Posted at: 03/19/2013 3:29 AM
Updated at: 03/19/2013 6:14 AM
On his second trip to the Middle East as U.S. commander in chief, President Barack Obama this week will confront a political and strategic landscape nearly unrecognizable from the one he encountered on his first trip to the region shortly after assuming office in 2009.
Gone are the authoritarian leaders who fell during the Arab spring, and the once seemingly indestructible regime in Syria is on the brink of collapse. The few constants are hardly cause for cheer: a moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, an Iran that continues to inch closer to nuclear weapons capability and the ever-growing threat from extremists.
Obama heads into this mix Tuesday when he leaves Washington on a mission to reassure Israel of America's commitment to its security and amplify that message throughout the region.