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Not All Doom and Gloom in the Mideast

October 26, 2009

After returning from upstate New York this weekend where I had marveled at breathtaking views of fall foliage and enjoyed a calm, restful visit with friends, I was bombarded by the terrible news emanating from the Middle East over the last few days.

In Iraq, the horrible double car bombing that killed over 150 people was the most devastating attack to occur for two years and has analysts questioning whether the U.S. should keep to the troop withdrawal agreement. Iranian officials seem to be hesitating over the latest diplomatic proposal coming out of negotiations that occurred in Europe over the last month—leading to highly inflammatory language in the U.S. and Israel regarding crippling sanctions and military options. The Afghan opposition candidate, Abdullah Abdullah has threatened a boycott of the runoff election between him and current President Hamid Karzai because of alleged bias in the electoral commission. Riots erupted near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Old City Jerusalem over fears that Jewish groups were attempting to pray at the Muslim site. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is said to be considering resigning in pessimism about the peace process.

With the depressing stories mounting, I often find it difficult to escape the gloomy mentality that seems pretty consistently present when discussions of the Greater Middle East arise. Yet, at FCNL, there are in fact several indicators that give us some reason to expect some positive policy and political changes.

* The U.S. has so far been keeping up on its end of the deal to withdraw troops according to the agreement it made with Iraq. David Ignatius of The Washington Post writes today that the latest violence has spurred Iraqi resolve to maintain their own security.

* Reports seem to favor the probability that Iran will accept the UN proposal to ship Iranian uranium outside the country to be enriched elsewhere for their medical reactor—minimizing fears of it being used for weapons. This, analysts believe, will encourage further negotiation and diplomatic recourse.

* Peace groups have united to oppose a troop increase in Afghanistan at and Congressional leaders continue to show skepticism about possible escalation.

* Israel is considering an inquiry into the Gaza war last winter in order to respond to claims of war crimes made by the UN commissioned Goldstone report. Also, an alternative “pro-peace, pro-Israel” lobbying group, J-Street, is holding its first conference in Washington, D.C. FCNL staff is attending.

My recommendation for when you get the news blues? Get involved. The best way to prevent despair from setting in is to see all the ways you can make a difference by contacting your senators and representatives. Visit FCNL’s website to learn more.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2009 1:02 am

    thanks for this post – it's good to know that there is good news out there, b/c it is easy to just see the doom and gloom. keep it coming! 🙂

  2. October 28, 2009 6:33 am

    Thanks for sharing this, Kim….you are the RIGHT person to be with those neat Quakers in DC. Still miss you over here, though!Suzanne (Shadia) Shoffner

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