Reactions: Obama’s ‘Arab Spring address’

Reactions to Obama’s speech outlining his vision for the Middle East and North Africa.

Obama-Mideast speech
President Obama touched upon a whole range of issues, from Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Syria and Iran [Reuters]

Reactions to Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East and North Africa:

Robert Fisk – Renowned Journalist

It was the same old story… Israel cannot be deligitimised… No peace can be imposed on either party… It sounded like his pro-israeli speach to AIPAC.

It was a boring speech – very boring with lots of rhetoric about Arab revolutions which of course he did nothing to help.

Some of it was positively delusional! When he said we’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum – it’s delusional, it’s just not true.

Bahrain government

The Cabinet of the Kingdom of Bahrain have welcomed the principles contained in the speech delivered by the US president Barack Obama that included visions and principles that agree with democratic strategy adopted by Bahrain under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Moreover, the Cabinet also affirmed that the door for dialogue was open in the Kingdom of Bahrain since the launch of the National Action Charter and would remain so and hopes that the dialogue witnesses the participation of all to achieve a national consensus through constitutional establishments.

Office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of US commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress. 

Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centres in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will make clear that the defence of Israel requires an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will also express his disappointment over the Palestinian Authority’s decision to embrace Hamas, a terror organisation committed to Israel’s destruction, as well as over Mahmoud Abbas’s recently expressed views which grossly distort history and make clear that Abbas seeks a Palestinian state in order to continue the conflict with Israel rather than end it. 

Saeb Erekat – Top Aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 

President Abbas expresses his appreciation to the efforts being exerted, the continuous efforts by president Obama with the objective of resuming the permanent status talks and the hope of reaching a final-status agreement in all core issues including Jerusalem and refugees.

Sami Abu Zuhri – Hamas spokesperson

We were expecting a lot more from Obama’s speech today regarding the Palestinians who suffer from the hardships of the occupation, and what the Israeli occupation does against the Palestinians. But Obama did not bring anything new.

What Obama needs to do is not to add slogans but to take concrete steps to protect the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation.

The peoples of the region are not in need of Obama’s lectures. Obama reaffirmed his absolute support for the policies of the (Israeli) occupation and his rejection of any criticism of the Occupation.

We affirm that Palestinian reconciliation is a Palestinian affair and that the (peace) negotiations have proven to be pointless.

Hamas will never recognise the Israeli occupation under any circumstances.

Ezzedin Choukri-Fishere – Political Science Professor at the American University in Cairo

I think this goes substantially beyond what Obama said in his Cairo speech in 2009, where he merely set the tone for the new administration and talked about general principles of a new American policy towards the Arab world. I think this time he is coming up with a concrete indication of policy on the major issues the Arab world is facing. That is new and, in fact, it is about regaining leadership.

Essam al-Erian – Senior Member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

A disappointing speech. Nothing new. American strategy remains as is. American cover for dictatorial presidents, in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain remains as is. Perhaps the sharpest tone was towards Libya. American promises are just promises. There is no decisive decision to immediately withdraw from Iraq or Afghanistan. Threatening Iran remains the same.

Shadi Hamid – Director of Research at the Brookings Center in Doha, Qatar (on Twitter)

My prediction on Obama’s (Middle East) speech: Arab leaders won’t like it much. Arab reformers won’t like it much.

This is the Obama style: Try to appeal to everyone & end up disappointing everyone.

Obama says US core interests align with Arab hopes. Well, why didn’t they align for five decades?

Obama says it will be US policy ‘to support reform across the region.’ Reform, of course, is not same thing as democracy.

Gigi Ibrahim  – Egyptian Activist (on Twitter)

‘Commitment to friends and allies’ — commitment to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Abdulrahman Mostafa – Medical Student in Cairo, Egypt

Hopefully, we think that change in Egypt and the Arab world will change American policy by the power of people. And I think that people in the USA are starting to understand….

I think it should be emphasised that having aid for Egypt is something good, but also Egypt has it’s own foreign policy and I think the US should deal with Egypt not as a follower as the past, but as a partner. So if we have a common interest we can co-operate together to have our common interest and to exchange benefits.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies