President Barack Obama will break his relative silence on the Arab Spring uprisings tomorrow with a highly-anticipated speech that is expected to outline the president’s vision for the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings and Osama bin Laden’s death.
The speech, scheduled to take place tomorrow morning at the State Department, will offer “specific, new” ideas about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa, White House spokesman Jay Carney said during yesterday’s press briefing.
He added – repeatedly – that the speech would not focus solely on the Arab-Israeli peace process:
“While we obviously believe that there needs to be progress in the Middle East peace process, there are many other important problems to address in the region to — for the governments in the region to answer the legitimate grievances of the people that they represent,” Carney said. “I think that, as we’ve said — most recently I said yesterday in responding to a question about activities by the Syrian government — that conflict is often used by other regimes in the region, by other governments in the region to distract from the problems in their own countries.
In the weeks leading up to the speech, the White House had debated whether Obama should outline a concrete plan for reviving the stalled Mideast peace process, but the administration reportedly decided not to include any specific policy recommendations, senior White House officials told the WSJ.
Obama is expected to address the recent union of Palestine’s Fatah and Hamas factions, as well as the ongoing effort to get the United Nations to recognise the Palestinian state. He will likely restate the U.S. position that statehood should come through negotiation and not by declaration.
The timing of tomorrow’s speech indicates that Obama’s new Middle East policies are connected – at least implicitly – to the administration’s efforts to revive Arab-Israeli peace talks. The speech is wedged between Obama’s meeting Tuesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his Friday meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.