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Posts Tagged ‘Al Arabiya’

Already losing steam in the Arab world?

February 10, 2009 Leave a comment

In Sunday’s New York Times, Egyptian novelist Alaa al Aswany writes that by failing to speak up on the situation in Gaza is causing attrition to President Obama’s political capital in the Middle East.

While the Western media–and perhaps this venue included–were labeling Obama’s bold intiative in reaching out to Arabs and Muslims by speaking with Al Arabiya, Aswany says the reaction in Cairo was… well, muted at best:

But while most of my Egyptian friends knew about the interview, by then they were so frustrated by Mr. Obama’s silence that they weren’t particularly interested in watching it. I didn’t see it myself, but I went back and read the transcript. Again, his elegant words did not challenge America’s support of Israel, right or wrong, or its alliances with Arab dictators in the interest of pragmatism.

Read more…

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NYT’s Cohen: Arabiya interview signals end of War on Terror

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Roving New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, reporting from Tehran, makes the bold statement that President Obama’s interview with Al Arabiya signals a shift from the ideological War on Terror to a strategic struggle against terrorist groups.

What’s left is what matters: defeating terrorist organizations. That’s not a war. It’s a strategic challenge.

The new president’s abandonment of post-9/11 Bush doctrine is a critical breakthrough. It resolves nothing but opens the way for a rapprochement with a Muslim world long cast into the “against-us” camp. Nothing good in Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan or Iran could happen with that Manichean chasm.

Sounds a bit too aggressive to me, but maybe he’ll be proven right. Also not buying: Iran.

Still, words do not alter the fact that the post-Gaza challenge facing Obama is immense. Here in Iran, where anti-American rhetoric is too significant a pillar of the 30-year-old Islamic Revolution to be lightly sacrificed, the response to the president’s interview was cool. It came as the government, citing the Israeli assault on Gaza, approved a bill to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes anywhere in the world.

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said change under Obama was good but would only be credible if America apologized to Iran for its role in the 1953 coup, among other things. The hard-line daily Kayhan said: “Obama follows Bush’s footsteps.”

—David Graham, Trinity ’09 and editor

Obama in Al Arabiya interview: ‘Americans are not your enemy’

January 27, 2009 1 comment

Following closely on his promise, delivered in the inaugural address, to “seek a new way forward” with the Muslim world, President Obama gave his first foreign interview and first interview from the White House to Al Arabiya television. It was broadcast Monday night.

Obama’s interview has caused the spilling of barrels of ink and pixels already–as much for the fact that he gave it to the Dubai-based, Saudi-owned channel as for what he said in it.

Let’s recap some of the highlights from the speech. The president began with a conciliatory tone:

And so what I told [special envoy George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues –and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen. He’s going to be speaking to all the major parties involved. And he will then report back to me. From there we will formulate a specific response.

He reiterated his prior line on Iran: he attacked Iranian conduct, but still stressed the need to speak directly to Iran (he also delivered the now-requisite preface about the greatness of the Iranian people and the Persian civilization; I find this habit of irrelevant recourse to ancient history annoying, distracting and Orientalist). Read more…