Obama reaches out to the Muslim world


President Barack Hussein Obama told the Muslim world on Tuesday that “The Americans are not your enemy” and urged the the Palestinians and the Israelis to return to the negotiating table.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV channel, President Obama stated that the Israel and Palestinian situation should not be the only focal point, but rather the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan and other flash points across the Muslim world should be considered as well in regards to peace in the Muslim world.

“My job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives,” said President Obama during the interview.

“But if you look at the track record… America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that.”

President Obama has promised to directly address Middle East questions at the start of his presidency rather than wait several years like his predecessor George W. Bush, but he did not want expectations raised too high for swift progress for Middle East peace, following the recent Israeli war against Gaza.

But he said he also believed “that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people”. “Instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table” he said.

Earlier in the week, Obama met with his new US Mideast envoy George Mitchell at the White House along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mitchell left Tuesday for a mission to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, London and Paris in his attempts to jump start a dialogue between the Arabs and the Israelis in the region and other important players in helping broker a peace deal such as the UK and France along with the US.

To the Muslim world, a more receptive and open president in the white house who is deemed fair when dealing with the contentious issues of Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya to name a few hot spots will be a welcome change from the past when they have felt virtually ignored. There is also deep suspicion on the part of many in Arab street and the Muslim world in Mr. Obama’s intentions as many will always see a US president as a staunch one sided ally of Israel no matter what the issue and situation.

It will be a very difficult job for the new administration to turn the public opinion in the Muslim world around towards the US after years of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and violence in Israel and Palestine. Pakistanis for Peace believes that the new administration is very well positioned to make some major advancements in the area of peace in the Middle East as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. With capable leaders in Obama, Biden, Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, and Richard Holbrooke, the US foreign policy team is filled with star studded powerful and connected individuals that we hope will shake up the political map in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent and bring some much needed change to this part of the world deemed the most dangerous. We wish him and his team the best of luck and look forward to intense negotiations and diplomacy that will ensure an agreeemnt to the elusive peace between all the sides.

Report filed for PakistanisforPeace.com by Manzer Munir


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