Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Obama in the Middle East: Failure to Bring Change’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed), America’s Challenges in the Greater Middle East (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2-11). pp. 1-10
Publication year: 2011

President Barack Obama inherited an unenviable legacy from his predecessor in the greater Middle East. At the time of his inauguration, U.S. troops were involved in two theaters of war. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had started well and allowed the United States to gain quick victories against incumbent regimes. Securing these victories, however, had proven elusive. In Afghanistan, the Taliban had managed to put up resistance, seriously curtailing the authority of the central government beyond major centers of population. The Taliban also established camps across the border, using Pakistani territory to train fighters and launch attacks against U.S. troops and those of its allies. In Iraq, a pro-Saddam insurgency soon developed into an Islamist/Al Qaeda campaign of terror, aimed at punishing the United States and instigating a sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Iraqis.