Back to Balancing in the Middle East: A New Strategy for Constructive Engagement

Martin S. Indyk and
Martin S. Indyk
Martin S. Indyk Former Brookings Expert, Distinguished Fellow - The Council on Foreign Relations
Tamara Cofman Wittes

February 28, 2007

Peace in the Middle East remains an elusive goal. Yet a failure to engage has profound consequences for America’s security interests and home and abroad. The next President will have no choice but to return to balance-of-power diplomacy in the Middle East that includes bilateral negotiations with Iran; regional security agreements; and getting the Arab-Israel peace process back on track.

The next President should support policies that include these specific elements:

  • a renewed effort at Arab-Israeli reconciliation that might also split the Syrian regime from Iran containment of the spillover effects of civil war in Iraq
  • negotiations with Iran to attempt to head off its nuclear ambitions, including bilateral engagement to address broader concerns
  • regional security arrangements to contain the Iranian threat and prevent a Middle East nuclear arms race, if necessary, sheltering our allies under a nuclear umbrella
  • a political and economic reform agenda that helps create a new social contract between Arab governments and their citizens
  • in less secure countries, an emphasis on building democratic institutions more than holding democratic elections

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