Former Egyptian military strongman Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is the favorite in next week’s presidential election, prolonging a debate in the Obama administration about whether ideals or interests should guide relations with the Arab world’s most populous nation.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Egypt and Tunisia this week to show support for their democracy movements, while the Obama administration considers how much to help the insurgency against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the country’s first Kurdish head of state who has sought to balance the nation’s rival ethnic and religious factions, was hospitalized late on Dec. 17 after suffering a stroke, a Kurdish lawmaker said.
A year after the so-called Arab Spring blossomed in Tunisia and spread with enthusiastic Western support, developments in the region signal a protracted crisis that could threaten Arab-Israeli peace, world oil supplies and the U.S. fight against terrorism.
The Obama administration’s decision to suspend military aid to Egypt, in an effort to prod the country toward democracy, risks undermining U.S. influence in the Middle East and Egypt’s peace with Israel.