European Views and Policies Toward the Middle East

CRS Report for Congress
European Views and Policies
Toward the Middle East
Updated December 21, 2005
Kristin Archick
Specialist in European Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

European Views and Policies Toward the Middle East
Managing policy differences on a range of issues emanating from the Middle
East poses serious challenges for the United States and its European allies and
friends. The most vitriolic dispute has centered on the conflict in Iraq. However,
divisions over how best to approach the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, manage
Iran and Syria, and combat terrorism also persist. The Bush Administration and
Members of Congress are concerned that continued disagreements between the two
sides of the Atlantic could both constrain U.S. policy choices in the region and erode
the broader transatlantic relationship and counterterrorism cooperation over the
longer term. The U.S.-initiated Broader Middle East and North Africa partnership
project seeks to encourage reforms in the region and U.S.-European cooperation in
tackling Mideast problems. This initiative was welcomed by the 9/11 Commission,
which recommended that the United States “should engage other nations in
developing a comprehensive coalition strategy against Islamist terrorism.” The
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458) contains
elements that seek to promote Middle East development and reform and enhance
international cooperation against terrorism.
Many analysts assert that the United States and Europe share common vital
interests in the Middle East: combating terrorism and the proliferation of weapons
of mass destruction; promoting Middle East peace and stability; ensuring a reliable
flow of oil; and curtailing Islamic extremism. U.S. and European policies to promote
these goals often differ considerably. Although the European governments are not
monolithic in their opinions on the Middle East, European perspectives have been
shaped over time by common elements unique to Europe’s history and geostrategic
position. Many Europeans believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be a
priority. They view it as a key driver of terrorism, Islamic extremism, and political
unrest among Europe’s growing Muslim populations. In contrast, the U.S.
Administration stresses that terrorism and weapons proliferation are the primary
threats and must be pro-actively confronted; peace and stability in the region will not
be possible until these twin threats are removed. A number of other factors, such as
divergent perceptions of the appropriate role of the use of force and growing
European Union (EU) ambitions to play a larger role on the world stage, also
contribute to the policy gaps that have emerged.
How deep and lasting the clash over Iraq and subsequent Middle East policies
will be to transatlantic relations will likely depend on several factors, including
whether Washington and European capitals can cooperate more robustly to rebuild
Iraq; whether Europeans perceive a renewed U.S. commitment to revive the Middle
East peace process; and whether differences over Mideast issues spill over into
NATO or impede EU efforts to forge a deeper Union. This report will be updated as
events warrant. For more information, see CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: U.S. Regime
Change Efforts and post-Saddam Governance; CRS Issue Brief IB91137, The Middle
East Peace Talks; CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy
Responses; CRS Issue Brief IB92075, Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues; and
CRS Report RL31612, European Counter-terrorist Efforts: Political Will and
Diverse Responses in the First Year after September 11.

In troduction ......................................................1
Underlying Drivers of European Views.................................1
History’s Impact...............................................2
Geographic and Demographic Differences..........................2
The Nature of Europe’s Economic Ties.............................3
Divergent Threat Perceptions.....................................3
Different Approaches to Managing Threats and Using Force............4
European Perceptions of the Bush Administration....................4
Growing EU Ambitions.........................................5
European Views of Key Policy Issues..................................5
Iraq .........................................................6
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict..................................10
Iran ........................................................17
Syria .......................................................21
Counterterrorism .............................................23
U.S. Perspectives.................................................25
Administration Views.........................................25
Congressional Views..........................................27
Effects on the Broader Transatlantic Relationship.......................29

European Views and Policies
Toward the Middle East
Over the last few years, nowhere have tensions between the United States and
its European allies and friends been more evident than on a range of issues related to1
the Middle East. These include Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Iran. Some
worry that U.S.-European differences in combating terrorism are growing wider.
How best to approach the challenges posed by Syria may also figure prominently on
the transatlantic agenda in the near future. Although the European countries are not
monolithic in their opinions with respect to the Middle East, views among them often
tend to be much closer to each other than to those of the United States. This is
largely because European perspectives on the region have been shaped over time by
common elements unique to Europe’s history and geostrategic position.
Some Bush Administration officials and Members of Congress are concerned
that the recent vitriolic disputes between Washington and a number of European
capitals on Middle East issues could constrain U.S. policies, and erode the broader
transatlantic relationship and U.S.-European counterterrorism efforts in the longer
term. The 9/11 Commission Report notes that nearly every aspect of U.S.
counterterrorism strategy relies on international cooperation, including with
European governments and multilateral institutions such as NATO and the European
Union (EU). Some provisions in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention
Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458) seek to enhance international collaboration against
terrorism. The Bush Administration has sought to mend transatlantic relations in its
second term, but U.S.-European policy differences over Middle Eastern issues are
likely to persist.
Underlying Drivers of European Views
Many analysts argue that the United States and Europe share common vital
interests in the Middle East: combating terrorism; halting proliferation of weapons
of mass destruction (WMD); promoting Middle East peace and stability; ensuring a
reliable flow of oil; and curtailing Islamic extremism. These experts assert that the
goals of U.S. and European policies toward these various challenges are not that far
apart. Both sides of the Atlantic tend to emphasize different interests. Europe
largely views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the preeminent concern, believing it

1 For the purposes of this report, “Middle East” is used broadly to encompass North Africa
through Egypt, Israel and the Tigris-Euphrates valley, and the Persian Gulf region. The term
“Europe” is used equally broadly to encompass both NATO and European Union members.

to be the key source of regional instability that fuels terrorism, Islamic extremism,
and domestic political unrest at home. In contrast, the Bush Administration stresses
that terrorism and weapons proliferation must be confronted to ensure U.S. national
security, and that the conditions for peace and stability in the Middle East will not be
possible until these twin threats are removed. These different perspectives often
result in the employment of disparate tactics by the two sides of the Atlantic as they
pursue their foreign policy agendas in the region.
A combination of factors lie at the root of U.S.-European tensions on the Middle
East. They include different histories, geography, and demographics; the nature of
economic ties with the region; somewhat divergent threat perceptions; and different
views on the appropriate role of the use of force. Many analysts also suggest that
current U.S.-European frictions over many Middle East issues are heightened on the
one hand by European views of a unilateralist Bush Administration, and on the other
by growing EU ambitions to play a larger role on the world stage.
History’s Impact
Europe’s long and complex history with the Middle East shapes its views
toward the region in ways that are distinct from those of the United States. Europe’s
ancient religious crusades and more recent colonial experiences in the Arab world
still weigh heavily on its collective psyche, and produce twin pangs of wariness and
guilt. This wariness leads many Europeans, for example, to caution Washington
against overconfidence in its ability to win the battle for Arab “hearts and minds”
through force, or to impose stability and democracy. Residual guilt about Europe’s
colonialist past causes many of its citizens to identify with what they perceive as a
struggle for Palestinian freedom against Israeli occupation; at the same time, the
Holocaust engenders European support for the security of Israel, but Europeans
believe this will only be ensured by peace with the Palestinians. Finally, Europe’s
own bloody history has produced a broad European aversion to the use of force and
a preference for solving conflicts diplomatically (see below).2
Geographic and Demographic Differences
Europeans claim that the Middle East is part of “Europe’s neighborhood,” and
this proximity makes the promotion of political and economic stability key to
ensuring that problems in the region do not spill over into Europe. As examples,
Europeans point to several incidents of terrorism on their soil over the last three
decades stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and recent waves of migrants
fleeing political instability and economic hardship. These new migrants add to
Europe’s already sizable Muslim population of between 15 to 20 million, which has
its roots in European labor shortages and immigration policies of the 1950s and
1960s that attracted large groups of Turks, North Africans, and Pakistanis. In
contrast, the U.S. Muslim population is significantly smaller; estimates range from

2 The Atlantic Council and the German Marshall Fund, “Elusive Partnership: U.S. and
European Policies in the Near East and the Gulf,” Policy Paper, September 2002; Interviews
of European officials, January-March 2003.

4 to 8 million.3 Moreover, Islam has become a vital force in European domestic
politics. Some argue this makes European politicians more cautious about
supporting U.S. policies that could inflame their own “Arab streets” and deepen
divisions within European societies struggling to integrate growing Muslim
populations amid rising anti-immigrant sentiments. Conversely, many analysts
suggest that the politically well-organized Jewish community in the United States
engenders stronger U.S. support for Israel.
The Nature of Europe’s Economic Ties
Europe’s extensive economic ties with the Middle East have also received
considerable public attention as a key reason for differing U.S.-European approaches.
The EU is the primary trading partner of the region. Although a substantial element
of this trade is oil, and any changes in the price or supply of oil would also affect the
United States, overall European economic interests are more integrated with the
region. EU exports to the Middle East, for example, are almost three times the size
of U.S. exports.4 Some analysts argue that many European countries are primarily
motivated by the need to protect these commercial ties with the region, and often do
so at the expense of security concerns. Others point out that if such commercial
interests were the drivers of French and German opposition to the war in Iraq, then
both countries would have served those interests better by supporting the U.S.-led
war to guarantee a share of the post-Saddam Hussein spoils. Still, many experts
agree that European countries’ extensive trade and economic ties with the region
heighten their desires to maintain good relations with Arab governments and makes
them wary about policies that could disrupt the normal flow of trade and oil.5
Divergent Threat Perceptions
Some observers assert that since the end of the Cold War, American and
European threat perceptions have been diverging. Throughout the 1990s, U.S. policy
makers often complained that Europe was preoccupied with its own internal
transformation, and largely blind to the new international threats posed by terrorism,
weapons proliferation, and other challenges emanating from the Middle East. Some
say the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 exacerbated this gap in U.S.-European
threat perceptions. While Europeans view terrorism as a major threat, Americans
perceive the threat as being much more severe. European officials assert that while

3 Both European and U.S. Muslim population estimates vary depending on different
methodologies, definitions, and in the case of Europe, on the geographical limits imposed.
See Omer Taspinar, “Europe’s Muslim Street,” Foreign Policy, March/April 2003; Eric
Boehlert, “The Muslim Population Riddle,”, August 30, 2001; U.S. Department
of State, “Fact Sheet: Islam in the United States,” September 2001.
4 EU and U.S. exports to the Middle East in 2000 were roughly $64 billion and $23 billion
respectively. See the International Monetary Fund, Direction of Trade Statistics Yearbook

2001, pp. 48-53.

