Middle East Indifferent About US Presidential Election

U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have traded sharp barbs about their approaches to foreign policy, in particular dealings with the Middle East.  But many in the region see little prospect of change whoever wins.

People across the Middle East have been roiled by political change for nearly two years,  So it's perhaps not surprising the U.S. presidential election is failing to garner much interest.

Few are expressing a preference for either President Barack Obama or challenger Mitt Romney, even as both make the Middle East a key foreign policy issue.   

Romney sees a region in chaos.  

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama answer a question during the third presidential debate focused mostly on the Middle East, October 22Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama answer a question during the third presidential debate focused mostly on the Middle East, October 22
x
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama answer a question during the third presidential debate focused mostly on the Middle East, October 22
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama answer a question during the third presidential debate focused mostly on the Middle East, October 22
“We're talking about the Middle East and how to help the Middle East reject the kind of terrorism we're seeing and the rising tide of tumult and confusion,” he said.

For some in the Arab world, any talk of “help” from any U.S. politician comes across as arrogant.

“It's as if it's a teacher holding a stick to the student - as if Arabs are students in a classroom in front of him.  This is all I see from America,” said Ayman Kamal, a store clerk in Cairo.

Others fear continued U.S. military interference in the region, despite calls for caution from President Obama.

“For us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step," Obama noted.

“We don't want to have military involvement there," Romney said. "We don't want to get drawn into a military conflict.”

Author and political scientist Hassan Nafaa says it doesn't matter who wins.

“Because it doesn't make any difference whether we have Obama or Romney. But the intellectuals, certainly, would prefer Obama," he opined, "rather than Romney because he will be more careful in using force to achieve the U.S. goals and interests.”

Obama raised high hopes in 2009, promising a fresh start for the U.S. in the Middle East during a speech in Cairo.   But disappointment followed, as did the Arab Spring.  Agathon Shehata is a Coptic priest

“Obama's policies were not what we much expected. I can't say more, just we didn't expect them to be like that,” the priest said.

For Hassan Nafaa, the biggest disappointment was no change in U.S. policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“Everybody knows the United States, whoever is governing this big important international actor, will be very much supportive to Israel," he said. "So, as long as the U.S. president doesn't change the current American policy in the Middle East, we will see the United States as playing a negative role in this part of the world and nothing will be changed.

Both candidates have pledged full backing of America's long-time ally and that continued support is a perennial rallying cry for anti-Americanism in the region.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs