George Mitchell, the US Special Envoy to the Middle East, has decided to step down after over two years of attempting to press the Palestinians and Israelis into talks, according to US officials. The White House on Friday announced that the ex-senator and mediator of the Northern Island peace agreement was resigning due to personal reasons. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked Mitchell’s deputy David Hale to serve as acting envoy.
The resignation has come at a time when President Obama is reportedly preparing for a major Middle East policy speech. According to US officials, the elimination of Osama bin Laden represents a unique opportunity to shape the narrative and perceptions of the Arab and the Islamic world, against the Al Qaeda led extremist forces. As the Arab world goes through public revolts, there are fears that extremists may try to exploit the chaos and vacuum, which results as long-time autocrats become weak or depart.
As PoliTact has previously noted, with the Middle East peace process deadlocked, the relations of US with the Islamic world continue to deteriorate. The list in the past had included Iran, and now is growing to incorporate Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Furthermore, in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya has been added to the list of countries with active Western led military interventions.