5 Philip H. Gordon, “The Crisis in the Alliance,” Iraq Memo #11, The Brookings Institution,
February 24, 2003; The Atlantic Council and the German Marshall Fund, “Elusive
Partnership: U.S. and European Policies in the Near East and the Gulf,” Policy Paper,
September 2002; Interviews of European and Arab officials, January-March 2003.

some European leaders, such as UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, see and worry about
possible links between terrorist groups and weapons proliferators in the Mideast and
elsewhere, the average European citizen does not. And in certain European countries
like Germany, other issues — such as the economy and promoting stability in the
nearby Balkans — have taken precedence.6 A number of analysts suggest, however,
that the March 11, 2004, terrorist bombings in Madrid, Spain, have heightened
European perceptions of the threat of Islamist terrorism to Europe. One opinion poll
from June 2004 found that Americans and Europeans now share broadly similar
threat perceptions but differ sharply on the use of force for managing such threats.7
Different Approaches to Managing Threats and Using Force
As a result of Europe’s history both pre- and post-World War II, numerous
observers suggest that Europeans are more prone to emphasize multilateral solutions
based on the international rule of law. Many Europeans claim that it is precisely
because they have abided by such rules and worked cooperatively together in
institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union (and its progenitors)
that they have enjoyed decades of unprecedented peace and prosperity. Combined
with the devastation they inflicted on themselves and others in the first half of the
twentieth century, many Europeans — especially Germans — shy away from the use
of force to manage conflicts and place greater emphasis on “soft power” tools such
as diplomatic pressure and foreign aid. They are wary of the use of preemptive force
not sanctioned by the international community. U.S. critic Robert Kagan calls it a
“power problem,” observing that Europe’s military weakness has produced a
“European interest in inhabiting a world where strength doesn’t matter, where
international law and international institutions predominate.”8 Most Europeans,
however, reject this thesis. French and British officials in particular argue that they
are not pacifists and cite their roles in the NATO-led war in Kosovo and the U.S.-led
military campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan as just two examples.
European Perceptions of the Bush Administration
Many analysts believe that European perceptions of the Bush Administration as
inclined toward unilateralism and largely uninterested in Europe are exacerbating
current transatlantic tensions over the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Before
September 11, many European governments were critical of the Administration’s
position on international treaties such as the U.N. Kyoto Protocol on climate change
and its decision to proceed with missile defense. The terrorist attacks swept some of
these contentious issues under the rug for a while, but U.S.-European frictions
returned in early 2002. Many European leaders were alarmed by President Bush’s
characterization of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.” Other U.S.
moves ranging from rejecting the International Criminal Court to imposing steel

6 Interviews of European officials, January-March 2003; Jonathan Stevenson, “How Europe
and America Defend Themselves,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2003.
7 The German Marshall Fund of the United States and Compagnia di San Paolo,
“Transatlantic Trends 2004,” September 2004 [].
8 Robert Kagan, “Power and Weakness,” Policy Review, June-July 2002.

tariffs reinforced the notion that Washington was not interested in consulting with
its long-time allies or committed to working out disagreements diplomatically.
Furthermore, Europe’s history makes many uncomfortable with what they view as
the Bush Administration’s division of the world into good and evil and the religious
overtones of such terminology. A French commentator asserts, “Puritan America is
hostage to a sacred morality; it regards itself as the predestined repository of Good,
with a mission to strike down Evil...Europe no longer possesses that euphoric
arrogance. It is done mourning the Absolute and conducts its politics...politically.”9
Europeans have welcomed the Bush Administration’s efforts in its second term
to improve U.S.-European relations. Some say that the February 2005 trips to Europe
by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have helped mend fences
and improved the atmospherics of the relationship. However, transatlantic tensions
have not disappeared, and many Europeans remain skeptical about the degree to
which Washington views Europe as a full and valued partner.
Growing EU Ambitions
Some experts assert that the EU’s aspirations to play a larger role on the world
stage have also heightened recent U.S.-European tensions. For many years, the EU
has been the key donor of financial assistance to the Palestinians and has sponsored
a range of region-wide developmental programs. But the EU’s effort over the last
decade to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) to help further EU
political integration has prompted the EU to seek a higher-profile role in the region
that goes beyond its traditional “wallet” function.10 The EU has had some success
in forging consensus on its approach to the Middle East peace process, and how best
to deal with Iran. Some say this has helped make certain EU members, such as
France, more confident and assertive about confronting U.S. policies with which they
do not agree. At the same time, the EU was unable to agree on a common policy on
Iraq; key players such as the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain more closely
supported the U.S. approach to the use of force against Iraq. Critics note that the EU
still has a long way to go before it is able to speak with one voice on foreign policy
issues, but the frustration this produces for countries like France may exacerbate
reflexive impulses against U.S. leadership.
European Views of Key Policy Issues
The combination of underlying factors mentioned above help account for many
of the differences in U.S. and European policies on a range of challenges in the
Middle East. Key policy gaps exist in U.S. and European efforts to deal with Iraq,
address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, manage Iran and Syria, and counter terrorism.

9 Regis Debray, “The French Lesson,” New York Times, February 23, 2003.
10 See the Atlantic Council and the German Marshall Fund, “Elusive Partnership: U.S. and
European Policies in the Near East and the Gulf,” Policy Paper, September 2002.

Led by France and Germany, European countries opposed to using force to
disarm Iraq asserted that the case for war had not yet been made. They were
skeptical of U.S. arguments directly linking Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and did
not view the threat posed by Iraq as imminent — in part, because they believed that
the 12 years of international sanctions had limited Iraq’s ability to acquire weapons
of mass destruction.12 Thus, France, Germany, and others deemed a contained
Saddam Hussein as a threat they could live with, especially given their judgment that
war with Iraq would have dangerous and destabilizing consequences. Many
Europeans feared that toppling Saddam could further fragment the country along
ethnic and tribal lines, and generate instability.
A number of European governments also worried that war with Iraq would
inflame their own domestic “Arab streets,” especially given the stalemate in the
Middle East peace process. European officials pointed out that many Muslims view
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in much the same light as Washington did
Saddam Hussein, and reject as a double standard the use of force against Iraq. Even
UK officials who supported the U.S. approach to Iraq were concerned that war could
further antagonize Muslims both in the region and in Europe without tangible
progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, some Europeans stressed that
rather than helping to curb terrorism, war with Iraq would be an additional rallying
point for Al Qaeda recruiters and other militant Islamic groups.13
Numerous Europeans also opposed war in Iraq without explicit U.N.
authorization because in their view, it risked destroying the international system of
rules and laws created after World War II to maintain global peace and stability. In
light of German history, Berlin was especially reluctant to agree to any preemptive
measures not sanctioned by the international community. Even London, Madrid, and
Rome, which more closely backed Washington’s approach to Iraq, would have
preferred a second U.N. resolution explicitly authorizing the use of force. Many
Europeans now worry that the Bush Administration has opened a Pandora’s box.
Some note that other states with territorial ambitions, perhaps Russia or China, could
feel freer to launch similar measures against border regions under the pretext of
preempting threats to their national security. The U.S. action in Iraq could also prove
counterproductive if it encourages other countries to speed up or initiate programs
to acquire WMD capabilities in an attempt to deter a U.S. attack. The Bush
Administration counters that the war in Iraq has had precisely the opposite effect,
encouraging Libya to abandon its WMD program.

11 For more information on the conflict with Iraq, see, among others, CRS Report RL31339,
Iraq: U.S. Regime Change Efforts and post-Saddam Hussein Governance; CRS Report
RL31715, Iraq War: Background and Issues Overview.
12 Many Europeans expressed graver concerns about WMD programs in North Korea, Iran,
and Pakistan that have not been subjected to the same degree of international scrutiny.
Interviews of European officials, January-March 2003.
13 Marlise Simons, “Europeans Warn of Terror Attacks in Event of War in Iraq,” New York
Times, January 29, 2003.

French and German officials also discount criticism that their preference for a
diplomatic approach to countering Iraq’s WMD ambitions was motivated by
economic interests. They claim that 12 years of sanctions reduced these interests to
a minimum, and also prohibited oil contracts agreed with Saddam Hussein’s regime
from taking effect.14 These officials also note that Paris and Berlin had somewhat
larger financial interests in Iraq prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but they did not
hesitate then to join the coalition against Iraq. At that time, they point out, Iraq had
clearly breached international rules and posed a clear threat to stability.
In the aftermath of the war, U.S.-European tensions over Iraq have abated to
some degree, but still linger. U.S. officials have been frustrated by what they view
as minimal military or financial assistance from some European countries.
Throughout the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, which ended in June 2004, the role of
the United Nations in rebuilding Iraq was a major sticking point. Most European
countries, including the UK, favored giving the United Nations a significant role to
bolster the credibility of the reconstruction process. In contrast, Washington initially
favored a narrow, advisory role for the United Nations, with most U.N. activity
focused on providing humanitarian assistance and coordinating international aid
donations. Washington’s position on limited U.N. participation in Iraq won out in
the immediate aftermath of the war, as seen in a Security Council resolution agreed
to in May 2003. Although France and Germany approved this resolution, they
announced that they would not contribute troops or significant bilateral financial aid
in light of the restricted U.N. role; they, like several other smaller European nations,
were reluctant to become “occupying” powers in Iraq.15
In September 2003, the United States began seeking to increase international
participation in stabilizing Iraq amid ongoing insurgency attacks against U.S. and
coalition forces. In October 2003, the Administration secured another Security
Council resolution calling on the international community to help rebuild Iraq, and
giving the United Nations a marginally larger role in forging a new Iraqi government;
however, it left the United States in overall control of Iraq’s transition. As a result,
the resolution fell short of the expectations of many, including France and Germany,
and failed to overcome their resistance to sending troops to Iraq.
In June 2004, Washington gained unanimous U.N. Security Council approval
of a new resolution endorsing the transfer of Iraqi sovereignty and giving the United
Nations a key role in supporting Iraq’s ongoing political transition. European

14 Measurements of French and German commercial interests are open to interpretation.
French and German exports to Iraq in 2000 were about $357 million and $127 million
respectively. France was also Iraq’s largest trading partner, while Germany was its sixth
largest. However, French and German exports to Iraq were roughly 0.12% and 0.02% of
respective total exports. See the International Monetary Fund, Direction of Trade Statistics
Yearbook 2001, pp. 218-219, 227-228, 264. It should also be noted that under the U.N.’s
Oil-for-Food program, the United States was the largest importer of Iraqi oil. See CRS
Report RL30472, Iraq: Oil-For-Food Program, Illicit Trade, and Investigations.
15 Jean Eaglesham and James Harding, “Bush and Blair Pledge Vital Role for U.N.,”
Financial Times, April 9, 2003; Felicity Barringer, “U.N. Vote on Iraq Ends Sanctions,”
New York Times, May 23, 2003.

