital for our shared prosperity and security. The challenges and threats of the 21st century know no national or regional boundaries. To tackle these challenges we must reject the tactics of fear and division. The international community must be firm in our resolve and work in a spirit of partnership and openness.

We also see tremendous human and economic potential in the Middle East. A region that once led the world in scientific advancement, trade, and culture can again take a leading role on the world stage. Gulf nations, for example, are stepping up support for global solutions to global problems, such as the U.A.E. and Qatar's efforts to develop clean energy practices and address food security. We will continue to partner with governments and citizens across the region to advance our shared aspirations.
A new generation of young men and women are coming to the fore in the Middle East and seeking their place in the world. The obstacles and challenges they face are not theirs alone -- their nations and their neighbors have a great stake in their success. In the years to come, we will continue to overcome those obstacles, forge common ground, and secure a brighter future all generations to come.



Michael K.
New York, USA
January 8, 2011

Michael K. in New York writes:

It is obvious no peace in Palestine is possible but co-existence between “cousins”-antipodes historical.

Probably, focus on in-process-of-finalizing-statehood Arab Republic of Palestine’s future inability to sustain a steady launch pound for anti-Israel activities is the most realistic task of current geopolitics.

The rest is mere technical issues of routine governance.

Syrian P.
January 8, 2011

SNP in Syria writes:

UNDERSCORE U.S. commitment to peace and prosperity in the M.E. is a fact backed by 50 years U.S. Foreign Policy, selling nearly trillion Dollars of the most sophisticated and deadly weapons to all those despot rulers in the region. The weapon sales are even secured by contracts to cover the next decade already. And prosperity, of course, all that USAID grain and powder milk for the destituted, impoverished majority of population. Nothing more UNDERSCORE that commitment than 50 years of Middle East wars, whereby the U.S. backed Saddam and Israel, culminating in the most peaceful endeavor the U.S. committed to in Iraq, killing more than a million Iraqis in few years. Why not say it as the people of the Middle East understand it. The U.S. is more than ever committed to Israel and oil/cash rich Middle East despots’ security and prosperity, as long as they send that stolen oil revenue to cover Government Saks and Raytheon balance sheets.

New Mexico, USA
January 9, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP (Syrian Nationalist Party) spokesperson,

Simple question; How do your remarks here in anyway contribute to the peace of nations?

I would suggest that here you present a good example of political stupidity in those remarks and the reason your quasi-political party has now been all but sidelined to the point that a sad, pathetic posted comment here is your only outlet to vent your party's Facist propoganda is self evident.

But hey, The US gov. has offered you the right to excercise your freedom of speech on this blog, which is more than Al-Assad would offer you any day of the week, so fire away...I find all this pretty amusing in it's creative revisionist history.

By the way, why exactly did you guys drop the word "Socialist" from Syrian NationalSocialist Party - the former SNSP some years back anyway?

Nothing has changed in your rhetoric or platform as far as I can tell, so was it because the Hitler model of political stupidity wasn't working for your public diplomacy efforts any more or what?

Just curious...(chuckle)

P.S. Happy New Year, and welcome back to the blog.

John P.
January 9, 2011

John P. in Greece writes:

@ SNSP Press Room

It’s about jealousy Bro. If you remember, SNP has a great plan (LOL) that can save Sudan in a day or two. Besides, the whole planet…

Envy I’d say…

I wonder why they don't save Syria for start.

The problem is that nobody can understand their “business plan”.

I have a couple of questions for the SNP Press Room:

1. Could you please dear SNP “spokesman” give us an idea on how your magical policy and ideas could make Sudan better?
2. During your propaganda hits, do you use DipNote in order to hurt the image and efforts for a better world of:
a. U.S.A.
b. Israel
c. Both
d. U.S.A., Israel and West Allies
(please check one, two, or all –we got a jackpot this week)
3. (Eric had offered you a great idea a year or something ago in order for you to reach a safe psychological level of discussion and comprehension) Did you buy these suggested CATs?

sometimes you make me LOL...

