Obama’s speech fell short of expectations

4 06 2009

President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama finally delivered his keynote address to the Muslims. Speaking at Cairo University, Obama emphasized the need for a a new ‘beginning’ between the U.S and the Muslim world. He also spoke on the simmering issue of Israel/Palestine conflict. The rising militancy and democracy made other important parts of his speech.

While the speech overall was quite encouraging but he fell short of the expectations both the Muslims as well as the liberal western observers had from him. Following is a breakdown of the key points of his speech and our opinion on that.

Israel/Palestine conflict

Obama did made some very good points in his speech. He mentioned the fact that in private meetings, both the parties agree that their hard-line stances will not do any good. However, in public, they are not ready to change their position. The Israeli expansion plan is also a threat to the peace in the region, he said.

We asked the opinion of a Palestinian and an Israeli over his speech. Both of these people are liberal-minded and open enough to accept the facts. Our Israeli friend opined that Obama could have send a more clear message to Israeli authorities that any new offensive or expansion plans would not be tolerated by the U.S.  He said that common Israelis are now fed up with the extremist policies of its government and want to live in peace with the Palestinians.

Hamas and Al-Fatah have destroyed the lives of the Palestinians, our Palestinian friend said.  He doesn’t think that Obama was really serious when he mentioned the Palestinian issue. According to him, U.S can play a more important role if it can  bring to peace the fighting between Palestinian groups. Additionally, the U.S should convince the Israelis to give up their inhumane standing on the issue. Right now, the U.S is just playing with the words, he added.

Militancy

Again, Obama made a strong point that the U.S cannot tolerate the rising trends of militancy in the region. Terrorism is indeed the biggest threat to the Muslim world. Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are ready to strike western interests in the region in beyond. Here we agree with the president that this issue needs a very strong response.

Democracy

This was probably the weakest part of his speech. He made his speech in a country where there is no democracy. A dictator is ruling the country with an iron hand for the last 28 years. Obama mingled well with Hosni Mubarak and both shared many happy moments.

He could have chosen a more open country like Turkey that is more liberal and also has better democratic standing. Aside from his choice for the location, he also didn’t elaborate how he will help these countries to come to terms with democratic procedures. Egyptian students present in the auditorium cheered for a long time when he mentioned the importance of democracy. However, the excitement died down when he didn’t mention any practical plans to help these youngsters in bringing democracy to the region.

Iran

Since his inauguration, Obama is offering an olive branch to Iranian government. They, however, are not eager to listen to his sensible approach. Obama is going out of his away to appease the Iranians. This approach is hurting the U.S credibility in the region. Additionally, Muslims in the Middle East are not happy with this courtship of Iran and nor does Israel.

It is time to get tough with Iran. If Ahmedinijad gets elected again then the U.S government should embark on a hard-line strategy to tackle with the Iranaian threat.

Actions speak louder than words. Whatever maybe the shortcomings in his speech, we will wait and see the actual implementation of his Middle East policy. It will indeed be a long and daunting exercise.

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