September 18, 2012

Not the Old Middle East

Ian Bremmer, New York Times

AP Photo

President Obama created a stir last week — in Washington, Cairo and across the Middle East — when he described Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government as neither an ally nor an enemy. The State Department later walked the comment back a bit, but the White House had delivered its message: We have no responsibility to fight this government or support it, and Egypt’s new leaders need our money more than we need their good will.

By signaling that Washington will try to get what it wants not by spending more money but by threatening to withhold it, the White House has again made clear that it will not lunge into the latest Middle East turmoil but will continue to keep its distance. This trend toward less direct engagement is playing out across the region.

 

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TAGGED: Arab Spring, Middle East

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