U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that reaching “reasonable compromises” between Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks that open today will be difficult, while “the consequences of not trying could be worse.”
Here is the genius of Qatar, the peanut-sized Persian Gulf state that provides material support to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and possibly some of Syria’s jihadist rebel groups, in a single image: A two-cheeked kiss, in public, between Qatar’s second-most powerful man, the prime minister (and foreign minister), Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, and Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire who funds, among other things, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani had just turned 15 years old the summer his father overthrew his grandfather. It was June 1995. While Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, was traveling in Switzerland, Tamim’s father deposed him in a bloodless coup.
President Barack Obama clashed so often and so publicly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the first 16 months of his tenure that one Israeli newspaper reported Netanyahu believed Obama wanted a confrontation to improve U.S. ties to the Arab world.
While John Kerry’s frequent trips to the Middle East have generated headlines and created a sense of momentum, there’s little evidence so far that the U.S. secretary of state is close to his goal of producing an Israeli- Palestinian peace agreement.
The assassination of three Syrian military leaders loyal to President Bashar al-Assad may hasten the end of his family’s four-decade rule, an upheaval that would affect the security and influence of Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and other neighboring states.