Egyptian Chronicles: My two cents about Obama’s speech

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My two cents about Obama’s speech

And Obama has addressed the people of Middle East specifically in the Arab world. You can read the speech transcript.

Here are my remarks about the speech.

  • I had the feeling that Obama was originally addressing the American people not the Arab people or the people of Middle East at least in the first part of the speech.
  • Obama spoke about how the Arab people achieved in 6 months what the terrorists failed to achieve , already I do not understand what the terrorists failed to achieve considering the fact the terrorists did not want what the Arab people wanted. “If we put aside changing regime , this comparison was unneeded”
  • It is good that he mentioned that the United States did not have anything with the revolutions and did not push the people to protest.
  • He criticized Syria and attacked Iran for its support to the Syrian regime then he reminded the world how the revolution spring started with that uprising in Tehran and Neda. I felt that he only mentioned Syria in order to speak about Iran.
  • He spoke about Bahrain calling the regime and opposition to have dialogue. Of course he did not criticize Bahrain as he criticized Syria , he also did not criticize Yemeni regime that much.
  • He ignored the rest of the GCC despite.I think the part related to the women’s role in the speech can be applied to Saudi Arabia as well.
  • He defended his policies in Libya ,I felt he was justifying himself in front the American people
  • The most important thing about Egypt in this speech in my point of view was not the swap of $1 billion debt with $ 1 billion  projects to help the country but about the fact that the States will cooperate with the newly elected government in Egypt to restore our assets abroad. Boys and girls we will not restore a penny from the States except with an elected government , do you get that !? 
  • It is not a bad thing that the United States has an agenda because we know that the States like any country only cares for its best interest above all. As an Egyptian citizen I want my country to have its own agenda based on its best interest.
  • The last part was about Palestine and Israel , honestly I do not understand what the new thing he said about the peace process other than that Israel must go back to the 1967 borders. I can’t consider this even as something new because this is a fact if we are going to speak about real peace process

Some people find the speech good while other found it boring. Some people wonder what the price Egypt will pay in return to this relief of debt especially that the States was standing with Mubarak till it abandoned him in the last few days. Some people predict that this is the price of having close relations with Israel. 

The Google executive , our dear Wael Ghonim whom Obama loves to reminds us that he was working in Google “as it is American company” made a very interesting remark that should be taken in consideration when we analyze this speech. According to Wael Ghonim :

Israel was mentioned 28 times while Egypt was mentioned 13 times where as Tunisia 9 times and Palestine only 4.

According to what I know Obama is going to speak in front of the AIPAC next week , this is the real important speech. 

Supporting dictatorships for years can’t be erased by speeches and financial aids rather by actions , true actions. Of course we will not fool ourselves.

These are my remarks , I am not paying attention to the speech because things are developing too damn fast so I would analyze this speech thoroughly and what it does mean. The future of the Egyptian American relations will be determined not now but rather after having an elected government and parliament idealistically speaking.

The Israeli Prime minister issued a statement regarding the Obama speech. The El Assad Syrian regime orphans are attacking the speech.

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12 comments :

  1. Well-said, Zeinobia. Your 2-cents about Obama's speech is worth 200 billion cents and are therefore better than Obama's 1 billion.

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  2. After having analyzed Obama's speech addressed to the Middle East I can summarize it as follows:
    1. President Obama is primarily accountable to his people and US interests.
    2. The US endorses selective democracy in the Middle East depending how it affects the US (e.g. he did not make any mention of Saudi Arabia because of OIL and was soft on Bahrain and Yemen to appease Saudi Arabia.
    3. He was honest and fair in attempting to broker a new the Palestinian - Israeli peace effort.
    4. He was reassuming to Israel's safety and security because Netenyahu's government is not interested in peace.
    5. He was hard on Khadaffi because Europe is dependent on Libyan Oil.
    6. He was morally and financially supportive of Egypt's revolution provided that it stays in line with it's people's aspirations (after all US has invested billions over the past years).
    7. He was soft on Syria because the US fears an Islamic state overtaking Assad's regime.
    Remember, the US will do what is beneficial to it's interests...you would do the same if you were him!

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  3. Israel isn't going back to the 1967 borders no matter what Obama says.

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  4. I agree with much of what you say and see it in a positively. However a few things. The idea of speaking to the people of N.A. And the M.E., he was. He admonished certain behaviors and listed the natural consequences. The words to Syria, were meant for the regime, and are meant. He spoke to Iran, both people and regime. He told Bahraini regime what they should be doing. The strong support for the development of women emphasis was for everywhere, because he believes in this concept. He was telling people that they have to behave and continue to push forward toward that which is right. He mentioned Israel many times but he also mentioned the Palestinian People more than 4 times. I do belive he wishes that he could make things right in the M.E. and N.A., but he can't do it alone. #peace

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  5. You are definitely correct in assuming that President Obama is addressing the American people. He's getting ready to stand for reelection, and everything he does keeps that in mind (that's part of what happens in a democracy, where power is a tenuous thing, easily lost). But it's not necessarily a bad thing that he's speaking to Americans. Obama's rational voice, speaking with his characteristic eloquent idealism in language Americans can understand, is a sorely needed antidote in America to the fear, bigotry, and colonial attitude so carefully cultivated for eight long years by the Bush administration. I think of it as part of a concerted effort to rebuild bridges of understanding, in preparation for rejecting the old policy of supporting the dictators because we're afraid of all those ordinary Arab people who must certainly all be "terrorists." So while the details of his speech may leave something to be desired, at least the tone will hopefully improve the American perception of what is going on with the Arab revolutions.

