Obama’s speech will end Iraq combat role, then try to begin a Mideast peace | VailDaily.com

Obama’s speech will end Iraq combat role, then try to begin a Mideast peace

Ben Feller
The Associated Press

Firmly and finally ending the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, President Barack Obama will have but a moment before trying to hasten peace nearby between Israelis and Palestinians. Left unclear is whether winding down the war that inflamed Arab passions will do anything to help long-shot Mideast talks.

From the Oval Office, a setting designed to command gravity and attention, Obama will declare tonight that Iraqis are now in charge of a war he had opposed. Within hours Wednesday, he will be immersed in talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, underscoring the hopeful but precarious U.S. role as middleman.

The White House is framing the two events as commitments kept by the president. But there is little excitement or buzz, and certainly no bold promises that capping the combat mission in Iraq will prod broader peace in the Middle East.

Obama’s emphasis tonight will be to thank the troops and explain why the fight goes on in Afghanistan and beyond – and not so much about the potential for Iraq to be “a beacon of liberty in the Middle East,” as President George W. Bush put it.

In a narrow sense, the Middle East peace talks have little to do with Iraq. The stalemate there has to do with the borders of a potential Palestinian state, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the status of Jerusalem, the security of Israel – and trust on both sides.

Making progress on those points, not the Iraq war, is at the core of renewed talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Read more: Obama’s speech will end Iraq combat role, then try to begin a Mideast peace – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_15946286#ixzz0yChzIcgo