governments and EU leaders welcomed the return of sovereignty to Iraq and the
enhanced U.N. role, but substantial additional European military and financial
contributions to stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq have remained elusive. France and
Germany, among others, continued to object to what they perceived as an ongoing
U.S. decision-making monopoly on Iraq policy, especially with regard to the conduct
of security policy. They were also resistant to putting their troops in danger to bolster
a military campaign that they did not approve, and which, they believe, has led to an
increase in terrorism.
Some European countries were also initially hesitant to support a NATO role
in Iraq. At the June 2004 NATO summit in Istanbul, European allies agreed to a
request from the new Iraqi government for NATO help in training Iraqi security
forces. In December 2004, NATO foreign ministers decided to expand the alliance’s
training personnel in Baghdad from 60 to 300 officers, including both trainers and
support staff. Six European allies (France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Spain, and
Luxembourg) refused to allow their nationals on NATO’s international staff to take
part in this mission; they reportedly feared that the training mission could evolve
eventually into a combat operation.
During President Bush’s February 2005 trip to Europe, however, NATO
announced that it had gained commitments from all 26 allies to contribute to
NATO’s training of Iraqi security forces, either in or outside of Iraq, or through
financial contributions to one of three NATO trust funds for Iraq (totaling more that
$4.5 million). NATO believes that these commitments will enable it to provide
training eventually to about 1,500 Iraqi officers per year, both inside and outside of
Iraq. There are currently 165 NATO personnel in Iraq. In September 2005, NATO
opened a Joint Staff College outside of Baghdad to provide management and
leadership training for Iraqi military officials.16
Many observers view the NATO agreement reached in February 2005 —
although still relatively modest — as extremely positive, demonstrating a new
alliance unity of purpose and action in Iraq that will help improve U.S.-European
relations. Some observers had hoped that the January 2005 Iraqi elections for an
interim government would lead other countries, such as France and Germany, to
engage more robustly in rebuilding and stabilizing Iraq. However, significant
additional assistance has not been forthcoming. France initially resisted taking part
under a NATO umbrella to training Iraqi security forces, although it eventually
relented and agreed to contribute financially and to provide one French military
officer, who will help support the training mission at NATO’s headquarters in
Belgium. Germany points out that it is training Iraqi police and military forces
outside of Iraq, and France has made similar offers to train Iraqi security forces.
At the same time, financial constraints on already tight defense budgets and
public pressure to withdraw troops in the face of continued violence in Iraq are

16 Joel Brinkley, “NATO Agrees To Expansion of Forces Training Soldiers in Iraq,” New
York Times, December 10, 2004; “All NATO Nations To Aid Iraq Training,” Associated
Press, February 23, 2005; “NATO Opens Elite Staff College To Train Iraqi Army Officers,”
Associated Press, September 27, 2005.

leading several European countries to draw down their forces in the U.S.-led
multinational coalition. The new Spanish government, elected shortly after the
March 11, 2004 terrorist bombings in Madrid, withdrew its 1,300 troops from Iraq
in May 2004 and has no plans to re-commit forces. The Hungarian Parliament
rejected a government proposal to extend the mission of its 300 troops beyond the
end of 2004; Poland reduced its contingent of 2,400 troops to 1,700 in early 2005;
and the Netherlands withdrew its 1,400 soldiers in March 2005. Bulgaria has
announced that its 400 troops will leave Iraq after the December 15, 2005
parliamentary elections for a permanent Iraqi government, and press reports indicate
that the United Kingdom and Italy may consider troop reductions over the next year.17
The Bush Administration has been seeking to maintain existing international
commitments in Iraq. Media reports suggest that U.S. officials have been presenting
ways for allies with forces in Iraq to shift their troop commitments to new training
and reconstruction-related missions as Iraqi forces become more able to take over
security responsibilities. Currently, 13 European countries that belong to NATO
and/or the EU are contributing either troops or police to Iraq, as are Albania and
Macedonia, which harbor NATO and EU membership aspirations. The size of many
of these contingents, however, is extremely small, with some numbering only a few
dozen personnel.18
EU officials say they are determined to help rebuild Iraq. In July 2005, the EU
launched a one-year mission to train Iraqi police, administrators, and judges,
primarily outside of Iraq at present because of security concerns. The EU will
establish a liaison office in Baghdad, however, and may consider future training in
Iraq if security conditions improve. In addition, the EU will help finance an
international protection force for U.N. personnel and facilities in Iraq, but EU
member states are unlikely to provide troops for this force.19
EU leaders also point out that the EU and individual European governments are
contributing financially to Iraq’s reconstruction. At the Madrid donors conference
for Iraq in October 2003, the EU and its member states pledged a combined total of
$1.25 billion for Iraqi reconstruction, including roughly $235 million (for 2004) from
the EU community budget.20 Bilateral reconstruction assistance offered at the Madrid
conference included contributions from some EU members that opposed the war,

17 Peter Spiegel, “Coalition Pull-out From Iraq Gathers Pace,” Financial Times, January 26,

2005; Alan Cowell, “Europe Welcomes Vote, But With Usual Split,” New York Times,

February 1, 2005.
18 “Countries Contributing Forces to U.S.-led Coalition in Iraq,” Associated Press,
December 1, 2005; Peter Spiegel, “U.S. Offers Allies Ways To Shift Iraq Commitments,”
Financial Times, December 2, 2005.
19 “Security Council Endorses Creation of Trust Fund to Support UN Protection Force in
Iraq,” M2 Presswire, December 1, 2004; Daniel Dombey, “EU Offers To Train Civilians for
Iraq,” Financial Times, January 26, 2005.
20 The $1.25 billion in assistance pledged at Madrid in October 2003 includes pledges from
some EU accession states, which joined the EU in May 2004. See Press Release, “Tally
Shows Pledges from Madrid October Donors’ Conference Total $32 Billion,” available at
The World Bank’s website [], December 4, 2003.

such as Belgium and Sweden. Separately, Germany has contributed roughly $155
million, mostly for humanitarian assistance, since the outbreak of the Iraq war in
March 2003, and France has provided about $11 million in humanitarian aid.21
To date, the EU has provided over $600 million in reconstruction and
humanitarian assistance to Iraq from its community budget since 2003 and has
proposed about $240 million more for Iraq in 2006. The EU has also provided about
$96 million to support Iraqi elections and its referendum on a new constitution in
2005. As a result, the EU claims that it is the major international donor of election
assistance to Iraq and a key supporter of its current political transformation.22
In December 2005, the EU announced that it hopes to open negotiations for a
trade agreement with Iraq in 2006 and to establish a permanent delegation office in
Baghdad. EU officials say that the trade deal aims to stimulate reforms and
economic development in Iraq.23 Several European countries, including France and
Germany, have also agreed to help reduce Iraq’s foreign debt. The Bush
Administration originally called for nearly complete debt forgiveness for Iraq, but
France and Germany favored forgiving a lower level of Iraqi debt. They contended
that Iraqi debt forgiveness should be conditioned on the growth of the Iraqi economy;
in their view, Iraq has a relatively favorable economic outlook, given its large
petroleum reserves, in comparison with poorer, debt-ridden, and more needy African
countries. In November 2004, France accepted a U.S.-German compromise
negotiated in the context of the Paris Club to write off 80% of Iraq’s foreign debt.24
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict25
Numerous commentators observe that European opposition to the war with Iraq
also stemmed from frustrations with U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian
stalemate. Although EU members were divided over Iraq, they have managed to
forge a more common position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; many view this EU
position as being broadly more sympathetic to the Palestinians. Others assert that the
EU posture is balanced between the two sides of the conflict, in part because some

21 Also see CRS Report RL32105, Post-War Iraq: Foreign Contributions to Training,
Peacekeeping, and Reconstruction.
22 European Commission, “Reconstructing Iraq: State of Play and Implementation to Date,”
July 18, 2005; European Commission, “European Union Biggest Donor for Iraq’s Elections
and Referendum,” October 21, 2005; both available at [
external_relations/iraq/intro/index.htm] .
23 Daniel Dombey, “EU Looks to Trade Deal with Iraq,” Financial Times, December 12,


24 Andrew Balls and Ralph Atkins, “Paris Club in Deal To Write off 80%,” Financial
Times, November 22, 2004. Iraq is believed to owe the French and German governments
about $3 billion and $2.5 billion respectively, according to the Paris Club, an informal
grouping of Western creditor countries []. Also see CRS Report
RL30472, Iraq: Oil-For-Food Program, Illicit Trade, and Investigations.
25 For background on the Israeli-Palestinian and broader Israeli-Arab conflicts, see CRS
Issue Brief IB91137, The Middle East Peace Talks.

differences among members remain. Successive German governments, for example,
have maintained that they have a special obligation to Israel and have been keen to
ensure that EU policies also promote Israeli security. The EU backs Israel’s right to
exist and condemns terrorist acts against Israel.
Europeans, however, generally view resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as
key to reshaping the Middle East, fostering durable stability, and decreasing the
threats posed to both the United States and Europe by terrorism and Islamic
militancy. The EU’s first-ever security strategy, released in December 2003, cites
resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a top EU priority. Many European
officials charge that Washington has focused too much on Iraq and has an
unbalanced, excessively pro-Israeli policy. In this view, the United States is
alienating the broader Muslim world, which perceives a U.S. double standard at
work. European leaders have clamored for the United States to “do more” to get
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations back on track, precisely because they recognize that
only sustained U.S. engagement at the highest levels will force the parties to the
conflict, especially Israel, back to the negotiating table.26 European governments and
EU officials hope that the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in November

2004 will create a new opportunity to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some U.S. observers suggest that Europe’s more pro-Palestinian position is
motivated by an underlying anti-Semitism. In support of this view, they point to a
spate of attacks on synagogues and other Jewish institutions in Europe, a strong
European media bias against Israel, and recent statements by some European officials
criticizing Israel. In January 2004, two Jewish leaders charged the European
Commission with fueling anti-Semitism with its clumsy handling of two reports.
These leaders objected to the Commission’s release in November 2003 of an opinion
poll, which showed that 59% of the European public considered Israel a threat to
world peace, on grounds that it was dangerously inflammatory. At the same time,
they also criticized the Commission’s initial decision to shelve a 2002 study from the
EU’s racism monitoring center, claiming that the EU feared it would incite domestic
European Muslim populations with its findings that most anti-Semitic incidents in
Europe were carried out by disenfranchised Muslim youth. EU officials contend that
the report was originally withheld because it was poorly written and lacking in
empirical evidence. Following its leak to the press, the EU made public this draft
report in December 2003.
In March 2004, the EU monitoring center released a new study on anti-Semitism
in Europe, which it claims is more exhaustive and comprehensive than the original
draft study. The March 2004 report identified perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks in
Europe as both young, disaffected white Europeans as well as Muslim youth of North
African or Asian origin. Some Jewish leaders criticized this new study, asserting that
it was “full of contradictions” and sought to downplay the extent to which anti-
Semitic attacks in Europe were carried out by Muslim perpetrators.27

26 American Council on Germany, “The Future of Transatlantic Security: New Challenges,”
Occasional Paper, December 2002; Interviews of European officials, January-March 2003.
27 “Jewish Leaders Split over EU Anti-Semitism Report,” Financial Times, March 31, 2004.

