As her tenure as Secretary of State draws to a close, Hillary Clinton is going on an absolute tear across the Middle East.She made a number of controversial comments during a foreign policy forum in Washington, hosted by the Saban centre for Middle East Policy.
We’ll start with her position on Israel:
Despite the fact that the country agreed to loosen its choke-hold on the Gaza Strip, Hillary is still hammering Netanyahu on his refusal to curb Israeli settlements—3,000 of which are still approved for construction. Clinton made the comments following the U.N.’s historic recognition of Palestine as a ‘nonmember state.’
“In light of today’s announcement, let me reiterate that this administration — like previous administrations — has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace,” Clinton said on Friday .
Reporters from Al Jazeera note that both “Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, and Ehud Barak, defence minister, were in the audience when she made her remarks.”
Clinton wasn’t done yet though. She then dropped this bomb on Iran’s nuclear program:
“We are working on the P5+1 and making our willingness known that we are ready to have a bilateral discussion if they are every ready to engage,” said Clinton.
Though the comments are not far off of what President Barack Obama said just days into his first term, still there’s bound to be international push back from any “bilateral” engagements with what many countries have labelled a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
Hillary also drew a “red line” in the sand on Syria, reiterating that any use of chemical weapons would result in direct action from the United States.
“I am not going to telegraph any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people, but suffice to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur,” she said.
Though she didn’t spell out exactly what that action would be, State Department officials told Reuters that there’s no intention to instate a ‘no fly zone,’ indicating that something more aggressive would come into play.
Meanwhile, Russia has aggressively blocked any U.N. sanctions against the Assad regime, and will likely continue to resist American foreign policy in spite of an upcoming vote to install Patriot missiles along the Turkish border.
Clinton’s tough stances come on the eve of her largely figurehead role in the Israel-Gaza peace talks. Morsi, who took the lead, has since sought to seize more power in the wake of his success in Gaza—to which Clinton urged that power should not be “concentrated in too few hands.”
The fact remains though, right at the moment when the Middle East seemed to be coming apart at the seams, Clinton stepped in with some tough talk. It remains to be seen though if that talk will turn into credible action.
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