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MIDDLE EAST: Reactions to Obama's speech


Reaction in the Middle East to President Obama’s speech on U.S. policy toward the region ran the gamut from surprise to support to disappointment. Following are selected, edited comments from observers in some of the region's nations:

“It was not expected that Obama would criticize any of the U.S. allies, but he did so when he talked about Bahrain and called for a dialogue with the opposition while calling for the release of prisoners. Obama set a new approach toward the Middle East … opening a new chapter with the Arab world.”

                        — Hassan Sahili, student at the Lebanese University in Beirut

“Emotionally, President Obama’s rhetoric and eloquence appealed to the ears of his audience across the world. But Obama fell short of my expectations when he referred to Syrian and Bahrain authorities.

I expected him to be more serious and harsher in his criticisms of President Bashar Assad [of Syria] and Al Khalifah in Bahrain. Both these countries are run despotically and heavy handedly. Bahrain … is the U.S.A.’s ally, and Syria is not an ally of the U.S.

Both governments are fiercely and brutally suppressing their own people. I expected President Obama to … clearly put pressure on both governments to cave in to the demands of their own people.…

The U.S. in particular and the West in general are treating the regional countries with double standards, as the violation of human rights in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are ignored or neglected while the human rights breaches in Iran are highlighted.

Anyway, President Obama has got a historic, golden and unprecedented opportunity to seize  his place in history … if he addresses the democracy in all countries in the region” equally.

                    — Sadegh Zibakalam, professor of political science at Tehran University 

"This very reference to Iran is an indication of Iran’s undeniable upper hand in the region in the wake of the recent insurgencies in the Arab and Islamic countries. If my premise had been wrong, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain would not have tried so much to cut the cultural and spiritual influence of Iran in the Middle East.”

        —   Dr. Ahmad Bakhshayesh, political scientist in Tehran

"I think it’s [Obama’s] dream to change the world in a peaceful way. The Middle East is very complicated. America is heavily involved.

He’s clever and smart. He achieved what previous administrations never could. He’s moving toward fundamental change. He has all means to move forward in this direction.

It’s not easy to shift from the old politics to the new politics. The new method would represent the new ideals.

All these presidents — Mubarak, Ben Ali, Assad, Saleh — it was a scandal that people like that were allied to the United States. It is important to serve and protect not only your national interest, but your image."

        —    Mustafa el Labbad, head of Al Sharq Center for Political and Regional Studies in                Cairo


"Overall, [the speech] was good. I think from my point of view, the fact that  he repeated the slogans of the youth in Yemen, Tunisia, Syria and Egypt …  is important. He is repeating what the people were asking for.

However, I thought he was going to go a little further to say there is a serious division. He indirectly mentioned that the American focus on free trade and fighting terrorism was not enough. I hoped he would have said there were gaps in our approach, there were flaws to our approach. That’s what I was hoping to hear.

[His focus on Syria] a disappointing — he gave Bashar Assad  a choice: Either you lead the reform, or you leave. We know that [Assad] can’t lead reform. [Obama] didn’t use the same strong language that he used in reference to Mubarak. Even the reference to Saleh was stronger than the one with Assad.

He’s giving Bashar Assad room to maneuver, and giving him time."

            —    Dr. Mohammed el Masri, political analyst at the Center for Strategic Studies at Jordan University


"For a speech with unprecedented specificity, Obama’s rhetoric won't consistently be met with action. … Obama’s rhetoric only has teeth where America’s unchanged interests lie. [Even with insisting on] 1967 borders … a strong-willed speech from Obama without the will to twist a few Israeli arms along the way will do nothing to fix the Israeli-Palestinian question."

           —    Anthony Haddad, 25, student in Beirut


"For decades, we saw U.S. administrations turn a blind eye to the practices of dictators in the Middle East for the sake of stability and the sake of serving U.S. interests. Now we see a new U.S. policy.…

The U.S. administration has decided to side … with the people of the region and not with the dicatorships. If the U.S. is going to side with the long-term interests of the region, it has to be with the people trying to free themselves, attain their rights and regain their diginty. This will have an impact on the regimes in the region.

He said not everyone is going to like it [i.e. Saudi Arabia], but they must learn to live with it and adapt to it.…

I think that he said what he said about the Palestinian issue [because he knows] that this weighs very heavily on perceptions of U.S. policy. He said quite clearly that things cannot continue as they are. He said that, because Israel is a friend, whatever it does affects U.S. foreign policy that much more.”

