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Middle East: Bloggers React to Obama's Address

From being described as the “self-appointed world leader” to questioning his choice of speech venue to choosing to turn a deaf ear to his speech, blogs across the Middle East are reacting to US President Barack Obama's policy speech on the Middle East just delivered in Cairo, Egypt.

After listening to the speech, Stiletos in the Sand, an American based in Saudi Arabia, writes:

54 minutes and 22 seconds .. of my life I can never get back. Speech in Cairo by the jeja is here in four separate parts. Really no reason for any other leaders of the world to continue ruling their own little domains. The jeja seems to have it all under control and will be the first, self-appointed, world leader from hereon out. Oh, sure. He says everything he has aspirations for, that he thinks can be achieved in the world, will need to be done “together.” Don't believe him for one single skinny second. If his lips are moving, he is lying. Hoo Boy.

Syrian Khaldoun Jarbou too wasn't impressed but writes:

I don’t see any thing new in Obama’s speech, more than that, anyone who kept up with his campaign he/she will notes that this speech is a collection of what he had said before in his way to the White House, but how ever I have liked his choosing of some words. I mean in that Violence and Extremist instead of Terrorism and Terrorist.

Bahraini Mahmood Al Yousif wonders out aloud on the speech venue:

I keep asking myself why did Obama choose the most repressive regimes in the Middle East to honour not only with his presence, but also to use as a launchpad for his Utopian vision of a peaceful and democratic Middle East? A vision that will continue to remain as illusive as a desert mirage for us Middle Eastners.

Then I try to select an alternate of the 22 Arab countries where he could have used instead, but I fail to find a single one which could be worthy of such an occasion.

On the speech itself, Al Yousif adds:

Regardless, he touched the perennial issues; Palestine through to women’s rights, freedom of expression to democratic governments and of course the rejection of terrorism and freedom of belief. Points which generally have been raised by every single American president – and world leader for that matter – albeit without such eloquence and empathy – but so far without any concrete steps to see through their resolutions. Somehow a “shared interest” creeps in and all those promises get shelved or forgotten to be revived upon a new ascension to a throne.

Writing at Mideast Youth, fellow Bahraini Esra'a explains why she did not tune into the speech:

As an Arab and a Muslim, there was nothing much I can benefit from what Obama has to say. I’m so tired of these tedious speeches and words and praises and promises that no one, including the target audience, ever lives up to. Despite not watching this speech due to lack of interest, I sat down on Twitter and was franly disgusted at the hype, the way people were mindlessly cheering his words on, as if they don’t understand the sources of our issues to begin with. Suddenly Obama was here to “fix things,” while reducing our problems to the size of a footnote.

I support Obama, at least in comparison to his war-mongering colleagues. But we don’t need his leadership, or anyone else’s for that matter.

In Israel, writing at South Jerusalem Gresghom Gorenberg notes how the speech has changed history:

Barack Obama likes to change what history means, and that’s a very good thing.

Today, for instance, marks 42 years since the Six-Day War began. Ever since then, the term “June 4 lines” has referred to the on-the-ground border between Israel and its Arab neighbors on the eve of the war – not the lines marked on maps, but the lines marked by forward military positions. On the Syrian front, for instance, the actual positions lined up with neither the pre-1948 international border between Palestine and Syria, nor with the 1949 armistice agreements. The small distances on the ground make for big problems in peace negotiations.

As of yesterday, however, June 4 means something entirely different. It now refers to the day on which Barack Obama chose to speak in Cairo. “June 4 lines” henceforth mean the line of thinking that the president laid out for reconciliation between the U.S. and the Muslim world, and along the way, between Israel and the Palestinians.

On the speech, Gorenberg writes:

His message to us was very, very basic Obama: First, I acknowledge your history. Second, it’s time each of you recognize the other’s side history, that you stop thinking that somehow by admitting the other’s side suffering you’ll erase your own. And now that you’ve acknowledged history, stop holding on to it as if electricity were running through it, as if your hand can’t let go. Move forward. Turn history into history – the text explaining how we got here – and stop treating it as an ever-repeating present.

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  • Were there any positive reactions at all?

  • Gerry

    The only blogger with something intelligent to say is Gorenbergs from South Jerusalem. From my point of view, Obama made history in his frank assessment of history and his tough calls to all sides to take concrete steps towards peace and stability in the region.

  • dlw

    Given the scope, seriousness and tractability of the problems, not a bad set of responses….

    dlw

  • Ted

    It’s hard to understand why Sabra, an American ex-pat living in Saudi Arabia, was chosen as a \Middle East blogger\ to respond to Obama’s speech. Would rather read a Saudi voice, thank you.

    • Thank you for your observation Ted. We don’t manufacture blog responses but report on what is already written and available and I am afraid those were among the handful of reactions I had access to at the time of writing this article.

      If you are a blogger, with the time and energy, as well as knowledge of the Saudi blogosphere, and preferably with a working knowledge of the Arabic language, please write to me as I am looking for Saudi or Saudi-based bloggers to cover Saudi Arabia for Global Voices Online.

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  • Anita

    It seems that all of our Presidents in my entire life have been slaves to one group or another…it sickens me that we have not had one honest one in that 58 year time period. I was pleasantly surprised that Obama made a tiny step toward supporting the Palestinians. I think that after December 2008 to January 2009, Operation Cast Lead, he was forced to do so to preserve any sort of image in the world of fairness. I doubt, too, as most of the bloggers here, that anything will come of his tiny step. The forces of evil control us!

  • i didnt have much to say about it.. it was very obama – nothing more nothing less..
    http://emspeace.blogspot.com/2009/06/obamatterfly-effect.html

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