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Much Of Arab World Rejoices Over Obama Election


Much of the Arab press, as well as ordinary people in the street, are rejoicing over the election of Democrat Barak Obama as the next president of the United States. Nevertheless, as Edward Yeranian reports from Cairo, there are misgivings in certain quarters.

People on the streets here in Cairo, and across much of the Arab world, appear elated by the election of Democrat Barak Obama as the next president of the United States, despite some apprehension in the Gulf and in Lebanon.

Commentators on Al-Jazeera TV, which has consistently criticized the outgoing Bush administration for its policies towards the Arab world, appeared almost jubilant over Mr. Obama's election, with many hailing the results of the election as a "positive for the Arab world."

The Syrian daily Techrine writes in Wednesday's editorial that "any president will be better than George W. Bush, and any administration will be better than his administration." Damascus is the subject of U.S. sanctions for its behavior towards both Lebanon and Iraq.

Egyptian Ahmed Fathi, from the city of Dakalia, writes on Al-Arabiya TV's Web site "God bless Obama. He's good for the world and will solve its problems, Inshallah."

Leyla, a Lebanese Christian, however, says that she and those around her are "not very enthusiastic about Mr. Obama's victory," but that she hopes "he'll turn out OK, just the same."

Mustapha Ghalayini, a Lebanese man who works in Kuwait, thinks that many Kuwait's are pleased by Mr. Obama's election, even if they don't think he'll be especially good for the interests of the Arab world.

"The Kuwaiti people don't believe that Obama will be a real help to the Arabs, but they believe he will be a new experience for the Arabs and the world, and they are happy at his winning the elections of the United States," he said.

Uraib Rantawi, director of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies in Amman, Jordan, says that many Arabs and many Arab governments are pleased by the Obama victory, but not all.

"It was a great win for Mr. Obama in yesterday's elections, for some Arab countries and people, especially the Palestinians, the Syrians, even the Jordanians," he said. "I think they have welcomed this great victory from the democrats and Obama."

"But, for some Arab Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia and those who deal really with the Bush family and with the Republicans in particular, I think it is not a good moment for them; they prefer to deal with the Republicans and not with the democrats, since the democrats emphasize democracy and human rights and those issues are not welcomed in such countries as Egypt, and Saudi Arabia," he added.

Essam El Aryan, who is a leader of Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood was mostly optimistic about Mr. Obama's election and thought it was good for both the Arab and Islamic worlds.

"I've listened to the address made by Obama this morning and I was highly impressed by his charisma and his ideas," he said. "I compliment Mr. Obama and this was a very big victory for himself and also for the American people and I think it will be a great victory for the whole world if he can change America and go to change the world."

"I think after the massacres done by the previous administration of Mr. Bush Jr., I think this will be a new era for the Arabs and the Muslim world for their relations with the USA. We hope that Mr. Obama can change the strategy of America towards the Arabs and the Islamic world, and mainly to be committed to his promise to withdraw from Iraq and to look to the Palestinian issue by another view … thirdly to stop the support for the previous administration, since more than 60 years, to the tyrants of the Arab and Islamic world and to stop support to dictatorship," he continued.

Despite the general tone of optimism in the Arab press over President-elect Barak Obama's victory, the Arab daily Al-Hayat ran a caricature showing an Israeli wielding a gun at an Arab man, joking "heads, Obama, and we win; tails McCain, and you lose," suggesting that the paper thinks neither candidate will really be beneficial to the Arab world.

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