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Obama and the Joy of the Inadequate - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The United States of America achieved a great victory on an international public opinion level by electing the first African-American president, restoring its inspirational image in the process. What we witnessed in the early hours of November 5 was a historical moment that will never be forgotten.

But if we look at some of the reactions in our region to Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential elections, one is overwhelmed by bewilderment. The statements of some figures in our region demonstrated that their joy for Obama’s victory is the joy of those who are inadequate.

Obama is the US president-elect; he is not a candidate of ours. The Americans elected him to serve their own best interests, not ours. However, some responses that have been issued in our region are evidence of the depth of the crisis that we are enduring.

For example, [Lebanese Parliament Speaker] Nabih Berri said, “By electing Obama, the Americans are trying to wipe the slate clean and a wonderful democracy has helped them do that.” Where is your democracy? Where is the benefit in taking up weapons against your own people?

America has chosen a black president whilst you choose black to be worn by every Lebanese citizen out of sadness and concern. Mr. Parliament Speaker, could Hassan Nasrallah deliver a speech like the concession speech given by John McCain in which he acknowledged defeat, knowing that the Republican candidate did not ask for the blocking one-third minority!

Was Nabih Berri the only one? Of course not! Look at the comments made by the Iranian Foreign Minister who said that Obama’s presidential win shows that America wants changes to its policies. But can we see what the Iranians want or the viewpoint of the other side to Iran that would not forge university degrees for its interior minister?

That’s not all. The Syrian Minister of Information expressed his hope that Obama’s victory would help change Washington’s foreign policy and move away from the policy of war and siege towards diplomacy and dialogue and not ignore the problems from which the nations are suffering.

Is Obama a candidate for Damascus? Is he required to solve Syria’s problems? How has the Syrian role or the efforts of Damascus worked towards solving its own problems? How can the Syrian minister ask America to end its policy of siege and to follow the approach of dialogue whilst Damascus carries out blockades and commits other shocking acts in Lebanon?

The issue also applies to Hamas, which called for Obama to learn from the lessons and mistakes of the past, in the words of the movement’s official spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum who asked Obama to “communicate with the nation in a civilized manner.”

By the term “civilized manner” does he mean by way of a coup like the one carried out by Hamas or does he mean by throwing defenseless civilians off the fifteenth floor [of a building]?

The same also applies to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its comments on Obama’s win, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan that once paid condolences to the father of Abu Musab al Zarqawi and today hopes for civilized dialogue.

The Americans voted for Barack Obama to be their next president and he is a product of the Civil Rights Movement that did not use violence or resort to foreign money or weapons for help. Obama’s victory demonstrates that America is able to get back on to the right track and is very flexible. But the question here is when will we get back on to the right track? When will we learn our lesson and end the bloodshed, the treachery, and the Takfir, and when will we fear God for our nations and ourselves?

When we listen to the reactions of some figures in our region, there is nothing to say except that Obama’s victory has brought joy to those who are truly inadequate. Nobody can solve a problem better than those whom it afflicts directly.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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