Challenges Facing the New President in the Greater Middle East

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Nada Zohdy



In November 2008, students, scholars, and interested citizens convened in
East Lansing to hear experts speak about the Middle East. This event, “Challenges
Facing the New President in the GreaterMiddle East,” was hosted by
Michigan State University’s Muslim Studies Program with generous cosponsorship
by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) and
the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America (AMSS).
Speakers highlighted the topic’s timeliness, given the current global political
climate. Experts agreed that by heeding the nuances surrounding Middle
Eastern issues and contextualizing them, a positive transformation ofAmerican
policy can be achieved.
Professor Mohammed Ayoob (Michigan State University) articulated
why the Middle East is significant: as the Muslim world’s spiritual and political
heartland, understanding its politics is essential to understanding that
world’s politics, and being the home ofmore than 60%of the world’s proven
oil reserves and 40% of its natural gas makes it strategically important. This
overview contextualized the challenges facing the Obama administration on
such critical regional issues as political Islam, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
and the Iraq War as well as the United States’ tenuous relations with
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and SaudiArabia ...

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