South Asia Center Senior Fellow Barbara Slavin assesses America’s foreign policy toward the Middle East for Al Jazeera America in their “The Real State of the Union” series:

From the interim nuclear agreement with Iran reached late last year to tensions with the military-backed Egyptian government to ongoing negotiations in Geneva to solve the Syrian crisis, the United States remains deeply engaged in trying through diplomatic means to resolve conflicts roiling the Middle East. 

Civil war is raging in Syria, with no end in sight. More than 130,000 people have died since 2011 and half the population is either internally displaced or refugees. Islamic militants have hijacked the rebellion, while the regime of Bashar Al-Assad stands accused of grotesque human rights abuses, from using chemical weapons and barrel bombs to starving political prisoners. Under a Russian-brokered deal that averted U.S. military strikes, the Assad regime is relinquishing its chemical weapons. But Assad rejects any suggestion that he must agree to step down as part of a political transition.The ongoing Geneva II “peace” talks have served mostly to expose divisions between Syrian factions and their external patrons. The U.S. helped deliver moderate Syrian opposition representatives to the conference but rejected participation by the Iranians.

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