Kerry's difficult mission

Updated: 2013-11-06 07:07

(China Daily)

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US Secretary of State John Kerry will find it hard to mend relations with its strategic allies in the Middle East during his ongoing visit to the region.

Kerry is visiting a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa during his seventh trip to the region since he took office in March. However, his visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel carry special weight as relations with these traditional allies of the United States have cooled dramatically.

Unless the US makes adjustments to its Middle East policy, even Kerry's intensive diplomacy will not be able to reheat relations between Washington and its allies in the region, said a Xinhua commentary on Monday.

In recent months, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel have shown increasing dissatisfaction with the US, and their relations with Washington have cooled to such an extent that they might even be described as tense.

Since the political turmoil in the country, the Egyptian military has been showing increasing independence, and while the US cannot afford to lose Egypt as a regional ally, the same cannot be said of Egypt losing the US as an ally. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is annoyed with Washington mainly because the Barack Obama administration has not launched military strikes against the Syrian government forces.

And recent contact between Washington and Teheran has triggered alarm in Israel. In the recent round of Iranian nuclear talks, the US also made some deals with Iran under the table without informing Israel, which did not go down well. In a move tantamount to pouring cold water on the US' bid to get the Middle East peace talks moving again, Israel responded by abruptly announcing it will build 1,859 new Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

For years, the US has tried to impose its will on the Middle East by strengthening its presence and influence in the region. To continue to project its influence in the region, Washington has to rely on its allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But the US has found that its policies in the region have become increasingly unpopular, and without any significant policy changes, Kerry's intensive diplomacy will bear little fruit.

(China Daily 11/06/2013 page8)