What Obama should do in the Middle East?

31 05 2009

President Obama is visiting the Middle East region for the first time after taking the oath. The visit, that start from Wednesday, is really a high high-profile one. As Saudi Arabia is the first stop for Obama, he will get to know the Saudi monarchial mentality from a very close angle. Similarly, his visit to Egypt is paramount to opening a new dialogue with the Muslim world.

There has been a lot of specualtion about the details of his visit. He will definitely engage with Muslim youth in Egypt. Now what message will he bring to young Muslims is still unknown.

Obama enjoys a great approval rating in the Muslim world. His Islamic background is the major reason for this popularity. The recent measures, including the possible closure of Guantanamo, is seen as a positive development in the region.

There is however a major segment of Muslim youth that hates America. They are not eager to even listen to what Obama will say. And these young Muslims constitute the majority of Muslim youth. Obama has to devise some strategy to address the needs of this segment.

While US can’t reprimand Israel nor it should be doing that but it should also not alienate the ordinary Muslims. The west bank settlements issue is currently a major one in the Middle East. Obama has already condemned the expansion. If he gives a more clear message during his visit, then it will be taken positively by both sides.

Arab youth is now tired of the largely autocratic regimes. Even basic human rights are denied in most of these states. The better way of dealing with this issue is to indulge in dialogue with young Muslims. US should do this immediately as time is running out fast. Al-Qaeda and other extremist organizations are ready to recruit new blood from this region. US can counter this by empowering the common youth.

The situation will be clear next week when Obama will have delivered the peace message he is bringing to the region. Let’s see what the message actually is.

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