                    —  Riad Kahwaji, military analyst and director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf                     Military Affairs, a think tank in Dubai and Beirut.


— Borzou Daragahi and Roula Hajjar in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran


Obama makes blunt push for Middle East peace

Mixed reactions in Egypt to speech

Obama hints at shift on Syria

NATO expects Kadafi regime to collapse eventually


Comments () | Archives (40)



Time to stand by our President Not some foriegn shyster who depends on Congressional handouts and Fox News and the right wing media to try to make US foriegn policy to suit himself.

Obama has done what no WHITE president has ever done, and is actually mediating, not favoring one side's position or the other's. Israel would do well to recognize that the world opinion is changing. Stop blah blah blahing about the destruction of Israel when you're not even trying for peace. Netanyahu, guess what.. the US is not stupid. We see your stall tactics and I'm ticked off my taxpayer money has been going to Israel. Remind me again why Israel is a friend? Guess what, all the reasons why we are friends goes away with the wave of the Arab Spring. You think my generation and younger generations wants to hear about the Middle East conflict year after year after year. No way. I'm sick of it. Sit down and negotiate without conditions for real this time. Better yet, televise it so we can actually see if Israel's idea of negotiating is to say no repeatedly.

I am very concerned about Pres Obama's recent speech as it concerns the State of Israel, our ally.

Allow me to first state that I am not an Israeli nor an American Jew - I am a native-born American (as were my parents of Polish and Hungarian heritage) who believes that Israel has the rights that other countries enjoy.

For an American president to ask for/demand that Israel return the land it gained after being attacked by another Country, and return to its 1967 borders, is beyond belief! Israel was ATTACKED - and more than once as you know if you follow history at all.

Does Pres Obama also believe that the United States should return this Country to our NATIVE AMERICANS??? Americans who, in many, many instances, are still religated to specific and limited areas in this Country.

This President has yet to embrace the culture of OUR country. It will be interesting to see what treatment he shows to the Israel President. He is so very intent on being "pals" with the far-Left in this country - and around the world. He seems intent to send this Country to the level of a Third World country...

Mr President, with all due respect, try concentrating on restoring THIS Country to what it was BEFORE you took office! We had problems, of course, but they were nothing compared to what you have laid on us in your short time as president. The only international issues you've addressed with any vigor are those that strengthen our enemies and cripple this Country.

I have not always agreed with any president but this is the first time that I am very hard pressed to agree with your actions and attitudes at all.

I pray for you, Mr President, that you will soon face the harm you are doing to OUR country.... I pray even harder that your stay in the White House will come to an END>

Pres. Obama says:  We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. That father said, "I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict." We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. "I have the right to feel angry," he said. "So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate. Let us hope," he said, "for tomorrow."

This is really a disgusting pairing: the father of a boy intentionally killed by terrorists, on the one hand, and the father of kids inadvertently killed during an attempt to attack those very same terrorists.  In any event, the reference to "Israeli shells" is unnecessary and it is gratuitously inflammatory.

Obama's CHANGE has taken away our HOPE!!!

The Obama Administration has been and continues to be a disaster in every area. This administration resembles the Jimmy Carter experience more and more every day. Like Jimmy Carter, Obama cannot do anything right.

Obama plans to spend $1 billion to get elected for a second term. If he was doing a good job would he need to spend even close to that amount? If that does not clearly indicate something is very wrong with our government, I don't know what does.

Until we get him out of office, Obama will:

* Spend $1 billion in an attempt buy back a job he has failed miserably at.

* Attempt a huge tax increase on the people who create jobs and economic growth so they will send even more money out of the country.

* Continue to take money from the people who get educated and work to achieve and give it to people who would rather live off the system than to be productive members of the economy

* Regulate and tax business so that cannot possibly compete on the world market.

What people need to know is we are destroying our economy with massive public debt, the huge amount and complexity of government regulation combined with the huge amount, number, and complexity of taxes.

Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the rest of the Democrats believe in big government and intrusive regulation. They believe in taking from the people who work hard and get educated to achieve and give it to the people who do not try to better themselves.

We must continue to VOTE THEM OUT!!!