New Mexico, USA
January 9, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John,

I ask myself all the time what it will take to change mindsets. Certainly anything I may opine can't change them, as individuals and governments make up their own minds about all this that Mr. Feltman referred to in this op-ed and beyond.

I do however believe it is possible for an individual to change the nature of the global conversation to effect opportunity for minds to think, and thereby create a measure of perspective that may facilitate willing change to occur in the minds of a vast majority.

That is not to say it has any potential probability of releasing the fixated mind of their opinion of choice and freeing it to possibility, but that the many may effect the outcome of probability of physical or political nature in spite of the few that are attached to their status quo.

And so Presidents give speeches, and try to inspire.

Supported by appointees and civil servants with op-eds galore, on all points of policy and the road from here to there of such vision offered.

Pundits professing expertise may opine in opposition and doubt.

But personally I think more change of mind has come about through a single question asked at the right moment of the right people, than all the opinions and statements ever witten or speeches given on any given subject.

We the people must ask the hard questions and provide perspective to those with the burden of responsibility for the future of humankind, having a vested interest in the matter.

General Omar Bradley once said, "Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants, we know more about war than we do about peace, more about killing than about living."

Mine is a philosophical question:

At what point does the international community determine that the ethical infant’s diapers need changing, as the smell of ill intent has become all too overwhelming and noxious to Humanity? Or will ethical infants like the leaders of Iran and North Korea be allowed to remain in power to "dump" on civilization at a time of their choosing?

Well John, Once upon a time there was a fellow involved in Arms Control and Non-Proliferation that thought it deserved an answer;

Under Secretary Joseph:

"As in Omar Bradley’s time, the United States continues to offer the world ethical leadership, dedicated to partnerships that lead to lasting international peace and security, as well as to the development of democratic governments and the rule of law. The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism will build on Secretary Rice’s vision of transformational diplomacy by building consensus among partner nations regarding our most serious international security threat, and galvanize them to take concrete and sustained steps to defeat it."

It is my opinion that diplomacy without teeth is a toothless beggar.

We still have the same old's just a different day.

They are alive and well and have yet to be defeated.

I think this year is the year to do that.

The world faces a clear choice. To protect or not to protect future generations, not just those living at risk today.

Syrian P.
January 10, 2011

SNP in Syria writes:

@ John in Greece, SNP recognizes the right of the Jews to return home, the State of Israel as a Jewish State with Jerusalem as its eternal undivided capital, and for Jews to live in peace and harmony with neighbors, which includes Iran. SNP categorically disapprove with Hamas means and goals. It is solely Israel responsibility and interest to see the conflict resolved and Palestinian refugees are returned, or all relocated to Jordan, a state not recognized by SNP and considers it just as it was before the Brits installed a kingdom out of trans-desert region, an empty land of Canaan. This is the only policy available regarding Palestinians, they can not be domiciled in Syria or Lebanon. All other issues are solely between the concerned parties and no one has right to arm twist Israeli into compromising national security as the United State been doing since President Obama came to office.

As to USA image, SNP is no need to hurt its image, it got none left anyway, except in figment of imagination, memories of bygone era in the thoughts of official speech writers, and that is the very sad part indeed. Even sadder is how Europe today abandoned Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin, Channel and Dior and replaced it with the boom boxes of rap sound from culturally deprevated, gang style dressed youths roaming its streets. Just study Sweden for one example that will fit all of them anyway. Degenerated, from renaissance to bedounism in couple hundred years. Sudan!!! I don’t know anything about it, other than there is a genocide conflict in Darfur made up by oil interests. You can have it if you like it so much, Take Saudi Arabia too, in fact pleeeese do, Peek oil is not a theory, it’s a scary fact.

