In a Jan. 13th. blog in Spanish ( http://2009-retos-crisis-1.blogspot.com/ ) about the challenges the world crisis has brought about, my analysis foresaw changes the Obama victory would undertake and some of the difficulties the new Administrations would be faced with. My closing remarks on the Middle East are now slowly becoming a reality.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s election as Israel’s new Prime Minister and his forced alliance with the ultra-right leader Avignor Lieberman have been cause of concern in all diplomatic chancelleries all over the world. The first actions of the 30-member cabinet have proved to be more belligerent than Olmert’s outgoing team, inciting Iran to counteract with its own anti-Israeli tirade.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has undergone through a tensing process that not even President Obama’s extended hand towards Iran’s President Ahmadineyad seems to have calmed. The ticklish issue is one of the outstanding priorities of the White House in its crusade towards a new U.S. foreign affairs image. April has been a relevant month with previous summits that have taken the President to several European cities, Turkey and finally a surprise visit to Iraq. However, Obama has clearly avoided further contact with the candent Middle East scenario. Hillary Clinton’s official visit to the hotspot, bolstered by the follow-up by U.S. envoy George Mitchell proved sufficient exposure at this stage.
What has worried the U.S. Administration is precisely the transfer of the Middle East confrontation to another front, a U.N.-sponsored summit on racism where Ahmadineyad was to meet Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Several governments headed by the United States decided to decline the invitation to avoid possible exposure to a diplomatic incident. Said concern was not at all unfounded, with Iran’s President provoking not only the ire of the Israeli delegation but the consternation of several diplomats from the European delegation who abandoned the conference in protest. White House fears have indeed materialised far beyond a territorial dispute to end in a serious diplomatic fiasco with the United Nations sitting atop the simmering Middle East volcano.
Madrid, April 20, 2009