Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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EGYPT: Obama and the Middle East

November 16, 2008 | 10:20 am

Obama_4_2 Despising America has long been a Middle East pastime, but then the country that brought war to Iraq and orange-suited prisoners to Guantanamo Bay elected a Facebook-friendly president who speaks in poems.

What’s a mullah to do?

With the speed of a Twitter missive, the cultural game has shifted. Barack Obama’s rise to the White House comes when the Arabs are intensely suspicious of U.S. intentions, and when Islam, through satellite TV and the Internet, is inundated with Western culture.

Eight years of President Bush gave conservative Muslims a buttress against America. But Obama, who plays as well in Hollywood as he does in the villages of Kenya, is changing Washington’s image from a cowboy with snarling sound bites to a conciliator with star appeal.

Check out the rest of the story in today's Los Angeles Times.

— Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

Photo: President-elect Obama. Credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images