Malley, the aides said, met both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and
Syrian President Bashar Assad to explain Obama's platform. The aides said
Obama signaled to Mubarak that the United States would maintain military and
civilian aid and sell advanced F-16 aircraft to Cairo. Egypt has not ordered
F-16s in nearly a decade.
Obama, himself, was also said to have met Arab leaders who arrived in
the United States over the last three months. The aides said the leaders
included Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"Obama's message is that he strongly supports a Palestinian state," the
Obama aides said they would coordinate with the outgoing Bush
administration. They said the presidential-elect supports an intensive final
drive by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to conclude arrangements for a
Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2009.
"Obama would prefer an engaged administration to use the next two months
to work out any details that could be implemented next year when he enters
office," the aide said.
Analysts said Obama would probably confront a Middle East crisis soon
after entering office in January 2009. They said the most imminent crisis
would be that of Iraq as well as the confrontation between Hamas and the PA.
[On Nov. 5, Hamas fired more than 35 Kassam-class missiles from the Gaza
Strip into Israel in retaliation for an Israeli military operation the
previous day. At least three people in the Israeli city of Ashkelon were
"The next U.S. president will face unprecedented challenges and dangers
in the Middle East, with few good options and precious little time to
waste," Michael Eisenstadt, senior fellow at the Washington Institute, said.
"If the next president is to succeed in advancing American interests, he
will need to engage the Middle East to an unprecedented degree, avert or
deter the wars that can be avoided, and skillfully manage the one or more
wars that are almost certain to occur on his watch."