Obama off to a good start on the Mid East

Understandably, the Arab street has been doubtful of the American policy in the Middle East. It is understandable because the American foreign policy in the past eight years has disengaged the moderate majority of the Arab streets, that is to say the least. America’s foreign policy in the Middle East in the past eight years was highlighted by a long unjustifiable war in Iraq, frequent escalation in rhetoric with Syria and Iran, complete siding with Israel without exerting any pressure or influence to promote a peaceful solution, and the complete disregard of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process to the very last year with a futile last-minute attempt.

The new American president Obama had campaigned with a message of hope and change. He had promised to change the foreign policy tone coming out of Washington to that of promoting dialog, peace, and mutual respect. Like many around the world, Arabs were hopeful in this new president but were still doubtful that that was all campaign rhetoric that will soon be forgotten. After all, George W. Bush had also campaigned under the banner of change!

Barack Obama, however, is off to a good start. He has extended a peaceful message to the Muslim world in his inauguration speech as I blogged previously. He also called Israeli and Palestinian leaders on his first couple of days to gesture that he will not leave the peace process to the last days of his presidency as some of his predecessors have done. His pick for Middle East envoy has a proven record of brokering peace between the Irish and the British, and many are hailing him as a good and balanced pick to hopefully broker a meaningful peace for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Most recently, in his first public TV interview after the inauguration, Obama appeared on the Arabic news channel Al-Arabiya where he seemed to reach out to the moderates in the Arab and Muslim world with a message of mutual respect and open dialog.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised! I too was initially doubtful that Obama would be any different when it came to the Middle East than his predecessors. But so far he has proved me wrong, he seems to be working well on it and I hope he continues. So long are the days of George Bush’s “spreading democracy through invading countries”.

I just hope that Obama’s efforts to change the tone of America in the Middle East continues, and I hope that he will make some serious effort to exercise his influence to broker a real and sustainable peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

So Mr. Obama, so far you seem to be working on these foreign policy issues harder and more sincerely than your predecessors. Thank you for that. I hope you continue to do so, and I wish you the best of luck.

Note: It goes without saying of course that it will not all be solved with the external interference of the United States. We Arabs have to work on solving our own problems and building our own communities. I believe that many people agree on this, and I hope it was implied from my previous posts.

  1. Hi,
    thanks for the post, actually, I wanted to add “what is our role as Arabs in the region?” but then I read the last note :”…we Arabs have to work on solving our own problems…” I can’t agree more, and I hope this man “President Obama” will try to change…

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