News / Middle East

Arab World Awaits Obama's Mideast Trip

Disappointed Arab World Awaits Obama's Mideast Tripi
X
March 13, 2013 8:29 PM
President Obama's visit to the Middle East next week is being greeted with far less enthusiasm than four years ago, when hopes were high for a new era in U.S. - Arab relations. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo.
Elizabeth Arrott
President Obama's visit to the Middle East next week is being greeted with far less enthusiasm than four years ago, when hopes were high for a new era in U.S. - Arab relations.

When the U.S. president visited Cairo in 2009, he was hailed as a son of Africa, a man whose middle name "Hussein" hinted at a fundamental shift in America's relations with the Islamic and Arab world.  He even spoke an Arabic phrase during his address at Cairo University. "As salamu alaikum," he said.

In the audience that day was former intelligence officer General Sameh Saif al Yazal.  He remembers thinking "We got a good one," and change was imminent. Fast forward four years:  "The expectations were very high, but when you see it physically, it was much less than that expectation," he stated.

Among the disappointments was what many in the region saw as Obama's slow response to the "Arab Spring" uprisings against long-time U.S. allies, as in Egypt, and not enough help - especially economic - in the aftermath. One Cairo resident argued it is important for American and Europe to help now because “they helped the dictatorships.”

Al Yazal says the perception that the U.S. continues to side with the interests of governments rather than the people has not gone away. "The feeling now that the Americans are working for the Egyptian administration and the other administrations without looking at the street people - what they want," he added.

Close collaboration with Yemen's government, for example, allows the U.S. to carry out drone strikes on suspected terrorists.  But civilian casualties from strikes gone wrong have deeply alienated many ordinary Yemenis.

Yet for the most part, Obama has earned praise for scaling back America's military role in the region.  Outside observers, like professor Christian Donath of the American University in Cairo, welcome the U.S. limits.

"The Obama administration has done a relatively good job in being very careful in its approach to Syria given that there are a number of competing interests in Syria.  And I think for now one of the most important things we can do is focus on the humanitarian crisis," Donath explained.

Donath believes concern for humanitarian issues and economic outreach directly to the people could do much to improve America's standing.  But he notes that one thing colors almost everything the U.S. does in the Arab world - America's close ties with Israel, which will be the focus of Obama's trip this time.

"Fundamentally this will be quite difficult for the U.S. to improve our relationship with the people, which seems what we are trying to do," added Donath. "Without somehow addressing the Israel issue and we're not. We haven't been doing that."

Even if Obama can help revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians during his trip, few expect the regional dynamic to change any time soon.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 15, 2013 11:42 AM
I hope Pres. Obama, during the visit, highlights the plight of women, and the need to emancipate women; the record in some countries, on women is a disgrace; no if and buts they are the last personal slaves on the planet. For humanity to progress this needs to be changed, women need to be emancipated. No more aid, unless women are emancipated; their rights and their persons are absolutely protected.


by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
March 13, 2013 5:01 PM
There is So much that can (and needs) to be done to improve relations between America and the Arab world. The Way will be scriptural rather than military or economic. Seek first the will of heaven and all things will be added. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid