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Lecturer: Next President Faces Challenge In Middle East

This story was written by Alex Kantecki, The Daily Vidette

According to As`ad AbuKhalil, professor of politics at California State University, Stanislaus, the new administration has no choice but to treat the Middle East as a major priority regardless of the election's outcome.

"For no good reason, when a new administration takes over, it decides not to focus on the Middle East," AbuKhalil said. "This year will be the first time that the new administration is in no position to say that it isn't a priority. After the economy, the next pressing issue of voters is Middle Eastern countries."

AbuKhalil spoke about the main areas of interest the new administration must address in his presentation, "The Middle East and the New Administration," Wednesday afternoon in the Illinois State University Bone Student Center.

"Both candidates' foreign policies are becoming eerily similar as the election comes closer to its end," AbuKhalil said. "Regardless of who wins, the new administration must change its goals in the Middle East."

Bloomington resident Christey Daniels believes the new administration may be handcuffed by the current administration.

"There's only so much that can be done," Daniels said. "Change takes time and it may take more than four years to achieve progress."

There are three main issues the new administration needs to tackle, according to AbuKhalil. First, the United States must change its goals in Iraq.

"Look, the United States has failed in Iraq and it must acknowledge this," AbuKhalil said. "The United States went into Iraq and promised to instill democracy throughout the entire area, but it has attempted to do this through monumental casualties. We may have liberated them in our eyes, but we haven't liberated them in their own eyes."

According to AbuKhalil, the United States must shift its concentration to lowering the number of casualties in Iraq.

"There is no telling how many civilian casualties the American military has caused in Iraq because no figures are released," AbuKhalil said. "Americans shouldn't be surprised if there are foreign reparations for our damage to Iraq."

The second issue the new administration must address is its position in regards to Israel.

"The United States has been funding Israel for many years," AbuKhalil said. "A large part of the world holds the United States responsible for what Israel has done to its neighboring countries."

For example, over 1,300 Lebanese were killed by Israeli bombers in 2006, and the majority were civilians, AbuKhalil said.

"This is unacceptable from a nation who says it's fighting terrorism."

The final issue is concentrated in Islam.

"In America, there is a debate to whether Obama is Muslim or not, and this is very offensive to Middle Eastern countries," AbuKhalil said. "This is coming from a country who brags about being a democracy every minute of every day. It shouldn't matter who or what the president is."

AbuKhalil's presentation was part of the International Seminar Series offered every Wednesday at noon on the third floor of the Bone Student Center.