Europeans stress that while these anti-Semitic incidents are troubling, they do
not represent a broad, resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe. They note that such acts
are carried out by individuals, are not state-sponsored, are punished under European
law, and are harshly condemned by European political and civic leaders. Many
European governments have sought recently to tighten their hate crime laws and
enhance education and prevention programs. In February 2004, EU officials pledged
to take steps to combat anti-Semitism vigorously at a high-level conference on anti-
Semitism sponsored by the European Commission. Europeans also stress that
criticism of Israel does not equate to anti-Semitism; they admit that such criticism in
the European media and political classes has been fierce recently, but they suggest
this reflects the depth of European anger toward Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
and his policies. Many European leaders deplore Sharon’s tactics toward the
Palestinians, believing them to be heavy-handed and counterproductive. They also
object to his leadership of Israel in light of what they consider his history of human
rights violations and war crimes in Lebanon.28
Historically, a degree of difference has always existed between U.S. and
European approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Europeans have traditionally
favored a parallel approach that applies pressure to all sides. This approach also
places equal emphasis on the security, political, and economic development agendas
that Europeans believe are all ultimately necessary for a lasting peace. European
officials stress that the only way to guarantee Israel’s security is to create a viable
Palestinian state. This is also why the EU has sought to support the Palestinian
Authority (PA) financially and to provide humanitarian, development, and
reconstruction assistance.
The EU is the largest donor of foreign assistance to the Palestinians. The EU
and its member states together provide nearly $600 million annually to the
Palestinians to promote stability, economic development, and reform. Between 2002
and 2005, EU community aid to the Palestinians — including donations to the World
Bank and U.N. agencies — was roughly $300 million per year.29 Officials maintain
that there is no evidence that any EU money has been diverted for terrorist purposes,
and insist that checks are in place to ensure that EU funds do not sponsor terrorism.
They acknowledge the fungibility of resources, but believe this is best countered by
continuing to press the PA to reform its financial management system.30

27 (...continued)
For the March 2004 EU study, see the website of the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and
Xenophobia [].
28 Peter Beaumont, “The New Anti-Semitism?,” The Observer, February 17, 2002; Craig
Smith, “French Jews Tell of a New and Threatening Wave of Anti-Semitism,” New York
Times, March 22, 2003; Richard Bernstein, “European Union Mends Rift with Jewish
Groups,” New York Times, January 9, 2004.
29 See the EU’s website: “The EU’s Relations with the West Bank and Gaza Strip”
[]; also see Press Release,
“European Commission To Support the Palestinians with 280 Million in 2005,” September

10, 2005.

30 Interviews of EU officials, January-March 2003; also see “EU Funding to the Palestinian

In contrast, the United States has more consistently shared the Israeli view that
serious negotiations can only take place when there is a clear Palestinian commitment
to peace, signified by the end of violence and terrorist activity. The degree to which
different U.S. administrations have rigidly adhered to this more sequential approach
has varied over the years, but Europeans believe that September 11 reinforced U.S.
tendencies to support Israeli positions on the timing of potential negotiations because
they hardened the Bush Administration’s view of the Palestinians. The terrorist
attacks also allowed Prime Minister Sharon to position himself as a natural U.S. ally
in the fight against terrorism. Many Europeans believe the Bush Administration has
been too easily persuaded by Sharon and too beholden to Israel for domestic political
reasons. They point out that the Administration draws considerable political support
from evangelical Christians, who strongly support the state of Israel, and has been
eager to win over traditionally Democratic Jewish voters.31
Despite the difficulties, optimists assert that common ground exists between
U.S. and European policies toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EU leaders have
been encouraged by President Bush’s support for a Palestinian state, long advocated
by Europeans. Previous U.S. administrations had shied away from endorsing a two-
state solution, maintaining that it was for the parties themselves to determine the
outcome. EU officials have also welcomed the evolution of the diplomatic “Quartet”
of the EU, Russia, the United Nations, and the United States, and its “roadmap” to
a negotiated settlement. European leaders did not support Washington’s call to
replace the late Yasser Arafat as the head of the PA; they viewed Arafat as the
democratically-elected Palestinian leader and feared that any viable alternative would
only come from more extremist factions. However, they largely agreed with the U.S.
assessment that the PA must be reformed. They were pleased with the PA’s decision
in the spring of 2003 to create a new prime minister position, and they support
stronger Palestinian institutions such as the legislature and judiciary, as well as
measures to guard against corruption and ensure transparency.32
The EU has welcomed the U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI),
which was unveiled in December 2002 and designed to promote political, economic,
and educational development throughout the Middle East. Many Europeans viewed
the MEPI as complementing the EU’s region-wide development program (the Euro-
Mediterranean Partnership) in place since 1995 and saw the MEPI as representing a
heightened U.S. awareness of the need for a broader approach to address Mideast
instability.33 In May 2003, the Bush Administration proposed creating a U.S.-Middle
East free trade area by 2013 to further economic development and liberalization in

30 (...continued)
Authority” [].
31 Robert Kaiser, “Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical on Mideast Policy,” Washington Post,
February 9, 2003.
32 Interviews of EU and European officials, January-March 2003.
33 For more information on the U.S. MEPI and the EU’s Euro-Mediterranean Partnership
Initiative (MEDA), see CRS Report RS21457, The Middle East Partnership Initiative: An
Overview; and CRS Report RL31017, The Barcelona Process: The European Union’s
Partnership with the Southern Mediterranean.

the region, and promote peace via increased prosperity. This mirrors EU plans to
create a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone by 2010.
European officials were also encouraged by initial U.S. steps to revive the peace
process in the immediate aftermath of the war with Iraq. In late April 2003, the Bush
Administration made public the Quartet’s roadmap, following the swearing-in of a
new PA Prime Minister. The EU had been pressing for its release since it was
finalized by the Quartet in December 2002. In May 2003, the Bush Administration
succeeded in swaying Sharon to endorse the roadmap, albeit with reservations. In
June 2003, President Bush visited the region and met with Prime Minister Sharon
and then-PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. European officials viewed positively
President Bush’s decisions to set up a U.S. diplomatic team in Jerusalem to monitor
implementation of the roadmap, and to designate then-National Security Adviser
Condoleezza Rice as his personal representative on Israeli-Palestinian affairs.
Since then, however, many Europeans have become frustrated by the lack of
progress on the roadmap amid ongoing violence, and they claim that the Bush
Administration has not done enough to cajole the Sharon government into making
more concessions for peace. Although the Administration has criticized Israel for
constructing a security fence and at times raised concerns about some Israeli anti-
terrorist tactics such as territorial closures and home demolitions, critics say
Washington has not devoted the sustained attention needed. They stress that the
Administration still remains wedded to the Israeli view that Palestinian terrorism
must end before serious steps toward implementing the roadmap can be taken. They
note, for example, that the U.S. monitoring team in Jerusalem kept a very low profile
(and has largely been withdrawn); as a result, it failed to provide the necessary level
of public scrutiny that was supposed to have served as an incentive for both sides of
the conflict to meet their respective obligations under the roadmap.34
U.S. support for the Sharon government’s unilateral “disengagement plan” for
the Gaza Strip was also contentious for European governments and the EU.
Although the EU has welcomed Israel’s August 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza
Strip, some European policymakers remain concerned that Israel views its
disengagement from Gaza as an alternative to the road map process. They worry that
Israel’s disengagement from Gaza could lead to the creation of a de facto Palestinian
state on far less territory than that envisaged under the roadmap process. Many
Europeans were dismayed by what they viewed as a shift in U.S. policy in April
2004, when President Bush appeared to implicitly endorse Israel’s claim to parts of
the West Bank seized in the 1967 Middle East war and to limit the Palestinians’ right
of return to Israel. The EU maintains that it will not recognize any changes to the
pre-1967 borders unless such changes are negotiated between the parties. The Bush
Administration contends that its endorsement of the Sharon plan was intended to
jumpstart the stalled peace process and, like the EU, asserts that all final status issues,

34 John Anderson and Molly Moore, “All Sides Failed to Follow Road Map,” Washington
Post, August 28, 2003.

including the return of Palestinian refugees, must still be resolved through
negotiations between the parties to the conflict.35
European governments reportedly played a key role in ensuring that the June
2004 G8 Summit initiative on the Broader Middle East and North Africa took into
account the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of any push to encourage political,
economic, and social reforms in the region. European officials criticized initial U.S.
versions of this proposal, originally named the Greater Middle East Initiative, for
failing to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Europeans asserted that any
attempt to promote reform in the Middle East would be unsuccessful if not
accompanied by simultaneous efforts to resolve this core problem. They also worried
that the United States might promote the new initiative as an alternative to the stalled
Israeli-Palestinian peace process. While U.S. and European officials overcame their
differences and reached a compromise on the Broader Middle East initiative, critics
assert that it has little practical significance for the deadlocked peace process.36
Shortly after his re-election in November 2004, President Bush asserted in a
news conference with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair that he intended to “spend the
capital of the United States” to create a free and democratic Palestinian state during
his next term. Many Europeans, however, argue that the Administration has been
slow to seize the opportunity offered by Arafat’s death to push for a quick return to
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. U.S. officials appear to favor a more incremental
approach. They stress that progress in the peace process will depend largely on
Palestinian efforts to democratize, reform, and stop Palestinian terrorism.
Washington and European capitals welcomed the January 2005 election of
Mahmoud Abbas, who is viewed as committed to ending Palestinian terrorism, as the
new President of the Palestinian Authority. U.S. officials believed that Abbas would
need time to institute reforms and establish legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian
public before engaging in comprehensive final status negotiations with Israel.
European leaders agree that developing a viable Palestinian state is a necessity, but
have continued to urge the United States to take a more active role in resolving the
conflict, partly by putting greater pressure on Israel to take steps toward peace also.37
Some Europeans view U.S. actions since the start of the second Bush
Administration as indications that Washington is working more robustly to promote

35 Guy Dinmore and Harvey Morris, “Arafat Denounces US Support for Israeli Plan,”
Financial Times, April 15, 2004; Judy Dempsey, “EU Pulls Back from Confronting US over
Gaza,” Financial Times, April 18, 2004; Glenn Kessler, “U.S. Retreats from Bush Remarks
on Sharon Plan,” Washington Post, May 5, 2004.
36 “EU Cautious on US Plan To Reform Middle East,” Financial Times, March 2, 2004;
“EU, U.S. Keen to Push Reform in Middle East,” Associated Press, June 26, 2004. For
background, also see CRS Report RS22053, The Broader Middle East and North Africa
Initiative: An Overview.
37 Dana Milbank, “President Outlines Foreign Policy,” Washington Post, December 2, 2004;
Steven Erlanger, “Israel Still Open To Road Map,” International Herald Tribune, December

16, 2004; “EU Calls for Push Towards Full Palestinian Statehood,” Financial Times,

January 10, 2005.

peace between Israel and the Palestinians. European officials welcomed U.S.
Secretary of State Rice’s trip to the region in early February 2005 and her
appointment of a U.S. coordinator to oversee Palestinian security reforms. In May
2005, the United States expanded the U.S. coordinator’s role to include mediation
between the two sides ahead of Israel’s departure from Gaza. Also, the EU was
pleased with Washington’s support for naming a Quartet special envoy in April 2005
to oversee the political and economic aspects of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
Most recently, many European policymakers stress that Secretary Rice’s direct
involvement in brokering a deal between Israel and the Palestinians on security
controls for Gaza border crossings in November 2005 has had an enormous positive
impact on European perceptions of the United States. U.S. and European officials
say the agreement will help end Gaza’s isolation, promote economic development,
and continue to ensure Israeli security. As part of this accord, the EU is assisting
with monitoring the Rafah border crossing point between Gaza and Egypt. About 70
EU monitors are being deployed to Rafah to provide expert advice and training to
Palestinian police and customs officers, as well as to allay Israeli concerns that
militant leaders or weapons may slip into Gaza through Rafah.38
In January 2006, the EU also plans to establish a small Palestinian police
training and advisory mission and will send a mission to monitor the upcoming
Palestinian legislative elections that same month. Although Hamas is listed on the
EU’s proscribed terrorist list, the EU has announced that the monitoring mission will
be permitted to have limited contact with Hamas candidates on technical electoral
matters. Like the EU, the Bush Administration has called on Hamas and all other
Palestinian factions to renounce violence but has not backed Israel’s call to exclude
Hamas from the elections, asserting that the elections are “a Palestinian process.”39
Observers note that these EU missions, especially the one at Rafah, are also an
opportunity for the EU to demonstrate that the Union can be a serious and
responsible political player in the region. At the same time, many in the EU maintain
that ultimately, progress toward a long-term peace is impossible without U.S.
leadership. Some Europeans may remain disappointed with the degree of U.S.
engagement. They assert that the Bush Administration still favors a low-key
approach to its role in promoting peace in the Middle East. Most analysts believe
that further progress in the peace process will have to await the outcome of Israel’s
parliamentary elections in March 2006.40

38 Steven Weisman, “For Rice, a Risky Dive into the Mideast Storm,” New York Times,
November 16, 2005; “EU Launches Border Gaza Mission,” Agence France Presse,
November 21, 2005.
39 Steven Erlanger, “Voted In, Hamas Sets a West Bank City Astir,” New York Times,
November 4, 2005; Sharmila Devi, “Israel Says EU Is Breaching International Terror Law,”
Financial Times, December 11, 2005.
40 Glenn Kessler, “U.S. Plans Low-Key Approach in Return to Mideast Role,” Washington
Post, February 6, 2005; Discussions with European officials, Fall 2005.

