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U.S. - Mideast Strategy

Tunisia's Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem (L), U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (C) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague attend a conference of the Friends of Syria group in Marrakech December 12, 2012.

A successful, long-term strategy in the Middle East requires a comprehensive approach.

A successful, long-term strategy in the Middle East requires a comprehensive approach, said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

U.S. Middle East Strategy
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An important element of that is security, in particular meeting the critical challenges posed by Iran's race to build a nuclear weapon. “We share with the rest of the international community,” said Deputy Secretary Burns, “a profound concern about Iran’s continuing refusal to meet its nuclear obligations, and a profound commitment to intensifying economic and political pressure until it does. . . .The United States is ready for a serious negotiation, along with our P5+1 partners, if Iran is serious about meeting its international obligations.”

In Syria, the Iranian regime continues to prop up the bloody and repressive rule of Bashar al-Assad. In an effort to bring an end to the bloodshed and make possible a democratic transition, the United States is supporting the new Syrian Opposition Coalition as well as working with civil society groups inside Syria. The U.S. has provided over $200 million in humanitarian and over $50 million in non-lethal assistance and supported NATO’s deployment of the Patriot anti-missile defense system to Turkey.

At the same time, the U.S. continues the fight against terrorism across the region.

A second part of U.S. strategy in the Middle East is to support political openness, democratic reforms, and successful post-revolutionary transitions. In Egypt, the United States has stressed the importance of peaceful, inclusive dialogue, and compromise in navigating toward the democratic constitution promised by the Egyptian revolution. Libya’s transition will continue to receive U.S. support, as will the transitions in Tunisia and Yemen.

Third, no political transition or democratic reform process can succeed without economic opportunity. An economic awakening has to be at the heart of the Arab Awakening, so that the entire region can compete more effectively in the global economy. To spur growth in Egypt and Tunisia, the U.S. is planning to expand the Enterprise Fund programs to strengthen small and medium-sized businesses.

And finally, the fourth element of strategy is to re-energize efforts to resolve regional conflicts, especially renewing hope for a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.

There is nothing inevitable about the success of post-revolutionary transitions underway in the Middle East, and there are many forces eager to hijack their promise. That's why American engagement and American vision are as important as ever as we work with people across the Middle East to shape events in a positive direction.