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A speech without content - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As expected, the US President’s speech was disappointing. Though appeared to side with the people and their freedom, it did so in a calculated measure. Some people have appeared to have precedence over others, as their blood seems to be more precious according to US interests. Once again, the US approach to the Middle East has fallen into the trap of the double standard policy. It is totally unacceptable to have free and dignified peoples who are worthy of support on the one hand, and regimes which are destroying their own citizens with weaponry on the other, and then grant such regimes with more time to “reform”.

Of course, it is impossible to ignore the large contradiction with regards to the Palestinian cause, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. As soon as President Obama ended his speech, the Israelis objected, refusing to return to the 1967 borders and recognize a Palestinian state. In fact, Israel preceded Obama’s speech by declaring its biggest ever settlement project in East Jerusalem, as usual disregarding all international reservations, objections and resolutions forbidding such an act.

Furthermore, to further frustrate the Arabs, Obama laid down a new “insuperable” condition, namely the necessity of the Palestinians recognizing the “Jewish” State of Israel. In essence, this would mean that all Arabs living in Israel would either be deported, or officially classified as second-class citizens.

Barack Obama is the President of the “greatest democratic country in the world”; a country established on a key constitutional principle which reads: “All men are created equal”. This was the ideology of the Founding Fathers of American democracy, and this is what the State was based upon; so how can the President of the United States advocate an idea that is so contradictory to this fundamental principle? US theorists and politicians have come out and openly supported Israel because it is the only democracy in the Middle East, which is utter nonsense.

The Middle East is currently being reshaped. We have countries struggling for their freedom and re-establishing their political life based on liberties, rights, equality and justice. These principles will hopefully be enshrined in newly drafted constitutions, and parliamentary life. Conversely, there are still countries practicing autocracy, despotism and discrimination, at the forefront which comes Israel. These countries are operating on a racial basis, with unjust international blessing.

Senior heavyweight US administration executives, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Vice-President Joe Biden, have been quoted making such statements whilst appearing in a state of confusion, incapable of interpreting developments correctly and accurately.

President Obama was right when he said that the Arab revolutions had achieved in six months what al-Qaeda and other radical and terrorist organizations had failed to accomplish over an entire decade. But here is where the new secret lies, which some US decision-makers are unaware of, and did not include in their analytical view of what is happening today in the region. This initial confusion evident in early US statements has tarnished the status of Hillary Clinton and the Department of State, and has given more prominence to US Senator and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry, who is currently handling the thorny issues in US foreign policy, dealing with Pakistan, Syria and Lebanon. Indications show that Kerry is a prime candidate to succeed Clinton as Secretary of State.

All these developments suggest that the current US foreign policy is “without direction”. This prompted veteran US politician George J. Mitchell to resign as US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, as he realized there is a lack of sincere effort to end the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in earnest.

Obama’s speech was frustrating and void of the “content” it required, in order to establish a serious, supportive, comprehensive, and sustained US policy that applies to everyone. Obama had an historic opportunity to build bridges of confidence with the Arabs, but he chose to follow the lines of his predecessors, with only some changes in the terminology used. Blood is being spilled, lives are being lost, yet more time and opportunities are still being given to tyrannical powers in both the Arab world and Israel.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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