U.S.-European relations over Iran have experienced a number of ups and downs
over the last decade. Both sides of the Atlantic share similar goals with respect to
Iran: encouraging reforms and a more open society less hostile to Western interests,
ending Iranian sponsorship of terrorism against Israel, and combating Tehran’s
efforts to acquire WMD. However, policies have often differed sharply. The views
of EU members on Iran have tracked fairly closely, thereby producing broad
agreement on a common EU approach inclined toward “engagement.” In contrast,
the United States has traditionally favored isolation and containment. U.S.-EU
frictions over Iran peaked in 1996 with the passage of the U.S. Iran-Libya Sanctions
Act (ILSA), which seeks to impose sanctions on foreign firms that invest in Iran’s
energy sector. EU officials oppose what they view as ILSA’s extraterritorial
measures and contend that ILSA breaches international trade rules. Tensions eased,
however, as U.S. policy began to edge closer toward engagement following the 1997
election of relative moderate Mohammad Khatemi as Iran’s president, and the
conclusion of a U.S.-EU agreement to try to avoid a trade dispute over ILSA.
In 2002 and early 2003, U.S.-EU differences on Iran appeared to widen again.
In January 2002, President Bush included Iran as part of an “axis of evil” in his State
of the Union message following allegations of an Iranian arms shipment supposedly
destined for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and revelations of two previous
undeclared Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for
peaceful, energy-related purposes, but Washington increasingly believes that Iranian
nuclear activities are also aimed at producing nuclear weapons. At the same time,
the Bush Administration had been growing disenchanted with the prospects for
internal Iranian political reform. In July 2002, President Bush issued a statement
supporting Iranians demonstrating for reform and democracy, which was widely
interpreted as a shift in U.S. policy; experts believed it signaled that Washington had
concluded that Khatemi and his reformist faction would not be able to deliver
political change and that engaging with the Khatemi regime would be fruitless. After
Saddam Hussein was ousted from power in Iraq in 2003, some U.S. officials also
began suspecting Iran of fomenting unrest among Iraq’s long-repressed Shiites.42
In contrast, European leaders continued to hold out hope for the reformers
within Khatemi’s government, and maintained that “the glass was half full.” They
stressed, for example, what they viewed as a positive Iranian role in the campaign
against the Taliban, Khatemi’s success in distancing the government from the fatwa
against British writer Salman Rushdie, and Iran’s efforts to combat drug smuggling.
They largely viewed the alleged arms shipment to the Palestinians and Iranian
support for terrorist groups as the last gasps of a hardline Islamic foreign policy
managed by clerical factions. These optimists also argued that Iran was not seeking

41 For more information on U.S. and European policies toward Iran, see CRS Report
RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses; and CRS Report RS20871, The Iran-
Libya Sanctions Act.
42 Karl Vick, “Few Signs Emerge of U.S.-Iran Thaw,” Washington Post, May 3, 2003.

nuclear weapons to use against Israel or the West, but rather to burnish its image as
a regional power, and that Tehran’s weapons program could still be curtailed.43
The EU believed that its “conditional engagement” policy would help bolster
the reformers in Khatemi’s government. In December 2002, the EU launched
negotiations on a trade and cooperation agreement with Iran, and a separate but
linked political accord promoting EU-Iranian dialogue on human rights, non-
proliferation, and counterterrorism. Although some observers questioned how tight
the linkage between these economic and political strands of the EU’s strategy would
be, EU officials insisted that there would be no progress on the trade pact without
equal and parallel progress on the political accord. Europeans rejected U.S.
criticisms that they were putting commercial interests ahead of security concerns. As
one EU official put it, “we’re not doing this for pistachios.”44
EU-Iranian trade pact negotiations were effectively suspended in the summer
of 2003, however, as the EU grew increasingly frustrated with Iran’s slow pace on
political reforms and its ongoing human rights violations. Heightened EU worries
about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program and its lack of compliance with
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards also contributed to the
stalemate on the trade pact. EU members had high hopes for an October 2003 deal
brokered with Iran by the UK, France, and Germany (the “EU3”); Iran agreed to
accept intrusive international inspections of its nuclear facilities, and to suspend
production of enriched uranium at least temporarily, in exchange for promises of
future European exports of nuclear energy technology. But this deal soon faltered.
The Europeans viewed Iran as dragging its feet in complying with IAEA
requirements and were angered by Iran’s decision in July 2004 to resume building
nuclear centrifuges.
Since then, some observers argue that EU members have taken a harder line on
Iran’s nuclear activities, backing several resolutions with the United States rebuking
Iran for its lack of cooperation with the IAEA. A number of analysts suggest that the
EU’s tougher stance on Iran stems from its new WMD policy, agreed in June 2003,
that seeks to strengthen the IAEA and calls for exerting considerable political and
economic pressure on potential proliferators. At the same time, many point out that
the United States has also demonstrated a new willingness to compromise with its
European partners on Iran. Although Washington has continued to push the IAEA
to threaten Iran with U.N. sanctions, U.S. officials have not actively opposed the
more moderate, incentive-based approach advocated by European governments.
Many pundits speculate that both Europe and Washington have been eager to avoid
another large diplomatic row so soon after Iraq.45

43 The Atlantic Council and the German Marshall Fund, “Elusive Partnership: U.S. and
European Policies in the Near East and the Gulf,” Policy Paper, September 2002; Michael
Siebert, “European Perspectives on the Gulf,” Middle East Policy, September 2002.
44 Interviews of European officials, January-March 2003.
45 Judy Dempsey, “EU to Join US in Pressing Iran,” Financial Times, June 11, 2003; Steven
Weisman, “U.S. Takes Softer Tone on Iran,” New York Times, October 29, 2003.

Nevertheless, Washington remained cautious about Iran’s intentions, and some
U.S. policymakers worried that European leaders were being too lenient. In
September 2004, Washington advocated another IAEA resolution that would have
set October 31, 2004, as a firm deadline for Iran to suspend all enrichment activities
and to dispel remaining doubts about the nature of its nuclear program. The United
States also wanted a clear “trigger mechanism” that would automatically refer Iran
to the U.N. Security Council — where it could face trade sanctions — if it did not
comply by the deadline. Washington backed down on these demands, however,
because of a lack of support from European and non-European IAEA members.
European governments argued that the threat of sanctions would reduce their
negotiating leverage and harden Iran’s position about its need for nuclear weapons.
In November 2004, the UK, France, and Germany brokered a new deal with Iran
aimed at ending activities that could lead to nuclear weapons production in exchange
for promises of civilian nuclear technology and political and trade incentives. Iran
claims it agreed to voluntarily and temporarily suspend its uranium enrichment work
as an act of good faith. In mid-December 2004, Iran and the EU3 opened
negotiations on a long-term agreement on nuclear, economic, and security
cooperation as part of the deal. The EU also resumed its negotiations with Iran on
a trade and cooperation agreement in January 2005 as part of this process. EU3
officials hoped that they could convince Iran to make a strategic decision to forego
acquiring nuclear weapons in return for trade, aid, and security rewards.
Washington remained skeptical about the chances of success of the EU3
approach. U.S. policymakers believed that Iran was using the negotiations process
offered by the EU3 to play for time and likely continuing its work on a covert nuclear
weapons program. Meanwhile, Europeans urged greater U.S. engagement with Iran,
believing that the absence of the United States from the negotiating table was
limiting their ability to deliver on some of the most ambitious rewards discussed with
the Iranians, such as supporting Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization
(WTO). Washington had repeatedly blocked Iranian attempts in the WTO to open
accession talks.46
European governments continued to promote U.S. engagement with Iran in
order to bolster the EU3’s negotiating position. In March 2005, the Bush
Administration agreed to offer limited economic incentives if Iran agreed to
cooperate with the EU3 on nuclear matters. The incentives included facilitating
Iranian access to spare airplane parts for its aging commercial fleet and dropping
objections to beginning WTO accession negotiations with Iran, which Washington
did in May 2005. In return, the EU3 pledged to pursue punitive U.N. measures if
negotiations with Iran failed. The Bush Administration stressed that the incentives
offered to Iran were not a reward for the Iranians but rather were meant to

46 Dafna Linzer, “Nuclear Agency Praise Iran,” Washington Post, November 30, 2004;
Elaine Sciolino, “Iran and Europeans Open a New Round of Negotiations,” New York Times,
December 14, 2004; Discussions with U.S. and European officials, December 2004.

demonstrate the U.S. commitment to improving relations with Europe and U.S.
backing for the EU3’s efforts to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions.47
The EU3’s discussions with Iran on a permanent nuclear agreement, however,
began to break down ahead of Iran’s June 2005 elections, which resulted in the
election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. The EU3’s negotiations
with Iran have been effectively stalled since August 2005, following Iran’s
resumption of uranium conversion, an early stage in the nuclear fuel cycle. In
accordance with their March 2005 pledge, the EU3 have been working with the
United States on an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution that
would refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council. This resolution, however, has run into
opposition from many IAEA members, including Russia, China, and India. In
September 2005, the United States and the EU3 succeeded in convincing a slim
majority of the IAEA’s 35 board member countries to pass a resolution finding Iran
in non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to refer Iran to the U.N.
Security Council, but did not set a timeline or firm date for such a referral. In
November 2005, the United States and EU3 decided against pushing for another
IAEA vote to refer Iran to the Security Council, given a lack of support within the
IAEA for doing so at that time.
Instead, the United States and the EU3 have thrown support behind a Russian
proposal in which Iranian uranium would be enriched at a facility in Russia and then
returned to Iran for civilian use. Iran has rejected this offer, insisting that it has the
right to perform uranium enrichment inside Iran. On November 27, 2005, the EU3
offered to hold an exploratory meeting with Iran to see if there was “enough common
basis” to restart negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program and the Russian
compromise proposal. The EU3 insists that it will not resume formal negotiations
with Iran until Iran re-suspends its uranium conversion work.48
Washington hopes that Iran will return to the negotiating table with the EU3 but
has also floated the idea publicly that European and other concerned countries
consider curbing their trade and investment relations with Iran if talks fail to
convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Some observers suggest that
President Ahmadinejad’s public statements calling the Holocaust a “myth” and for
Israel to be “wiped off” the map may make any EU3-Iranian negotiations over
nuclear matters more difficult and strengthen European resolve to push for a U.N.
Security Council referral or other diplomatic or economic sanctions on Iran. At the
same time, many Europeans remain concerned that Washington may ultimately
conclude that diplomacy has failed to address the Iranian nuclear threat and that a
military option should be considered against Iranian nuclear sites.49