I wonder if Mexico would be allowed to manufacture their own border and move into Texas without a fight.............But Israel thinks it's ok to steal from their neighbors.......well when you have neighbors like that (Israel).......that don't obey the law ......... deal with them (Israel) as any other criminals.......Israel seems really greedy in the fact that they are going against international law to steal land.........Any problems that Israel faces due to this action is there own fault and yes the ppl of Israel should really be afraid of their gov't.......Ppl in their gov't don't want peace........Might as well be Crips n' Bloods.

Hahaha "chosen" to do what exactly?

I have nothing to say good about Obama's speech on Israel. In fact if I was Netanyahu, I wouldn't even come to the U.S. this week. For what???
To trade Israel in for bunch offf terrorist Arabs/Palestians. Israel will have Hamas, Egypt, Syria and most of all Iran whether they get peace agreement or not with Palestine. Much more to come against Israel and then the U.S.
Israel needs to stand steadfast and courageous in their beliefs, which is something OBAMA cannot do. Obama is doing all he can for the Arabs and the Muslims and giving them Americans money that we badly need. He lies, and makes a fool of himself. Americans do not believe NOR support him.
Many of us Americans are supportive of Israel andd their courage/guts.
Palestians have no intention of stopping all harm against Israel if they get what they want, they will continue until they can wipe out Israel, then US.

Wow, for O to be taking snipes from all sides means he just about got it right. Congratulations O, 4 more years!

I would just like to know who gave him the right to speak for me and so many others who do not agree with this? Who voted for this? Not me! And for so many of the other things our president has so brillantly done... Not! He forgives debt of Egypt and we are broke. Our country is struggling to stay afloat but for sum reason there is always someone elses fight to fight first. This is who we have to represent us.... A man who obvouisly only represents himself! And we have no choice but to ride his ride alittle longer. Hopefully it wont be to late. And people who voted based on color to change History and not solely on Merit will realize that Their once a dream is now everyones Nightmare!!!

This president needs to be primaried.

His world view is horrible.

I also find it interesting that all the opinions are from the Islamic perspective, Iran and Arab nations.

It seems the President presented mostly platitudes about America is against tyranny and for human rights. The only substantive suggestion seems to be his suggestions regarding Israel's negotiating position.

Why no reactions from that side? Could it be they had nothing good to say about Dear Leader?

Thanks Obama for tossing Israel to the sharks. You lost this Jews vote.

Note to Liberal Jews- this president is no friend to you, or Israel

this is pure propaganda and does not represent the gamut of opinons, clearly leaving out the ones that are too critical. Most people in the Middle East share one thing in common however. They want americans and their NATO stooges to kindly go away and stop committing crimes on Middle Eastern populations and creating terrorism there.

Obama's speech was just a speech.

republicans will hate it.
democrats will love it.
independents will be on the fence.

normal people didn't watch.

Obama is such an idiot - The Palestinian state was so war-like that they were sending in suicide bombers and rockets to blow up civilian targets in Israel like shopping centers and open-air markets - And they still do it. That is why Israel put up the supply blockade.

How would WE react if Mexico started sending suicide bombers and rockets to blow up shopping malls in Texas, Arizona, and California? We'd blow that country off the map or invade them like Israel invaded Palestine. .

I don't know why Israel hasn't just wiped them out, or drove them into Syria or some other God-forsaken place. I certainly would have, and they may have to do that yet, especially if Obama allows the Palestinians to re-arm themselves.

Obama was in diapers when all this started, so he doesn't know first hand the fear that Israel went through. I think all he reads is his own press releases. It wouldn't hurt him to read a history book that isn't written by Marxists and Mid-East Fascists and defendors of Terrorism .

I have to go along with Donna Orth's comment, that the President needs to focus on America's problems. It is always easier to say or suggest that other people clean up their "yard"; what about are yard America. If Obama were living years back, he would claim that he could settle the fight between the Hatfields and the McCoys! He is killing time and trying to look good before the 2012 election.

I couldn't for the life of me understand why the majority of jews voted for this obvious pro-Arab for president last election and now if these same idiots vote for "Hussein" in 2012 then I'll know Israel is a gonner. Besides his socialist ways, O'Bummer will always side with his muslim brothers in this conflict so the jews better wise-up before it's too late.

Obama comes across as "all talk and no action". We Palestinians want to live in peace and prosperity and we expect Obama to put real pressure on Israel to get out!

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