Saturday, June 6, 2009

Middle East press reactions to Obama's Cairo speech

The following is a round-up of the Middle East's press reactions to Obama's long-awaited speech in Cairo addressing the Islamic world. The President clearly hit the right buttons.

Daily Star (Lebanon):

To measure the impact of such an innovative address, one even needs innovative tools, as well as time to digest it before completing the full evaluation. But we should remember the Cairo speech wasn't a show - it was an exercise in power politics of the first order. The credit here probably belongs to Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's chief of staff. Without Emmanuel, whose pro-Israeli sympathies can't be questioned, Obama wouldn't be taking on the pro-Israel lobby, whether on Palestine or Iran. Emmanuel has laid down a bruising challenge: come up with a better plan on these issues, or shut up.

Jordan Times (Jordan):

Those were indeed soothing words coming eloquently from the mouth of US President Barack Obama in Cairo on Thursday. And of course they were comforting because they come after eight years of George W. Bush who launched his crusade on “terror” - which many interpreted as a war on Islam - in the process invading two Muslim nations.

Saudi Gazette (Saudi Arabia):

Obama is not going to fix everything and probably not even most things in the Middle East. But he set the tone that rhetoric and slavish loyalty to one country at the expense of the rest of the region is not the answer to peace. His speech put Israel and Arab leaders on notice that it is no longer business as usual.

The National (UAE):

The US president may fail to achieve his designs for regional peace and security; it is a long way from a podium in Cairo to Palestinian statehood. And if rhetoric and a well-delivered speech could solve the complex problems plaguing the region, he would have done it already. Unfortunately it will be policy shifts, many of them painful, which will bring about an end to regional conflict. But he has made the first step; it remains to be seen how the Muslim world will answer.

Hurriyet (Turkey):

So long as Obama is the speaker and the text is good and he is a good orator, the speech had no chance but to be a good one. Was it historic? We will see in the future. But without a doubt, so long as Obama was delivering a speech concentrated on "U.S.-Islam", it was a significant address.

Haaretz (Israel):

For Israel, Obama's "Cairo speech" marks nothing less than a strategic revolution. During the Bush era, Israel was America's friendliest partner in the war on terror, and enjoyed military freedom of operation against the Palestinians, Hezbollah and Syria, for which it in return withdrew from the Gaza settlements. With Obama, Israel has to undergo a re-education, and will have to once again pass a test of its dedication to U.S. interests in the Middle East.

Asharq Alawsat (International):

The speech by Obama should have been given to us long ago by an Arab or Islamic leader, not an American one, as we are the victims of poverty, extremism, division and violence, in all its forms and under various pretexts. The Arab and Islamic public should have heard what they heard from Obama in all its clarity and openness a long time ago, with regards to the peace [process], the fight against extremism, the right to education and dignity, women's rights, the issue of minorities, democracy, and other issues.

Arab Times (Kuwait):

We should welcome the man who delivered a historic speech at our homes. Our greetings to you Aba Hussein! As expected, he approached us with a well-phrased speech. He clearly expressed his ideas and stands on various regional and international issues. We thought his visit was aimed at fulfilling the promises he made before his election to the White House. We are now aware that there’s more to the man than meets the eye. With full transparency, he discussed his policy on establishing new and strong relations between his country and others. We thought he would never utter some Arabic words to negate allegations on his lineage, particularly his African origins and Muslim father. Surprisingly, he was proud of his origins and he uttered some Arabic words clearly!

No comments: