Former U.S. Senator and Middle East Peace Envoy George Mitchell said Syria is the flashpoint for Mideast politics and pointed out Sunday on that, “Much of the arms and money and personnel,” fueling the civil war are coming from outside the country, specifically Iran.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s paid unexpected visit to Baghdad to discuss the issue of Iranian influence in Iraq, the first such visit from since Hillary Clinton’s 2009 stop. Since Iran uses Iraqi airspace to transport weapons and supplies into Syria, U.S. pressure is essential to curbing Iranian supply lines, a key to defusing the ongoing violence, Mitchell said.
Mitchell praised President Obama's setting up of "limited expectations" in the region and his active role in the Syrian crisis—cautioning that some revolutions yield regimes even more tyrannical than those which are overthrown.
According to Mitchell, Obama successfully reached out to the Israeli public, where his favorability rating has recently polled as low as 10% in Maagar Mohot Institute and the Israeli daily Maariv survey.
The President was also able to send the message to both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict that, while the administration is fully committed to Israeli security, it is equally supportive of a Palestinian state. In addition, Obama sent a broad message to the region—Iran and others—that America remains fully committed to the Middle East.
As for the formal apology from Israel to Turkey for the 2010 attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Mitchell said that’s just “icing on the cake.”