Inside the Middle East
January 22, 2009
Posted: 1455 GMT


The Obama administration has named former American senator George Mitchell to be special envoy to the Middle East, sources told CNN.

Internationally, Mitchell is best known for his work as the man who helped broker an agreement between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, a dispute, at times,  just as bitter as the one between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mitchell served as a Mideast envoy for the Bush administration, authoring a 2001 report that called for a halt to Israeli settlements and greater Palestinian efforts to crack down on terror.

What do you think of the Mitchell nomination?

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Filed under: George Mitchell •Obama

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January 21, 2009
Posted: 1642 GMT

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama placed several calls to leaders across the Middle East Wednesday morning, a senior administration official said, hitting the ground running in an unstable region of the world that has consumed several past U.S. administrations.

In his first calls to world leaders since becoming president, Obama phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan's King Abdullah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarack, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The president is expected by many political observers to appoint a special Middle East envoy within the next few days or weeks.

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December 31, 2008
Posted: 1313 GMT

Check out Ed Henry's report on why some are voicing criticism over President-Elect Barack Obama's reaction – or lack thereof – to the Gaza crisis.

What do you think?

Filed under: Gaza •Obama

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December 30, 2008
Posted: 1826 GMT


(CNN) - The former U.S. special envoy to the Middle East said Tuesday that President-elect Barack Obama should engage with Hamas under certain conditions, and sooner rather than later.

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni said if Obama hopes to forge a peace deal, he needs to do it at the beginning of his administration.

"You make a commitment that no matter what happens, you'll stick with it," Zinni said on CNN's "American Morning." "We have enough agreements in principle that never worked out. I would say - start from the beginning, be determined, stick with it and don't repeat the mistakes of the past and the processes of the past that did not work."

In order for the new administration to engage with Hamas, Zinni said the militant group must be willing to end its rocket attacks and violence against Israel and commit to a peace process.

In the long term, Zinni said, the next administration will have to take a new approach in dealing with the problem.

"The old way of using envoys and summits and us putting plans on the table - that has never worked. I think we need a fresh start, more involved, a greater presence on the ground and a commitment to do it throughout the term of an administration," Zinni said.

What do you think? Make your views heard by adding a comment below.

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Filed under: Gaza •Hamas •Israel •Obama

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December 28, 2008
Posted: 2042 GMT


So far, no public statement from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on the Gaza situation, but we are hearing from aides that he has spoken to American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in an eight-minute phone call.

"The president-elect appreciated the call and the information from Secretary Rice," one aide said, adding that Obama initiated the phone call. "He will continue to closely monitor these and other global events."

Barack Obama takes office January 20th.

What do you think an Obama administration needs to do to bring a resolution to the current conflict?

Make you views heard by leaving a comment below.

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Filed under: Gaza •Israel •Obama

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November 6, 2008
Posted: 1607 GMT

AP File photo of Rahm Emanuel with President-Elect Barack Obama-

 -By CNN's Hala Gorani

After a historic election that saw the victory of America's first African-American president, the talk has now firmly turned to issues surrounding transition of power.

President-elect Obama's team has offered the Chief of Staff job to Illinois congressman Rahm Emanuel, a powerful congressional insider and a close Obama friend.

Though Emanuel hasn't publicly accepted the post, his father, Benjamin Emanuel, an Israeli citizen who lives in Israel, told the Ma'ariv newspaper that he believes his son's appointment means Obama will necessarily be "pro-Israel."

Though it's the next paragraph – reported in today's Jerusalem Post – that I found particularly interesting:

In an interview with Ma'ariv, Emanuel's father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son's appointment would be good for Israel. "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel," he was quoted as saying. "Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

With a mixed-race candidate soon to become the most powerful leader in the world, this type of statement seems even more out of place in the public discourse than it would have even a few days ago.

Check out the full JP article here.

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