Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Obama Needs a Magic Wand | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The US President will arrive in Saudi Arabia tomorrow; from there he will travel to Cairo where he will deliver a speech that is eagerly anticipated by the Arab and Muslim world, and even the Americans. These two [presidential] visits come at a time when our Arab world is at the height of division and incapacity, despite this we have noticed a series of articles and television debates that provide a list of demands to Barack Obama [that he must fulfill] in order to satisfy the region. The Arabs want Obama to restore the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights, as well as put a stop to Iran’s nuclear project, without igniting a war with Tehran or making concessions, and preferably even without talking to the mullahs. Obama must also withdraw from Iraq without leaving the country as easy prey for the Iranians.

Obama must also withdraw from Afghanistan without letting Bin Laden and Mullah Omar go unpunished; he must also of course shut down Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre, and release its detainees, even if their countries of origin have not shown any willingness to receive them [back].

These are the Arab demands that our media have been concerned with, and a large number of these demands have also been reported by [government] officials, but we have not heard what the Arabs are able to give in return for this with regards to Obama’s list of demands.

In order to get a clearer picture here we must speak plainly; the American President is putting pressure on the Israelis in order to impose a complete freeze on the building of settlements in the West Bank, and gain [Israeli] acceptance on the objective of establishing a Palestinian state. The news reports that Obama is not acting alone in putting pressure on the Israelis, and that he enjoys the support of the US Congress. This resulted in [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu angrily saying “What the hell do they want from me?”

The Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” reported that the differences between the Israelis and [US Special Envoy to the Middle East] George Mitchell reached a peak [after the US demanded a settlement freeze]. The Israelis spoke of their [previous] dismantling of settlements in the Gaza Strip saying “we evacuated 8,000 settlers on our own initiative” to which Mitchell simply replied “We’ve noted that here.”

And so the question here is; what will happen if Obama tells the Arabs, I will do what I can for you with regards to the peace process, but only one thing is required from you [in return], and that is a solution to inter-Palestinian division.

Is it within anybody’s power to solve this?

This is the crucial question, especially since everybody is talking about finding a just solution to the Palestinian cause. Who is capable of untying this Palestinian knot?

Who is able to publicly say that Hamas is destroying the dream of a Palestinian state?

Obama will arrive and deliver his eagerly anticipated speech to the Arabs and Muslims, this speech is particularly important since it comes after 8 years of conflict, war, and the fueling of terrorism, [that occurred] during Bush’s administration. However the truth is that Obama does not have a magic wand [to wave] at all the problems. In fact, on the one hand, Obama finds himself facing an extremist [right-wing] Israeli government that will spare no effort in order to circumvent any attempts to revive the peace process. While on the other hand the Arabs are busy with marginal conflicts, and groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah are not interested in peace or the Arab position, as they have links to Iran and an intractable desire to rule, even at the expense of the destruction of our nations. And so unfortunately in our Arab world the idea of altruism towards one’s nation remains a fragile concept.