Saving Syria, hummm, where is the cash!!!, It takes Millions to save Syria campaign, SNP divested its insufficient party funds to contributing members when Bush Freedom and Democracy campaign turned out to be as expected, a fraud. Although opted to keep the political voice active and formulated a potently effective strategy that will guarantee SNP interests. SNP members like Bashar Assad, not necessarily his Baathist regime. They are upset not at what the President did, but what his Excellency did not do. Military campaign to save Syria is cheep and affordable, but a peaceful one, requires relatively large funding (about 50 millions) and longer operational period for the goals to mature, one that President Assad will be inspired to accommodate. The business plan is simple, Peace, Prosperity, Progress for the Levant region, part of its success is that no one should understand it. Because otherwise, no one will accept it, Chevron and Shell oil Management will not, it will fail. It is like the New World Order, Alien-Amen Illuminati Conspirators Strategy. LOL.

Syrian P.
January 10, 2011

S.N.P. in Syria writes:

@Eric in N.M. --Chief Strategist is the title. My trademark motto is “I rather have brain than money” There is not a spokesperson and no formal organization. It is that way by design. Pseudo-Party (your call) is a good designation for 4 Syrian Nationalist groups comprising 287 in total, averaging in age 61 and spanning 27 countries, and we don’t need more members, just the illuminated ones will do. Is SNP effective today? Extremely. Sidelined you say!! By whom, Washington, we have no interest in any association; it is a fatal liability in SNP interest area of Syria and Lebanon, even in Israel is. There is a standing offer for 3 years from a great leader, President Mahmood Ahmadinejad for 1.5 Billion Dollars to set shop in Syria and help President Assad, if we need support we know where to get it. So far SNP managed to survive independently, while others, small and big, who relied on U.S. have all folded up in desperation and frustration. LOL.&LOL;
So what -peace between nations- you are talking about? Are you blaming SNP for failed U.S. Policies now? It does not take a genius to tell you why they failed in the past and why they will fail in the future. SNP already recognize Israel, we do have interests we need to secure, just as others in the region are militarili attempting to do, we need the entire Golan back, no rental scams from Israel, and Iskenderun from the Turks. We have good relations with Jews, Moslem Iranians in Tehran, Russians and European Christian Right Nationalists.

No Eric, DIPNOTE it is not SNP only outlet. If we need publicity, will have one in one hour with 5 billions worldwide stunned by what SNP will present. Do you understand me? Our area of political focus is pointedly clear and the strategy is evidently working so much that you conveyed it with so much hostilities and belligerence in your comment.

Further answers to your sarcastic questions, we do not support President Assad Baathist Government oppressive means nor it’s Social or Economic policies, the United State and Western Governments /people do. Yes Eric, we are right wing fringe group of the Lebanon based SSNP. Our symbol is SSNPS ( the Syrian Senate and the Nationalist people of Syria) We despise communism and Socialism and consider it a fraud, a cruel and diabolic mean for few to cease power and hordes the wealth of others by deception, enslave the masses. Additionally, we disagree with SSNP on Israeli-Palestinian issues and unlike that organization, we want nothing to do with Bedouins, their culture, language, attire, customs or the incredibly deprevated tent, camel and goat milk history.

Hitler, Fascism, where did you get in
fo about SNP from? I personally never read Mein Kampf; I don’t know of anyone else in SNP or around me did. On my wall in the office area there are Seven b&w photos in modern glass frames on Copper grunge textured wall, they are, General Dwight D Eisenhower in Uniform, Nicola Tesla, Chiang Kai Chik, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, Pierre Gemayel (one of Lebanon founders), Nazim Alqudsi (Syria last elected President), and last month replaced a second picture of President Eisenhower in civilian cloth with John F. Kennedy picture.

Maybe it is the Symbolism that you are conjuring up these false ideas? The triad hurricane is the Lebanese storm god ADAD, the triad of lightning strikes that resemble in design German leader Adolph Hitler SS is the symbol of Syria’s ancient god of thunder EL, all ancient symbols. In the U.S. they also worship an ancient extraterrestrial Babylonian-Egyptian god name Amen-RA and place his symbols on currency and Washington monuments, even build buildings and make company logos in his eye of Horus idol image. Amen/Marduk is considered supreme enemy entity to SNP and his graven phallic symbols such as Washington Monument, Mosque Minarets and building edifice that resemble stele are forbidden.