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  6. Disclaimer: I haven't yet listened to the entire speech, although I've heard some excerpts and news reports about it.

    “I had the feeling that Obama was originally addressing the American people not the Arab people or the people of Middle East at least in the first part of the speech.” — Yes, definitely. The U.S. is shifting into election mode, and Obama is starting to shift his focus from governing to campaigning. That said, I think he gets his best results in terms of actual accomplishments when he’s in campaigning mode.

    “Of course he did not criticize Bahrain as he criticized Syria , he also did not criticize Yemeni regime that much.” ... “It is not a bad thing that the United States has an agenda because we know that the States like any country only cares for its best interest above all.” — I kind of wish he had made that sort of point explicitly earlier on, when everybody was wondering why the U.S. was being so slow to support the Egyptian revolution. He could have explicitly said that American foreign policy is guided both by the fundamental moral principles he talked about during his Cairo speech and by realpolitik, and that those are sometimes in conflict, but that in the long term we hope to be on the right side of history, and the right side of history is freedom and self-determination, and I think Americans and Arabs would have understood that — and it would have given Egyptians and Libyans and Bahrainis and Saudis realistic expectations for how the U.S. might or might not take a stand in their respective struggles.

    “The last part was about Palestine and Israel , honestly I do not understand what the new thing he said about the peace process other than that Israel must go back to the 1967 borders. I can’t consider this even as something new because this is a fact if we are going to speak about real peace process” — Well, it’s not new, in terms of U.N. resolutions or in terms of official U.S. policy under any administration since 1967. But, frankly, it is not what the bulk of Americans expect or the way the bulk of American politicians have talked in public for a good long time. Most Americans (to the extent that they even know that Israel occupies land outside the internationally recognized Israeli borders — and believe it or not, plenty of Americans probably don’t realize that!) probably presume that America’s “special relationship” with Israel will mean that a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians (and Syria) will probably mean Israel giving up some territory it occupies, but retaining significant amount of land outside the 1967 borders. (And that may well turn out to be the case, after all, since Israel has nuclear weapons and not a whole lot of incentive to agree to less.)

    I also suspect that most Americans take Israel’s claim that the 1967 borders would be militarily indefensible and would result in Israel eventually being invaded, or in large portions of Israel being subject to constant bombardment, at face value — and when rockets come in from Gaza, that tends to reinforce that argument. I don’t know enough about the military history or the geography to know how seriously to take those claims (and anyway, they don’t change international law even if true), but its easy to see, in the present atmosphere of conflict, how that sounds like a plausible concern. Unfortunately, I think the overall conflict level between Israel and its neighbours (including the ones living under its occupation) is going to have to go way down before a final border settlement will be within reach — which is hard, because territory and occupation are what is keeping the conflict hot in the first place.

    OK, that was kind of a tangent from my original point, which is that the 1967 borders as a basis for the peace process may have been official foreign policy all this time, but it certainly hasn’t been domestic U.S. politics, and hearing that principle reasserted will be a surprise for many American listeners.

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  7. PS — You (and your readers who are interested in domestic U.S. politics) might be interested in this article on the pro-Democratic Party and generally pro-Obama site Daily Kos about domestic reaction to the speech by the Republican Party (the “GOP” == “Grand Old Party”) and the Anti-Defamation League.

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  8. Great Zeinobia! As usual, your clever remarks are so right, so interesting, and very helpful to understand one of the diverse egyptian positions toward the news! In fact, always when a new releases on Egypt or the Arab world occurs, I ran to see and read what are you thinking!
    Now, just to complete your point on US self interest, I recommend the Greg Calstrom article in Al Jazeera 'Scorecard: Obama since Cairo': from 9 promises, the 5 that were accomplished, were these in direct interest and benefit to them. The other ones, on Palestine and real democracy, weren't met.

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  9. We have over $40 billion in foreign debt, now we will be revealed of 1 billion. YAY..

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  10. Obama pretty well said what he was expected to say. Settlements in the West Bank are on occupied land and illegal under Int. law. He is a lawyer so he couldn't really say anything else. Netanyahu saying that in this special case, Israel should be above the law, outside the law , a law unto itself ,is also no surprise. Catch 22.

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  11. 1 billion debt relief plus 1 billion loan,that's not a swap,it's 2 billion

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  12. Actually, the part about Palestine was not as uninteresting as it may seem. The novelty there is that Nethanyahu was trying to force Obama into supporting him against the Palestinian proposals (the language about the 1967 borders is coded words for Jerusalem). But Obama, by making the speach this week instead of begin June, beat the Israeli Prime Minister at his own game and makes sure that everybody knows the position of the USA is that Palestine's borders are the 1967 ones and any change to these must be a fair exchange, not a land grab. That, my friends, is the true novelty.

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