How The Muslim World Saw the Election
By Micah Halpern
Tuesday November 11, 2008
We may all live in the same universe, but we also live in very different worlds.
The Arab world, with the exception of al Qaeda, is pleased as punch, tickled pink, just plain thrilled that Barack Obama has been elected to the high post of president of the United States. The Arab press has not stopped singing the praises of the man now known as 44.
What has become evident from the coverage, editorials, statements and comments by leaders of the Arab world in praise of Obama is just how little these societies understand about the United States and about democracy. They think, they truly believe, that US foreign policy will change on a dime. The Arab world thinks that this new administration will come to its senses about Israel. They think that the United States and Iran are about to begin a friendship.
Certainly it is customary to congratulate a winner in any election, but the congratulatory messages from the Arab world were anything but standard protocol.
Hamas: "Obama should learn from Bush's mistakes."
Syrian Minister of Information: "hopes that Obama will herald a change in United States policy" and that the US will be constructive instead of destructive.
President Mubarak of Egypt: "expects a constructive approach to the Middle East."
President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas: "Obama is serious about the Middle East."
The president of Iraq: "eager to cooperate with Obama."
A large and influential newspaper in Saudi Arabia wrote: "the election of Obama is the end of the era of white men in the White House." "We want to be able to admire the US once again."
Al Qaeda did not share in these sentiments. Al Qaeda is disappointed in the election of Barack Obama. Al Qaeda was hoping that John McCain would be elected the next president of the United States so that, to paraphrase them,
The Arab and Muslim world will be disappointed.
United States foreign policy under Barack Obama will differ very slightly from United States foreign policy under George Bush when it comes to the Middle East and to terror. It makes no difference who the president is, facts are facts and security briefings are security briefings and Barack Obama has already begun to get his daily briefings. The strength and direction of US policy will continue because there is no other alternative if we are to remain safe and win the war against terror.
Fundamentally, neither priorities nor policy can change. If there is anything that can humble the most powerful man in the world it is his daily security briefings.
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