SNP just presents undeniable and irrefutable facts, not fictions, and the views expressed are those of the majority of Middle East educated citizens. Recent study by a prestigious American Medical Journal reported that one in Five Americans are mentally ill. It is believable, just look at the Psychophrinic U.S. Foreign policy. It brags about freedom and Democracy and supports the worst of despots, the world’s over, who commits the most heinous crimes and human rights violation, repress every freedom given by nature to man.

Finally, one was under the impression that it is the Constitution of the United States and those of U.N. Charters that give SNP the right to speak freely, no one thought that this is a privilege granted by the U.S. Government as you stated “The US gov. has offered you the right to excercise your freedom of speech on this blog,” If that is the case, SNP will not post here anymore. We have the direct private means to effect policy and decisions of important world leaders and talking heads of global media.

P.S. Happy New Year, but goodbye for good.

New Mexico, USA
January 11, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

SNP "Chief Starategist" wrote:

"Sidelined you say!!"

Yeah SNP, like you wern't invited to participate in Syrian politics, and since Aminidijad is always willing to throw money at a terrorist org. and consolodate his grip on puppet's strings, I'll take it on faith you mean this; "My trademark motto is “I rather have brain than money”.

Because I flat don't negotiate with terrorists, but I'm talking to you arn't I?

So, apparently I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt you don't fit that qualification yet.

Actually it's not "sidelined" as in a political football game you were in , as the following comes from "country notes" published by the US Dept of State.

-Since 1963, Syria has been under Emergency Law, which effectively suspends most constitutional protections.

-Political parties: The National Progressive Front, an umbrella organization for several parties permitted by the government including the Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'ath) Party; Socialist Unionist Democratic Party; Syrian Arab Socialist Union or ASU, Syrian Communist Party (two branches); Syrian Social Nationalist Party; Unionist Socialist Party; and other parties not legally recognized but quasi-tolerated, generally considered opposition-oriented but enfeebled and reluctant to challenge the government. There are also several illegal Kurdish parties.

- the government was considering legislation to permit the formation of new political parties and the legalization of parties previously banned. These changes have not taken place. In addition, some 15 small independent parties outside the NPF operate without government sanction.

You wrote:

"No Eric, DIPNOTE it is not SNP only outlet. If we need publicity, will have one in one hour with 5 billions worldwide stunned by what SNP will present. Do you understand me?"

No I don't. Actually I was hoping you'd explain this to me as well as what you think is in the interests of "the peace of nations" -mainly your's.

This being the "official blog of the US dept of State" - a branch of the US gov- and hosting this forum as a part of an interactive government - I stated only the obvious, "The US gov. has offered you the right to excercise your freedom of speech on this blog, which is more than Al-Assad would offer you any day of the week, so fire away."

Or to excercise you rights of freedom of speech if you prefer to nit pick about semantics, it's not your constitution and you violate by bigotry, " Bedouins, their culture, language, attire, customs or the incredibly deprevated tent, camel and goat milk history."

And you ask as you pull some cultual superiority out of your nether regions...

"Hitler, Fascism, where did you get info about SNP from?"

Gee, Maybe it's in all that hatred of iconic sybology you think so important , or the fact that SSNP was founded by a Hitler clone after WW2 - and you say you're on the right wing fringe of that?

I really don't see as how you can be insulted by what I said or think my invitation as beligerant, but you do what you want, just don't go away mad.

I'm giving you a chance to convince me that your "strategic thinking" isn't associated with that kind of genocidal political stupidity.

But you know, when invited to tea and conversation with a neighbor in his house, you don't have to take a "dump" on his living room rug and call us genocidal...that's a little beligerant as well as completely false.

So here's the deal...if you can't understand me now, then just trust me on this;

Forest Gump was right.

(You can always download the movie.)


Latest Stories