Posted on December 31, 2010 in Viewpoint with James Zogby

Marwan Muasher, former Jordanian Ambassador to Israel, Author and Senior Vice President of External Affairs at the World Bank, discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Assessing President Obama’s attempt to broker peace between the two sides, Ambassador Muasher quipped, “Actions do not meet words.” While he feels that the Obama administration’s attempt to be a fair moderator is in earnest – Muasher was quick to discard the notion that efforts in the peace process are tantamount to “Bush’s third term” – its ability to be so has not met expectation, calling efforts, “amateurish at best.” He elaborated on this sentiment by stating that the U.S. has made it too easy for the various parties to say “no” to demands placed on them.  Addressing political reform in the Arab world, Muasher also spoke of an “ossified layer” of political elites in the Arab world who resist, “even gradual reform”, which also harms the peace process. Mr. Muasher is author of the book; The Arab Center: The Promise of Moderation.

Read the UN Report: "History of The Question of Palestine"


Joost Hiltermann, Deputy Program director for the International Crisis Group followed Ambassador Muasher and continued the discussion from last week about the new Iraqi Parliament. Regarding the possibility of a delay of American troop withdrawal from Iraq, Hiltermann referred to a Wall Street Journal article which quoted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as standing firm against such a notion. However, Hiltermann pointed out that al-Maliki would not be against an extension if it were accepted through a parliamentary vote – a very difficult task according to Hiltermann. He also spoke briefly about the state of the Iraqi military. While it is not yet ready to engage in border and airspace protection – a military’s primary function – Iraq currently faces no external threat and, thanks to Iraq’s newly-formed unity government, the military will be much more adept at handling another insurgency, a far more real threat to Iraq’s security.