Next week's presidential elections in Egypt and the reconvening of international talks with Iran in Baghdad could have far-reaching implications for the United States, Israel, the Middle East and beyond.
When the Egyptians go to the polls, they will be choosing among an array of candidates who hold vastly divergent views of the role of Islam and what their new democracy should look like. What the candidates all seem to have in common is disdain for their nation's 30-year-old treaty with Israel.
The United States can do little to influence the Egyptian vote, nor should it. But once a new government begins to take shape, it must make clear what's at stake for Egypt. Relations with the United States, including the $1.5 billion in annual aid, should depend on Egypt upholding its peace treaty with Israel — which was the impetus for the aid in the first place.
As for Iran, the next round of talks with world powers — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — will be critical. Officials attending the talks must make it crystal clear that sanctions will not let up until Iran ends its uranium production.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the key negotiator in the talks with Iran, said this week, "My ambition is that we come away with the beginning of the end of the nuclear weapons program in Iran." Ashton, who rightly made a stop in Jerusalem to brief Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, must not give in to Iran's efforts to loosen the sanctions. Any diplomatic or face-saving compromises must be contingent on the world's ability to verify what Iran is doing on the nuclear front. Nothing less can justify the end of sanctions. The pressure must continue.