08/14/2008 05:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reflecting on the Platform Draft - Foreign Policy and the Middle East

I am happy to see that most of the participants' concerns at the event on "US Foreign Policy-Middle East meeting were incorporated on the Draft of the DNC National Platform. This event attracted US citizens, most of whom were originally from Middle East, and especially from Iran, all of whom were concerned about America's foreign policy in the region.

1. Ending the War in Iraq, as reflected in page 23-24 of the draft platform.

The platform meeting agreed that it is very important to end Iraq war, which should happen within 16 months. It was concluded that withdrawal of troops must be followed by a generous assistance to Iraqi refugees and contribution towards re-constructing and developing the country. As part of pull-out, regional efforts must be made to stabilize Iraq.

2. Combat Terrorism, as reflected on page 25 of the draft platform.

The platform meeting concluded that "a fundamental re-examination of the concept of war on terror must be implemented".

The draft platform has interpreted this topic to say that "we must forge a more effective global response to terrorism".

3. Israeli-Palestine conflict, as reflected on page 33 of the draft platform under Stand with Allies and Pursue Diplomacy in the Middle East.

A few participants wanted Obama to be more clear about his exact opinion on this issue. However, as this is a very delicate agenda, the moderator, Mr. Paul Schem, pointed out that Obama has spoken carefully a tremendous amount during this campaign, but Obama is pro-Israel: Israel will not be divided and he has made it clear that this conflict would be his top agenda while in the office. Participants, insisted that US should be careful to not take sides but promote justice in every conflict. It was concluded that Obama should "create a platform that is even-handed and resolves issues". Also, it was concluded that establishment of the Palestinian statehood is a very important step in achieving democracy in the middle east and the US should endorse such a move strongly.

The US should deal with this conflict: a) immediately; b) justly; c) even-handedly; d) and with accountability on both sides for promises they make.

4. Iran, as reflected on page 27 of the draft platform under Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons.

At the meeting it was pointed out that Obama stands strongly for sanctions against Iran and has not called for military action. As it is noted in the draft platform, it was agreed at the meeting that "US should deal with Iran without preconditions and a high level of diplomacy."
US has not talked with Iran for moren than 29 years, the time has now come to enter into serious discussions. It was concluded at the meeting that "It is necessary with due preparation to negotiate bilateral and multilateral differences face to face".

5. Afghanistan, as reflected on page 24 of the draft platform under "Win in Afghanistan."

It was discussed that Obama differs on this issue from McCain, as the latter one has made a priority of Iraq and not Afghanistan. It was concluded that Obama will make Afghanistan a priority and pay attention more to what is happening there. Thus, a shift of focus is needed. A clear policy on Afghanistan needs to be put in place sooner rather than later.

6. Strengthen Transatlantic Relations, as reflected in page 33 of the draft platform.

This was an important topic discussed as all agreed that the US relationship with European countries must be further improved. The US must be more attentive to Europe's voice and opinion and the need of NATO in countries such as Afghanistan. It was concluded that US must work on restoring traditional alliances based on transatlantic partnerships and recognition of common interests".

7. Advancing Democracy, Development and Respect for Human Rights, as reflected in page 34-35 of the draft platform.

Participants all agreed that the US should support and promote democracy everywhere but military action is not the way to do so. The US should work closely even with non-democratic countries in order to convey democracy to them. US should be even-handed in this respect and not selective. It was therefore concluded that the US should further work on ending the genocide on Darfur and Rwanda.