47 Steve Weisman, “Europe and U.S. Agree on Carrot-and-Stick Approach To Iran,” New
York Times, March 12, 2005; Sonni Efron, “Bush Softens Stance on Iran,” Los Angeles
Times, March 12, 2005.
48 “U.S. Calls on Iran To Return to Nuclear Talks,” Agence France Presse, December 1,


49 “U.S. Prods Other Countries To Threaten Iran with Sanctions,” Agence France Presse,
November 30, 2005; “Iranian President’s Anti-Israel Comments Could Lead to EU

As with Iran, European policies toward Syria have traditionally been more
inclined toward engagement than containment or isolation. Several European
countries have long-standing, historic relationships with Syria, and cooperation
between the EU (as an entity) and Syria dates back to the late 1970s. The EU is a
major trading partner for Syria. Syria has participated in the EU’s Euro-
Mediterranean Partnership program since its start in 1995. The development of
closer EU-Syrian relations has been stymied by EU concerns about the seriousness
of Syria’s commitment to undertake political and economic reforms and protect
human rights. In October 2004, Syria and the EU concluded negotiations on a long-
delayed Association Agreement, which sets out a new framework for relations in the
context of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The Agreement covers trade and
foreign aid, includes provisions on respect for human rights and democratic
principles, and seeks to promote Syrian cooperation in countering terrorism and the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Agreement has not yet been
ratified, however, by the EU.
In contrast, U.S.-Syrian relations have been largely frosty for decades, and
Washington has imposed a range of political and economic sanctions on Syria. In the
immediate aftermath of the war with Iraq, some Europeans were alarmed by U.S.
warnings to Syria over its alleged chemical weapons program and its support for
terrorist groups (including radical Palestinian factions and the militant Lebanese
Shi’ite Muslim group Hizballah) and U.S. accusations that Syria was not doing
enough to stop the flow of Islamic militants and former Iraqi Baathists into Iraq.
Some commentators worried that U.S.-European differences over Syria could
become another difficult flashpoint in the transatlantic relationship.
The EU and some European governments, however, appear to have hardened
their views of Syria recently. The conclusion of the Association Agreement was
delayed for almost a year because of Syria’s reluctance to sign up to the WMD
clause. And France for the past several years has been increasingly vocal about its
concerns regarding Syria’s 14,000-strong military presence in Lebanon and its heavy
involvement in Lebanese politics. France, the former colonial power in Lebanon, has
come to view Syria’s dominance of Lebanese politics as a de-stabilizing influence
and has been frustrated by the lack of internal political reform within Syria. In early
September 2004, France and the United States co-sponsored a U.N. Security Council
resolution calling on all foreign forces in Lebanon to withdraw and for an end to
foreign influence in Lebanon’s political system, although it did not mention Syria by
name. The EU in December 2004 essentially endorsed this U.N. resolution, which
also called for the disbandment of armed groups in Lebanon, such as Hizballah,
which has ties to Syria.

49 (...continued)
Sanctions,” Associated Press, December 16, 2005; Discussions with European officials, Fall


50 For more information on Syria, see CRS Report RL32727, Syria: Political Conditions
and Relations with the United States after the Iraq War, and CRS Issue Brief IB92075,
Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues.

The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others
in February 2005 helped galvanize U.S.-European cooperative efforts to pressure
Syria to withdraw all its military and intelligence personnel from Lebanon. Many
suspect Syrian involvement in the assassination, although Syria has denied these
allegations. Washington and Paris led the effort to encourage Syria’s withdrawal
from Lebanon. The EU echoed these demands. The European Parliament warned
that Syria’s failure to comply with the September 2004 U.N. resolution could
endanger the ratification of the EU-Syrian Association Agreement. The Agreement’s
ratification appears to be on hold pending the outcome of the U.N. investigation into
the death of Hariri and Syria’s alleged involvement.51
In late March 2005, Syria announced it would withdraw all of its military and
intelligence personnel from Lebanon; Syria claimed these withdrawals were
completed by April 26, 2005. The United Nations has since verified that there is no
significant Syrian military or intelligence presence remaining in Lebanon. Many in
the United States and Europe, however, remain concerned that Syria is not fully
cooperating with the U.N. investigation into the Hariri assassination and that Syrian
officials maintain undue influence through their extensive contacts in the Lebanese
bureaucracy and security services. U.S. and European leaders have also expressed
alarm at the series of violent attacks on several prominent anti-Syrian political and
media leaders in the months following Hariri’s death.
On October 31, 2005, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed
a resolution — co-sponsored by the United States, Britain, and France — calling on
Syria to cooperate fully with the U.N. investigation into the Hariri killing or face
unspecified “further action.” The resolution’s sponsors decided against pressing for
a threat of clear economic sanctions at that time to gain the support of Russia, China,
and other Security Council members and maintain a united international front. On
December 15, 2005, the U.N. Security Council passed another resolution citing Syria
for its continued lack of full cooperation with U.N. investigators, extending for
another six months the U.N. probe and authorizing U.N. officials to provide technical
assistance to Lebanese authorities investigating other political killings in which some
believe Syria may have been involved.52
Some analysts question, however, how sustainable U.S.-European cooperation
on Syria will be in the longer term. The United States may be more inclined than
France or other EU member states to press for punitive measures against Syria sooner
rather than later. Another key U.S.-European division remains the EU’s reluctance
to add Hizballah — which is based in Lebanon but backed by Syria and Iran — to the
EU’s common terrorist list. While Washington considers Hizballah a terrorist group

51 “EU Parliament Demands Syrian Pullout from Lebanon,” Agence France Presse, February

25, 2005; Robin Wright, “U.S., France Urge Syria To Withdraw from Lebanon,”

Washington Post, March 1, 2005; “EU’s Solana Wants Specific Timetable for Syrian
Withdrawal,” AFX International, March 6, 2005; “Germany, France Demand Full Syrian
Troop Withdrawal from Lebanon,” Agence France Presse, March 7, 2005.
52 “U.N. Pressures Syria on Assassination Probe,” Washington Post, November 1, 2005.;
Warren Hoge, “U.N. Extends Inquiry into Killing of Lebanon’s Ex-Premier,” New York
Times, December 16, 2005.

that supports violence against Israel, some EU members have long resisted U.S. and
Israeli entreaties to add Hizballah to the EU’s blacklist on grounds that it also
provides needed social services and is considered by many Lebanese as a legitimate
political force (members of Hizballah have been elected to Lebanon’s parliament).
France, among other EU members, believes that adding Hizballah to the EU’s
common terrorist list would be counterproductive and could intensify Lebanon’s
political turbulence.53
Counter ter r or i sm
Since September 11, 2001, U.S. and European officials have sought to present
a united front against terrorism. Most European governments have cooperated
closely with U.S. law enforcement authorities in tracking down terrorist suspects and
freezing financial assets. Many have tightened their laws against terrorism and
sought to improve their border control mechanisms. Moreover, the September 11
attacks have given new momentum to EU initiatives to boost police and judicial
cooperation both among member states and with the United States to better combat
terrorism and other cross-border crimes. The March 11, 2004, terrorist bombings in
Madrid, Spain further energized EU law enforcement efforts against terrorism. The
terrorist attacks on London’s mass transport system in July 2005 have also prompted
additional EU efforts to bolster law enforcement and intelligence cooperation and
have focused increased European attention on the need to combat Islamist
recruitment and radicalization in Europe.54
Some differences in U.S. and European approaches to counterterrorism exist and
have become more evident as Washington has broadened the war against terrorism
beyond Al Qaeda and Afghanistan. Most EU members continue to view terrorism
primarily as an issue for law enforcement and political action rather than a problem
to be solved by military means. Many European officials and governments are
uncomfortable with the Bush Administration’s tendency to equate the war in Iraq
with the war on terrorism.
The past experiences of several European countries in countering domestic
terrorists, such as the Irish Republican Army in the UK or the Basque separatist
group ETA in Spain, also color perceptions. Many Europeans have drawn the lesson
that relying on the use of force does not work and only serves to alienate “hearts and
minds.” Europeans are increasingly worried that the United States is losing the battle
for Muslim “hearts and minds” not only because of the war with Iraq and

53 Steven Weisman, “Allies Resisting as U.S. Pushes Terror Label for Hezbollah,” New
York Times, February 17, 2005; “Bush Unlikely To Gain EU Support for Putting Hezbollah
on Terror List,” Associated Press, February 17, 2005; Colum Lynch, “Report Says Syria
Interfered in Hariri Probe,” Washington Post, December 13, 2005.
54 For more information on the counter-terrorist efforts of the EU and individual European
countries, see CRS Report RL31509, Europe and Counterterrorism: Strengthening Police
and Judicial Cooperation; CRS Report RL31612, European Counterterrorist Efforts:
Political Will and Diverse Responses in the First Year after September 11; and CRS Report
RS22211, Islamist Extremism in Europe. Also see CRS Report RS22030, U.S.-EU
Cooperation Against Terrorism.

Washington’s traditional support for Israel but also because of U.S. decisions that
some charge violate human rights, such as detaining suspected Al Qaeda terrorists
at Guantánamo Bay. Europeans were deeply dismayed by the Abu Ghraib prison
scandal in Iraq; critics charge that it has seriously damaged U.S. credibility in both
the Middle East and in Europe. The 9/11 Commission recognized that allegations
of U.S. prisoner abuse “make it harder to build the diplomatic, political, and military
alliances” that the United States needs in order to combat terrorism worldwide. The
EU and judicial officials and parliamentarians from several EU member states have
also expressed concerns about a November 2005 Washington Post news report of
alleged “secret” CIA prisons for terrorist suspects in some eastern European countries
and the possible use of some European airports as transit points for U.S. flights
transporting abducted terrorist prisoners.55
Many Europeans believe that although good law enforcement and intelligence
capabilities are essential, efforts against terrorism will only be successful, ultimately,
if equal attention is paid to addressing the political, social, and economic disparities
that often help foster terrorist violence. European leaders were initially skeptical of
the U.S.-proposed Broader Middle East initiative, however, because they worried that
it sought to democratize the Middle East and impose Western values. Although
Europeans would agree that a more democratic Middle East would help promote
peace and stability, many doubt that it can be dictated from the outside and are
uncomfortable with attempts to do so because to them, it smacks of colonialism and
a religious fervor. Some Europeans also worry that introducing democracy into Arab
countries could lead to anti-Western factions or militant Islamists winning elections.
Thus, some Europeans suggest a more nuanced, country-by-country approach to the
region that would seek to identify reformers and work with them to try to effect
change and stem terrorism.56
The compromise ultimately reached by the United States with key European
governments and others on the Broader Middle East initiative emphasizes regional
partnerships and seeks to encourage political reform and social and economic
development from within Middle Eastern societies. The 9/11 Commission welcomed
this initiative as a potential starting point for a dialogue about reform between the
Muslim world and the West. Skeptics doubt, however, the extent to which the new
initiative will truly provide a vehicle for U.S.-European cooperation in the region.
They assert that each side of the Atlantic will likely continue to engage in the region
through its own existing policy instruments, such as the U.S. Middle East Partnership
Initiative and the EU’s Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.57 Provisions in the
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458) seek to
promote Middle East development and reform and improve international
collaboration against terrorism.

