Friday, May 20, 2011

The Few Arabs Who Paid Attention Thought Obama's Speech Sucked

While the primary focus of Obama's speech was his attempt to de-legitimize the boundaries of Israel (much as he has done with America's, actually) I thought the Arab reaction was quite noteworthy as well:

“I don’t think this is going to fix his image. He should have said something from the very beginning, but we’ve been waiting,” said Fares Braizat of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar.

“Most people have realized that what the U.S. does or does not do is no longer important because people took matters into their own hands and decided their own future,” he said. “So why should people care what he says? America is no longer an issue.”

It might not have helped that Obama chose to deliver his speech on a Thursday evening, the beginning of the weekend for most of the Arab world, when almost everyone goes out.

So this is "smart diplomacy", I suppose. Alienate the very people you assured us you would be easily able to reach out to (hey - the guy's middle name is "Hussein"! What other proof is needed?) with a hypocritical half-hearted speech when the bulk of your intended audience was out partying (or a reasonable Arab facsimile thereof).

Yet more embarrassment for Obama as the "Assad as reformer" meme came out again:

“The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy,” Obama said. “President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way...."

“But I wonder,” Wissam Tarif asked. “Does Obama really believe Bashar is capable of leading reform? We have not seen in the past eight weeks a president who is willing to reform."

No, actually, he just went ahead and killed more people almost immediately after the speech. Seems like the only two people stupid enough to believe that the scorpion will not sting are Obama and Hillary Clinton. Even the frog, alas for him, knows better.

What kind of lasting impression did the Obama speech leave?

The impression was created of a superpower attempting to reconcile its strategic interests with its values and not entirely certain how to get it right, said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

And the region didn’t seem convinced that the United States would get it right.

Not with Obama at the helm. In thus case, it seems your average Arab man (or woman) on the street has more of a clue than our President. Seems like they are making a determined effort to ignore him, as most Americans have.

I fear, however, that in the bowels of the Hamas/Fatah underground headquarters, there are some folks who take him very seriously indeed. And they are capable of mass murder on a horrendous scale...

UPDATE:  More negative reaction to Obama's speech from the "Arab Street" at the New York Times:

Everybody still has it in the back of their minds how America flip-flopped in their position toward these Arab revolutions,” said Amr Jarrad, 28, a banker in Amman, Jordan, recalling when the White House at first appeared to stand by its ally, Hosni Mubarak, during the Egyptian uprising. “If you were so good in supporting autocratic regime, why can’t you be so good in telling them to leave?”

....Many said Mr. Obama seemed most willing to support democratic revolts after the fact.

“They wait to see who wins and then support them,” said Ahmed Maher, 30, a civil engineer and an architect of the Egyptian uprising as coordinator of the liberal April 6 Youth Movement.

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