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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the Arab world, hope and same from Obama

As President Obama meets with Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak at the White House, Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim rips the President for his hope and same policies in the Arab world.
Mr. Obama only has to read the latest Human Development Report from the United Nations Development Program to note the steady drop in Egypt's regional and global ranking. Likewise, the annual reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House all focus on the lack of democratic governance and the massive violations of human rights under Mr. Mubarak—including torture and coerced disappearances.

There has also been an exponential rise in sectarian violence against the Christian Copts. Since Mr. Obama's celebrated speech at Cairo University two months ago, there have been more than 40 attacks.

Yet Mr. Mubarak has continued to get a free pass from the U.S. and has even received outright praise from senior members of the Obama administration. The tiny fraction of U.S. aid that is earmarked for Egypt's civil society is subject to the Mubarak regime's veto.

Egypt could be a pivotal player in regional politics. Instead, Mr. Mubarak has squandered his country's potential in exchange for control over the Egyptian people. Schemes to pass down power to his son, Gamal, are now out in the open.

The most disheartening part in all of this is that Washington under President Obama is conducting old-style foreign policy with Arab tyrants from Libya's Moammar Gadhafi to Syria's Bashar Assad. Except for his optimistic rhetoric, Mr. Obama is increasingly perceived by Arabs and Muslims as yet another American president interested in maintaining the status quo.

After his eloquent and moving talk in Cairo, many wonder whether Mr. Obama will walk the walk as forcefully as he talks the talk. He has the chance to do so today at the White House
Don't hold your breath waiting for Obama to scold Mubarak. The only 'change' that interests President Obama in the Middle East is to degrade the United States' alliance with Israel. The Obumbler doesn't give a damn about any of the people here.

Realpolitik? Delusions of grandeur would be more like it.

And to think that when I was growing up, people thought that the Democrats were the party that promoted human rights.


At 7:57 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Democratic Party is interested in stability, not change today. If it means getting along with autocrats and strongmen, so be it. Ironically, the only country Obama want to force change upon is Israel. Hopenchange have a limited utility in the current Administration. There may be moving rhetoric from Obama but very little to give an impetus to real forces of change in the Middle East. Even Haaretz's Gideon Levy has admitted nothing much has remained of Obama's Cairo address that was supposed to reinvigorate Middle East peace hopes. The opposite has happened and nothing is likely to change that direction in the foreseeable future.


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