55 Craig Whitlock, “U.S. Faces Scrutiny Over Secret Prisons,” Washington Post, November

4, 2005; “European MPs To Probe CIA Claims,” BBC News, December 15, 2005.

56 Also see Judy Dempsey, “EU Ministers Put Forward Strategy for Mideast,” Financial
Times, March 25, 2004.
57 “EU, U.S. Keen To Push Reform in the Middle East,” Associated Press, June 26, 2004.

Another point of U.S.-EU friction centers on definitional differences of what
constitutes a terrorist. Several commentators suggest that the EU has been slower to
name several organizations to its common terrorist list because some members view
certain groups as more revolutionary than terrorist in nature. The EU has also been
more inclined to distinguish between the political and military wings of the same
organization, such as Hamas; although the EU terrorist list included Hamas’ military
wing since its first iteration in December 2001, the political wing was not added until
September 2003. Some EU members had argued that Hamas’ political wing
provided crucial social services in the West Bank and Gaza, and worried that listing
it would only further inflame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU has been unable
to reach agreement, however, on adding related charities or individuals suspected of
raising money for Hamas to its list. As mentioned above, EU member states also
remain divided on how to treat Hizballah for similar reasons, despite increasing U.S.
and Israeli pressure to include the organization on its common terrorist list.
Some analysts are concerned that U.S.-EU cooperation against terrorism — as
well as broader Western-Arab cooperation — could be negatively affected in the
future by other contentious Mideast issues. They suggest that European domestic
opposition to U.S. policies in the Middle East could undermine the determination of
some European governments to tighten their anti-terrorist laws, or to extradite
suspected terrorists to the United States. Others dismiss such concerns. They stress
that Europe remains vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and law enforcement cooperation
serves European as well as U.S. interests. They also point out that despite the rift
over Iraq, U.S.-EU efforts against terrorism continue. For example, in June 2003, the
EU and the United States signed two treaties on extradition and mutual legal
assistance to help harmonize the bilateral accords that already exist, and promote
better information-sharing. Some Europeans remain worried that U.S. actions in
Iraq and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict could weaken Arab countries’
resolve to cooperate in the fight against terrorism — a factor that is often crucial to
the success of U.S. and European counterterrorism efforts.58
U.S. Perspectives
Administration Views
The Bush Administration views the Middle East as a key area from which two
dominant threats, terrorism and WMD, emanate. The Administration asserts that
these threats must be confronted to ensure U.S. national security, and argues that
greater peace and stability in the region will only be possible once these twin threats
are eliminated. Many officials criticize the counterterrorist policies of the previous
Clinton Administration as being too weak, which they believe contributed to Al
Qaeda’s sense of impunity. For the Bush Administration, September 11 “changed
everything” about dealing with regimes that possess WMD because of the risk that

58 Steven Everts, “The EU and the Middle East: A Call for Action,” Center for European
Reform Working Paper, January 2003; Jonathan Stevenson, “How Europe and America
Defend Themselves,” Foreign Affairs, March-April 2003; Interviews of European officials,
Spring-Summer 2003.

they could supply such weapons to terrorists.59 The Administration remains
convinced that Al Qaeda is eager to acquire WMD capabilities, and is vexed by what
it views as much of Europe’s strategic myopia toward this threat. Although pleased
with EU and bilateral European police, judicial, and intelligence cooperation against
terrorism, Administration officials claim that law enforcement alone is not always a
sufficient tool, especially for countering WMD proliferation.
Moreover, the Bush Administration maintains that removing Saddam Hussein
from power was a necessary first step on the road to peace and stability in the region.
U.S. officials say it deprives Palestinian-related terrorist networks of a vocal patron
who exploited the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for self-serving purposes. They also
hope that the display of U.S. power will help prompt Iran and Syria to forego
acquiring WMD and stop supporting anti-Israeli terrorist groups. The Bush
Administration remains deeply concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and
possible progress on a nuclear weapons program, asserts that all options remain on
the table, but that it is committed to trying to resolve differences with Iran
diplomatically. U.S. officials maintain that they welcome and support the EU3’s
efforts to curb Iranian nuclear aspirations.
Washington insists it fully supports a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict and the broader effort toward Middle East peace, but also
maintains that no permanent peace is possible without an end to terrorism. The Bush
Administration hopes that Arafat’s death offers a new opportunity for Palestinians
to pursue democratic reforms and a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
To help foster greater peace and stability in the Middle East, the Administration
has also set its sights on promoting more democratically accountable governments.
U.S. officials reject the arguments of European skeptics who say this is not feasible;
they point out that the same doubts were raised after World War II about the ability
of Germany and Japan to sustain democratic values. Some U.S. commentators
suggest that European governments have been slow to address the democratic deficit
in the Middle East because they fear doing so would impede their relations with Arab
states and negatively affect their commercial interests. They believe that the Broader
Middle East Initiative has forced European governments to grapple with the need for
political, economic, and social reform in the region and assert that encouraging
reforms should not be held hostage to progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As for charges that Washington’s pursuit of war with Iraq has damaged the
credibility of multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and NATO,
Administration officials argue that the blame lies with France, Germany, and others.
In February 2003, President Bush stated that, “High-minded pronouncements against
proliferation mean little unless the strongest nations are willing to stand behind
them.” Administration officials claim that countries such as France that effectively
blocked a second U.N. resolution explicitly authorizing force against Iraq have
weakened the United Nations by exposing it as a paper tiger, lacking in authority and

59 Ronald Brownstein, “Are Bush and Blair Reading from the Same Script?,” Los Angeles
Times, March 11, 2003; Glenn Kessler and Mike Allen, “U.S. Missteps Led to Failed
Diplomacy,” Washington Post, March 16, 2003.

power. U.S. critics also assert that Paris is keen to promote the United Nations
because some of France’s self-image as a leading international power derives from
its permanent seat on the Security Council. Some suggest that France and other
European countries are eager to keep Washington engaged in multilateral institutions
because this helps constrain U.S. power and influence. U.S. officials also accuse
France, Germany, and Belgium of causing strains within the NATO alliance by
blocking for several weeks in early 2003 the deployment of NATO military assets to
Turkey to help defend it against a possible attack from neighboring Iraq.60
Bush Administration views toward the EU as an actor in the Middle East appear
mixed and vary issue by issue. Official U.S. policy supports EU efforts to develop
a common foreign and security policy in the hopes that a Europe able to speak with
one voice will be a better, more effective partner for the United States. Some point
to the EU’s participation in the Quartet as a key example. Other U.S. strategists
worry, however, that the position taken on Iraq by some EU members, especially
France, is motivated by its desire to see the EU evolve into a counterweight to the
United States. They caution that the evolution of more common EU policies could
decrease U.S. influence in Europe and widen the gap between the two sides of the
Atlantic. A number of Europeans were alarmed by Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld’s statement splitting European allies into “old” and “new” because they
believe it could be indicative of the desire of some in Washington to keep Europe
weak and divided. Many EU officials also assert that while France may be a leading
player in the EU, the majority of EU member states and candidate countries reject the
French notion that Brussels should seek to balance Washington.61
Congressional Views
Congress actively supported U.S. efforts to contain Iraq. Like the
Administration, some Members of Congress expressed serious concerns about the
behavior of several European allies in NATO and at the United Nations. France and
Germany have borne the brunt of Congressional criticisms. In the spring of 2003,
some Members proposed sanctions against French imports such as wine and water,
and ending U.S. military contracts with certain French-owned corporations. Others,
however, suggested that such actions would negatively affect U.S. subsidiaries of
French companies and U.S. jobs. H.Amdt. 55 (proposed April 3, 2003 by
Representative Mark Kennedy) to the wartime supplemental funding measure (H.R.
1559, P.L. 108-011) called for prohibiting the use of Iraq reconstruction funds to
purchase goods or services from France and Germany, among others; although
H.Amdt. 55 passed the House, it was deleted from H.R. 1559 as enacted.62

60 “NATO Crisis Deepens Rift Between U.S. and Europe,” Financial Times, February 10,
2003; Text of President Bush’s remarks to the American Enterprise Institute, as cited in
“Bush Expresses Hope for Postwar Peace,” Washington Post, February 26, 2003; Steven
Weisman, “Syria Sanctions Threatened,” International Herald Tribune, April 17, 2003.
61 Interviews of European officials, January-March 2003.
62 Jim VendeHei, “U.S. Lawmakers Weigh Actions to Punish France, Germany,”
Washington Post, February 12, 2003; Paul Bluestein, “House Members Target Sodexho,”
Washington Post, March 29, 2003; also see CRS Report RL31715, Iraq War: Background

Many Members are also concerned with possible next steps in the Middle East
peace process. Congress remains a strong supporter of Israel and is dismayed by
ongoing Palestinian terrorism. Numerous Members view the Quartet’s roadmap
cautiously, and warn the Administration that no serious negotiations should be
pursued until Palestinian violence against Israel stops. Following the January 2005
Palestinian elections, however, both the House and Senate passed resolutions
commending the election results (see H.Res. 56, introduced by Representative Roy
Blunt, passed February 2, 2005, and S.Res. 27, introduced by Senator William Frist,
passed February 1, 2005). Like the Administration, Members of Congress have
welcomed Mahmoud Abbas as the new President of the PA but also urged him to
advance reform and end Palestinian terrorism.63
Some Members of Congress also continue to demand greater political and
economic accountability before giving any financial assistance to the PA. In January
2005, the Bush Administration proposed $350 million in aid for Palestinian
democracy and security programs in its supplemental budget request. The FY2005
Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 109-13) provided a total of $275 million in
response to the President’s request, but Congress specified that $50 million of the
funds be used to assist Israel in easing Palestinian movements and that $5 million be
earmarked to evaluate the PA’s accounting procedures and audit its expenditures.
The FY2006 foreign operations appropriations act (P.L. 109-102) passed in
November 2005 provides $150 million for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.64
Furthermore, Congress continues to eye Iran warily. The United States has
imposed a wide variety of economic sanctions against Iran since 1979. Many are
aimed at curbing Iranian support for terrorism and Iran’s WMD aspirations. In
August 2001, Congress renewed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act for another five years
(P.L. 107-24). Members of Congress also continue to discuss ways to encourage
regime change and promote democracy in Iran. For both FY2004 and FY2005,
Congress appropriated respectively up to $1.5 million (in P.L. 108-199) and $3
million (in P.L. 108-447) for democracy promotion activities in Iran. For FY2006,
Congress appropriated up to $10 million in democracy promotion funds for use in
Iran (in P.L. 109-102). In January 2005, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
introduced H.R. 282 that seeks to strengthen ILSA and recommends providing new
U.S. aid to pro-democracy groups in Iran. A companion bill, S. 333, with similar
provisions was introduced in February 2005 by Senator Rick Santorum.65
The United States also maintains a number of economic sanctions on Syria. In
November 2003, Congress passed H.R. 1828 (introduced in April 2003 by
Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Eliot Engel) and President Bush signed the

