Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Arab Reaction to Obama

By Alan Caruba

On November 5, Amr Moussa the head of the Arab League called upon President-elect Barack Obama to act swiftly to try to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

According to an Associated Press report, Moussa welcomed the result of the U.S. election and said it marked a watershed for the United States and for efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. Moussa said Obama's call for change is needed in the Middle East to ease tensions between Arabs and Israelis, and to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran.

What this primarily reveals is that Israel’s existance remains the Arab obsession, second only to their belief that non-Arab Iran plans to take over the Middle East by using a nuclear threat and the Palestinians as their proxy army. Apparently Arabs think that America, not the Arab league, is expected to solve the problem. Americans who believe this are deluding themselves.

Americans might expect that the initial response from the Arab world of the Middle East would be to greet the election of Barack Obama with enthusiasm, but that is because most Americans haven’t a clue as to how Arabs perceive the world and how wedded they are to their victimization and belief that (a) America exists only to rule them and (b) America’s foreign and other policies are determined by “Zionists” and, of course, “capitalists.”

The think tank that specializes in review and analysis of the media in the Middle East, MEMRI, provides a look into their very strange and illogical world.

I begin, however, by taking notice that the very first announcement out of Iraq after the election was one by its foreign minister who expressed the hope that American troops would not be leaving too soon. It’s one thing to hate the occupier and it’s quite another to fear one’s neighbors and domestic insurgents. This is and has been the rule in the Middle East since the days when camel power was the only way to get around. In other words, “America, please don’t go!”

The response by Hamas, one of the Palestinian factions, was to lob 35 rockets into Israel the day after the election. If one is seeking peace in the Middle East, he is likely to wander in the desert much longer than the Jews and they at least had Moses to lead them.

So, one need hardly be surprised that Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawl issued a fatwa to the effect that “Whoever thinks that the Democrats are less hostile to [the Arabs] than the Republicans should know that the number of Iraqis killed during the siege [of Iraq] by the Democrat Bill Clinton is twice as high as the number of [Iraqis] killed by the Republican [George] Bush.” The problem with this, as with most such fatwa nonsense, is that Bill Clinton did not engage the U.S. in any military action against Iraq. Clinton did manage to get a bunch of our boys killed in Somalia, however, before beating a hasty retreat.

According to Al-Qaeradhawl, “The Democrats kill you slowly without you noticing it—and therein lies the danger. They are like a snake whose touch is not felt until its poison enters your body.” Tell me about it!

An Iranian daily, Jomhouri-ye Eslami, opined that, “The most that black man can do in the White House is to replace some of the staff and change some ceremonial procedures. He will never manage to change the structure of the American regime, which was established by capitalists, Zionists, and racists.” Since Iranian newspapers publish only what their government deems acceptable, one can extrapolate that Obama will not receive any warmer welcome than previous presidents going back to Jimmy Carter.

In Syria, currently deploying troops around Lebanon, the Syrian daily, Al-Watan, was far more gracious. Indeed, they hastened to declare Obama the winner before the final results were in. “We wanted to declare Obama president…as a show of solidarity with millions of Americans, Arabs, and colleagues in the world media who [all] yearn for ‘change’ in U.S. foreign policy.” So much for optimism and good will, but it was quickly followed by the view that, “Some claim that if Obama wins he will be no better than Bush, if not worse…They may be right, since it is well known that no American president has ever stood on the side of the Arabs—rather they have all stood on the side of Israel.”

It takes a special brand of crazy to both welcome the President-elect and then declare that he is a crypto-Zionist. How can anyone say that a man named Barack Hussein Obama does not feel just a little connection to Arabs?

In Saudi Arabia, they were equally pessimistic. The Saudi daily, Al-Watan, said in an editorial that “There is no difference between Obama and McCain. They disagree only on the means to achieve America’s chief goal, which is to rule for another hundred years.”

The Middle East will continue to believe that Jews in general and Israelis in particular determine U.S. foreign policy. Despite, for example, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, they think the U.S. had no interest, nor reason to repulse that U.N. sanctioned war against a Gulf state ally. Despite having taken U.S. diplomats hostage in 1979, the Iranians see no reason for U.S. hostility. And, despite having been defeated repeatedly in their efforts to destroy Israel, Arab nations still resent and deplore its right to exist.

Expecting this state of delusion and dementia to see things “our way” is a fool’s game. What they understand, in between recovering from their latest defeat, is the determined application of power to repulse or deter their next misstep. They never learn. Never.

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