Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2009

Passing a Flaming Torch: The Middle Eastern Issues Confronting the Obama Administration

Rami G. Khouri

February 2009

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies


With its army and its diplomatic posture, the American administration is now deeply part of the Middle East. Many of the problems of the region have been clearly aggravated and in some cases sparked by American policy, though many of them area joint venture between Arabs and Israelis, between Turks and Iranians, and between Europeans of different nationalities. But because the United States is such a decisive player in the Middle East, it has inordinate power to affect things in the region for good or for bad. In this paper, I outline ten issues facing both the Middle East and the Obama administration-most of which have been worsened by the Bush presidency. While there is hope for a better future, the mess Bush and Rice leave behind is an enormous one that presents a wide array of difficult challenges.