No one can doubt the enormous attention the U.S presidential campaigns and the results of the elections have received from different segments of the Arabian and Middle Eastern Societies. Of course, this extensive interest in the U.S elections is predominantly due to the correlative relationship between the U.S and the Middle East region. The concern with the American elections and its results is based upon the attempts to forecast the U.S foreign policy towards the Middle East depending on the election results. Consequently, with George Bush being re-elected for a second term, the U.S foreign policy towards the region is likely to stay the same without any significant changes.
Although there are some beliefs in American politics that a president in a second term, tends to be more moderate and rational in conducting his foreign policy because of the weak impact of various domestic pressures on his agenda and his personal political will to achieve a historical accomplishment; however, this may not be the case with President Bush due to a multiple of reasons.
The first one is that Bush has won the majority in both the electoral collage and the direct votes. This majority signifies a popular support to his foreign policy that is based on unilateral actions and preemptive attacks especially in dealing with the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Secondly, the Republican Party has also won the majority in the two houses of the Congress, so the G.O.P now constitutes the majority in the House of Senate and the House of Representatives. The majority in both houses blocks any effective opposition to the President's foreign policy. Above all, it seems that a large portion of American constituencies have moved towards the far right of conservatism which is inherently radical in its understanding of foreign policy especially when it's related to the U.S national Security.
Relating to the above, it may be argued that the crises in Iraq will continue to be on top of the priorities of the U.S foreign policy agenda. The U.S faces a complicated situation in Iraq which may consume all the efforts of President Bush through his second term. On the one side, the situation in Iraq does not seem successful especially with the rising tendencies of the violent activities and the resistant movements. On the other side, the continuation of the International objection to the occupation of Iraq pressures the U.S re-elected administration to pay enormous efforts in order handle and contain the crises in Iraq through more successful means.
In addition, the existence of 135 thousand U.S soldiers in uniform on Iraqi soil for a long time constitute another sort of pressure on the U.S administration due to the high cost of the war, which primarily relies on the U.S economy and the government budget which suffers from a deficit that has reached 400 billion U.S dollars until now. All this leads to the importance of Iraq's upcoming elections for the U.S administration which may be a gateway to the crises and an exist strategy that at the end may transform Iraq into a democracy. Consequently, the U.S tries hard in cooperation with Iraq's interim government to contain the violence at the Fallujah, the center of the Sunni triangle, and to disarm the militant groups. It has also emphasized the necessity to incorporate the Iraqi Sunnis in the elections, so that the elected government would have the necessary legitimacy among Iraqi citizens.
The United States is also likely to continue its political pressure on some pivotal states in the Middle East in order to guarantee peaceful acceptance of the U.S policies in Iraq. Iran and Syria are among the candidates of the U.S foreign policy pressures to ensure collaborative reactions from the two governments especially in dealing with issues of borders control with Iraq and the prevention of foreign fighters from entering into Iraq. As for the regional conference on Iraq which is to be held at the Egyptian Resort of Sharm Al Shiekh on the Red Sea on the 23rd of November, the U.S diplomacy is likely to convince some of the Arab and regional states and International Organizations to play a positive and effective role in the Iraqi elections and to politically and economically support the interim government in undertaking its responsibilities.
Iran's nuclear activities, is probably the second most important priority within the U.S foreign policy agenda in the Middle East because if the Iranian regime succeeded in acquiring the technological capabilities for enriching uranium, then it may divert its peaceful nuclear program to military one. The U.S government will have to choose between two policy options. The first one is to depend on the containment policy that is conducted by the European troika which succeeded in reaching an agreement with Iran this month to suspend its uranium enrichment process. Or choose the second option which is desired by the neo-conservatives of the American administration and that is to escalate the situation with Iran until it reaches the Security Council, which may then impose sanctions on the Iranian government. Especially that President Bush and his outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell have ruled out the Iranian decision with the European troika, claiming that there are intelligence reports that prove that Iran still plans to develop weapons of mass destruction and that the Iranian decision is only a matter of political maneuver.
As for the Arab Israeli conflict, it is possible that it will constitute part of the U.S interest in the region due to its need for a cooperative Arab support to the political process going on in Iraq. This Arab support may be achieved if the U.S showed some willingness to mediate Arab Israeli negotiations in the near future. The death of President Arafat and the upcoming Palestinian elections may encourage the Bush administration to reactivate its role in the Middle East peace process and to try to accomplish its promise of a Palestinian state. But it necessary to note that President Bush has recently delayed Palestinian State option from the year 2005 to the year 2009 which suggests that the American role in the peace process is going to be a limited one.
Other political issues in the Middle East, the U.S foreign policy towards them shall stay constant without deliberate escalations like the Darfur crises in Sudan and the Syrian military presence in Lebanon. These issues, the United States government is likely to preserve as mediums of pressure on the Arab states in order to be used according the U.S interest in the region.
It is ultimately clear that the U.S foreign policy is likely to focus its efforts during President Bush second term on the Middle East. However, this political concentration will take place according to the U.S administration priorities, which will have on top of the list the crises in Iraq and Iran's nuclear program.