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Obama Returns to US, Restoration of Israel-Turkey Ties in Pocket

U.S. President Barack Obama returned to the United States late Saturday from his four-day whirlwind tour of the Middle East.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 3/24/2013, 9:45 AM

Obama waves from Air Force One
Obama waves from Air Force One
Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama returned to the United States late Saturday from his four-day whirlwind tour of the Middle East, with the accomplishment of having repaired Israeli-Turkish diplomatic and military ties in his pocket.

No small feat, such a coup placed a positive final note on a regional tour rife with topics that were anything but positive, given the turbulence and risks facing the nations he visited, at least two which continue to be directly affected, and even threatened, by the 2011 Arab Spring upheavals.

The last day of Obama's visit to the region was spent in Jordan on talks with King Abdullah II, and visiting the ancient world-renowned site of Petra. Jordan is now home to literally hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the bloody civil war ravaging their homeland, with the outcome yet in doubt and multiple factions vying for power, including those linked to Al Qaeda and to Iran.

In a joint news conference with the Hashemite monarch, Obama warned Friday that Syria could become a haven of “extremism” and radiated concern about the savage civil war entering its third year.

At every stop along the way during his tour of Egypt, Israel, and Jordan, in fact, Obama discussed the situation in Syria and its impact on neighboring nations with the region’s leaders. 

He also found himself forced to reassure Jerusalem that America indeed remains intent on countering Iranian nuclear and other military threats.

Another agenda raised with Israel’s leadership by Obama was the urgency to renew final status talks with the Palestinian Authority. 

The U.S. president arrived hours ahead of schedule at Andrews Air Force Base just outside Washington bearing with him an agreement between Israel and Turkey to restore diplomatic and military ties.

The accomplishment put a positive note on the final leg of Obama’s trip to Israel, where he made a strong effort to repair the country’s perception of bad chemistry with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.