After two days of shuttle diplomacy, Hillary Clinton and Egypt's foreign minister announced a cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel. Despite its weakened influence in the Middle East, the US is still the dominant diplomatic force.
After two days of Middle East shuttle diplomacy, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stood in Cairo Wednesday evening as Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammmed Kamel Amr announced a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinians in Hamas-governed Gaza designed to end eight days of deadly fighting.
The cease-fire, set to take effect later in the evening local time (2 PM EST), would, most urgently, end the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, in which more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed, most of them civilians.
But at another level, Secretary Clinton’s role in securing the cease-fire demonstrates how the United States, despite its weakened influence in a region of empowered Islamists less inclined to America’s call, remains the dominant diplomatic force in the Middle East.
When President Obama dispatched Clinton to the region Tuesday to try to negotiate an end to the violence, it was a sign of a shift by the White House to a more overt – and traditionally American – role in the region. It was also seen by some regional experts as belated recognition by Mr. Obama that, despite his apparent preference for a less overt role for American diplomacy in the region, the Middle East risks slipping deeper into conflict and instability without forceful US engagement.
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