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Middle East

Robert M. Danin

The United States treats Gaza as a pariah, supporting its isolation in an effort to undermine Hamas. This approach is counterproductive. Isolating Gaza only strengthens Hamas’ grip, perpetuates Palestinian political stagnation, and helps preclude the creation of a Palestinian state and peace with Israel. Reconnecting Gaza with the West Bank politically and economically, and reestablishing legitimate nationwide institutions, is necessary for an enduring Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic agreement. The Obama administration should encourage an end to Gaza’s economic isolation, national elections, and the formation of a regional contact group to promote Palestinian reconciliation. This does not mean ending Hamas’ diplomatic isolation, but instead creating conditions to empower Palestinian leaders looking to make peace.

Mark N. Katz

Far from being on the verge of collapse as many in the West and the Arab World had hoped, it now appears that the Assad regime in Syria has gained the upper hand against its internal opponents.  With Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese Shi’a movement Hezbollah all strongly backing Assad while the opposition is only receiving mainly light arms from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, perhaps this was inevitable.  The European Union allowed its arms embargo on Syria to lapse and could now aid the Syrian opposition, but it seems unlikely that any European government will do so unless the U.S. takes the lead.