62 (...continued)
and Issues Overview; and CRS Report RL31829, Supplemental Appropriations FY2003.
63 Jonathan Riehl, “Middle East Road Map May Have Wrinkles,” CQ Weekly, May 3, 2003;
“Seize the Moment Bush Tells Palestinian Leader,” Reuters, February 21, 2005.
64 For more information, see CRS Issue Brief IB91137, The Middle East Peace Talks.
65 For more information, see CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy

bill as P.L. 108-175; it calls for additional sanctions until Syria stops supporting
terrorism, ends its occupation of Lebanon, and halts efforts to develop WMD. The
Bush Administration initially worried this legislation might undermine the Middle
East peace process, threaten Syrian cooperation in the U.S. war against terrorism, and
create another point of contention with the EU. The Administration dropped its
objections to H.R. 1828 in October 2003 following escalating tension between Israel
and Syria and allegations that Syria had allowed Arab volunteers bent on attacking
U.S. forces to cross into Iraq. President Bush imposed sanctions in accordance with
P.L. 108-175 in May 2004 that ban many U.S. exports to Syria and prohibit Syrian
aircraft from flying to or from the United States.66
Members of Congress expressed serious concerns over the assassination of
former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and called for Syria to withdraw its military
forces and intelligence personnel from Lebanon. S.Res.63 (introduced by Senator
Joseph Biden) to this effect was passed on February 17, 2005. Some Members are
displeased with Syrian actions that they view as hindering the U.N. investigation into
Hariri’s death (see H.Res. 510 introduced by Representative Robert Wexler on
October 25, 2005, and H.Res. 598 introduced by Representative Darrell Issa on
December 14, 2005). And many Members also remain concerned with the absence
of Hizballah on the EU’s common terrorist list. H.Res. 101 (introduced by
Representative Jim Saxton on February 15, 2005), which urges the EU to add
Hizballah to its common terrorist list, was passed on March 14, 2005. A similar
measure, S.Res. 82 (introduced by Senator George Allen on March 15, 2005), passed
on April 29, 2005.
Effects on the
Broader Transatlantic Relationship
Historically, U.S.-European relations have experienced numerous ups and
downs. Pro-Atlanticists have always stressed in times of tension the underlying
solidity of the transatlantic relationship given its basis in common values and shared
interests. Even without the Soviet threat to bind the two sides of the Atlantic
together, many observers note that the United States and its European allies and
friends face a common set of challenges in the Middle East and elsewhere, and have
few other prospective partners. Conventional wisdom has dictated that whatever
frictions exist in the relationship merely represent disagreements among friends
characteristic of U.S.-European “business as usual.”
However, many analysts worry that the transatlantic relationship is fraying.
They question the Bush Administration’s commitment to partnership with Europe in
light of disagreements over the Middle East and other trade and foreign policy issues.
Europeans assert that Washington imported disagreements over Iraq into NATO with
little concern for the consequences of such actions for the alliance, which has been
the cornerstone of European security for the last half-century. Meanwhile, U.S.

66 For more information, see CRS Issue Brief IB92075, Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral

critics see little value in trying to bridge U.S.-European policy gaps given the limited
military capabilities of most European countries to contribute to U.S. operations
aimed at reducing the threats posed by terrorism and WMD proliferation.
Some European officials also resent that U.S. policies toward Iraq exposed
divisions among EU members at a time when the EU has been seeking to shape its
future structure and forge a more common foreign and security policy. A number of
observers suggest that this is a key reason why the transatlantic quarrel over Iraq was
divisive. The internal EU clashes over Iraq were in part indicative of a broader
power struggle among and between EU member states and EU candidates over the
future of the Union — in particular, the future shape of CFSP and who speaks for
Europe, as well as what kind of relationship the EU desires with the United States.
Despite several common EU statements in January and February 2003 calling on Iraq
to disarm, experts contend these pronouncements only papered over differences on
the use of force, and represented the lowest common denominator of EU opinion.
Many analysts say the true depth of the EU rift over Iraq was exposed by the
January 30, 2003 decision of five EU members and three aspirants to publicly call for
unity with Washington on Iraq, which was followed by a similar declaration by seven
other EU candidates and three Balkan countries with EU aspirations. The lack of
prior consultation on these statements with Brussels or Athens, holder of the EU’s
rotating Presidency at the time, outraged Paris and some other EU capitals. French
President Jacques Chirac publically blasted the EU candidates, stating that they were
“badly brought up” and had “missed a good opportunity to keep quiet.”67
Some attribute Chirac’s outburst to fears of dwindling French influence over
CFSP’s development as the EU expands to include central and eastern European
states that Paris perceives as more pro-American.68 Many new EU member states
still view the United States as the ultimate guarantor of European security. Although
some new EU members may have privately shared French and German concerns
about U.S. actions in Iraq, they viewed the crisis as a strategic choice between the
United States and Saddam Hussein, and calculated that the Iraqi regime was not
worth putting good relations with Washington at risk. At the same time, then-EU
candidates were dismayed by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s comments
in February 2003 that divided Europe into “old” (countries that opposed the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq) and “new” (countries that supported it) given their desires to join
“a Europe whole and free.” Other experts also attribute the statements supporting the
U.S. stance on Iraq to a rebellion by smaller EU members and aspirants to French-
German attempts to reassert themselves as the key drivers of the EU agenda.69

67 James Blitz and George Parker, “Blair and Chirac Collide over New Europe,” Financial
Times, February 18, 2003; Philip H. Gordon, “The Crisis in the Alliance,” Iraq Memo #11,
The Brookings Institution, February 24, 2003.
68 On May 1, 2004, the EU enlarged from 15 to 25 member states. Eight of the 10 new
members are from Central and Eastern Europe. For more information, see CRS Report
RS21344, European Union Enlargement.
69 Henry Chu, “Europe Is Taking a Prewar Hit,” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2003;
Interviews of European officials, January-March 2003.

Since the end of major combat operations in Iraq, European and EU officials
have been seeking to mend fences, both within the EU and between Europe and the
United States. Some observers suggest that the internal EU rift over Iraq may have
reinvigorated EU efforts to build CFSP in order to avoid similar bitter internecine
disputes in the future. In May 2003, EU foreign ministers tasked the EU’s High
Representative for CFSP, Javier Solana, with developing an EU security strategy to
identify common EU security interests and joint policy responses; this new, first-ever
EU security strategy was officially approved in December 2003.
At the June 2003 EU summit in Greece, EU leaders attempted to portray the EU
as a reliable partner that also recognizes the significant threats posed by terrorism,
WMD, and failed states. U.S. policymakers reportedly welcomed the EU’s new
WMD doctrine, agreed at the Greece summit, and its threat to use “coercive
measures” as a last resort, asserting that it marked a “new realism” in the EU.70 Also
in June 2003, the United States and the EU issued a joint statement in which they
pledged closer cooperation to better combat the spread of WMD. At the June 2004
U.S.-EU summit in Ireland, both sides sought to portray the transatlantic dispute over
Iraq as being firmly behind them and stressed the importance of the U.S.-EU
The Bush Administration asserted that it would make mending transatlantic
relations — in both NATO and the EU — a priority in its second term. Europeans
welcomed these efforts and responded positively to President Bush’s and Secretary
Rice’s trips to Europe in February 2005. Many believe they have gone a long way
toward improving the atmospherics of the relationship and that the discussions
between President Bush and key European leaders have helped to narrow some
differences over how to manage Iran and Syria.
Despite these hopeful signs, skeptics assert that the wounds from the clash over
Iraq have not fully healed and U.S. and European policies still diverge on many
issues. Several factors will likely influence how deep and lasting the damage from
the dispute over Iraq and subsequent policies in the Middle East will be to the
broader transatlantic relationship. One key determinant will be whether the United
States and its European allies and friends can cooperate more robustly in the future
in rebuilding Iraq. Another factor likely to affect the shape of the future transatlantic
relationship may be whether the Europeans perceive a renewed commitment by the
United States to engage in a sustained effort to revive Middle East peace
Furthermore, observers note that the overall transatlantic relationship would
further deteriorate if recriminations over Iraq or policy differences on other Middle
East issues were to weaken NATO or impede the EU’s efforts to forge a deeper and
wider Union. Some worry that Washington has lost confidence in NATO as a result
of the failure of France, Germany, and Belgium to clearly and quickly support their
fellow ally Turkey as the conflict with Iraq loomed. They believe this incident will
reinforce those in the Administration already inclined to marginalize NATO, viewing

70 Judy Dempsey, “U.S. Arms Talks Test Realism in EU Relations,” Financial Times, June

23, 2003; also see CRS Report RS21757, The European Union in 2005 and Beyond.

it at best as a hedge against a resurgent Russia and as a stabilizing element in the
Balkans. Some also suggest that the crisis over Iraq emboldened France to renew its
efforts to develop a European defense arm independent of NATO and the
transatlantic link. They point to the April 2003 meeting of French, German, Belgian,
and Luxembourg leaders to discuss creating a European military headquarters. This
initiative was scaled back in December 2003, but some experts believe that the EU
agreement to enhance its existing military planning capabilities may be the first step
in driving the transatlantic alliance apart — despite the fact that EU leaders also
agreed to set up an EU planning cell at NATO and will accept NATO liaison officers
at the EU to ensure transparency and cooperation between the two organizations.
Over the last several years, some Europeans worried that the Bush
Administration — in part because of U.S.-European differences over Iraq and other
contentious Middle East issues — was keen to keep Europe weak and divided in
order to preserve U.S. leverage on individual EU member states. They feared that
Secretary Rumsfeld’s comments about “old” and “new” Europe signaled an
unofficial shift in U.S. policy away from continued support for further European
integration. Such concerns have contributed significantly to recent frictions in the
broader U.S.-European relationship. President Bush’s visit to the EU’s institutions
while in Brussels in February 2005, and his clear assertion that “the United States
wants the European project to succeed,” have helped alleviate some European
anxieties.71 However, if future U.S. policy choices related to Iran, the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict, or Syria again divide EU member states and thus hinder the EU’s
development of CFSP, this could negatively affect the broader transatlantic
relationship as many Europeans may find the United States an easy target to blame.
Others fear that U.S.-European disputes over the Middle East could spill over
into U.S.-EU trade relations. They point out that the breakdown in trust between the
two sides of the Atlantic could complicate efforts to resolve U.S.-EU trade disputes
or to sustain U.S.-EU cooperation in multilateral trade negotiations.72

71 See the transcript of the press conference following the meeting of EU heads of state and
government and President Bush, February 22, 2005, available on the EU’s website
[ press_room/presspacks /us20050222/transcript.pdf].
72 Oxford Analytica Brief, “Iraq Trade Fallout,” March 26, 2003; Interviews of European
officials, Summer 2003.