Tag Archives: Obama

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.

Best line of Obama’s inauguration speech

I found this to be one of the best lines of Obama’s inauguration speech. I found it very applicable to our situation in the Arab world.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

It seems that we often forget that our shortcomings are of our own doing. We all have an obligation to build our own countries and enhance our lives and the lives of all their citizens. Instead of blaming all our downfalls on others, we have to take building a bright future for ourselves into our own hands. Instead of giving up, we have to take it upon ourselves to create opportunities in our homelands were they are missing.

Other than that, i really liked the gesture shown by Obama by directly mentioning the Muslim world and how there are common interests between the Muslim world and America, and how that both can work at them in a civilized and peaceful way. Hopefully his administration will be much better than its predecessor in dealing with the Middle East and the Arab & Muslim worlds in general.

[full transcripts of Obama’s inaugural speech here]

Clinton to Secretary of State and the Prospects of Middle East Peace

By now it is semi-confirmed that Hillary Clinton will be appointed to the Secretary of State position in the upcoming Obama administration in the USA. The secretary of state (foreign minister) is the face of the USA’s foreign policy and helps shape major international events. We can all recall Colin Powell in front of the UN with a white tube trying to make the case for the Iraqi war, and Condoleezza Rice’s trips to the Middle East in the Bush administrations’ final (almost weak) efforts to push for some progress in the Arab-Israeli conflict. For this reason i have been anxiously anticipating the appointment of secretary of state for the upcoming administration to see if there is any hope of pushing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward.

I am uncomfortable with the picking Clinton for this position. She does not strike me as a moderate or neutral democrate on the issues regarding the Middle East. She is a staunch supporter of Israel, and did not advocate for a diplomatic resolution ot the Iranian situation during her presidential bid. Although it was almost unrealistic to expect a secretary of state (or even an administration) that is nuetral regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, i was hoping that the next secretary of state would be less “in the bag” for Israel.

Yes yes yes, it was very clear during the campaign that whatever the outcome of this past election, the US’s position will not be anything less of “we are 110% with Israel”. But i was still hoping that this new administration will at least be more peaceful and really try to work harder to push the peace process forward.

I still say we should not judge the book by its cover. Let’s wait and see what this new administration does. I still hope things will be different in the upcoming 4 years.