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President Obama's Speech on Middle East Draws Mixed Reviews

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

President Obama’s May 19th speech on the Middle East garnered a mixed reaction at home and abroad, with the president’s claim it could be time for an “Arab Spring” being met with caution.

In his speech, Obama spoke of the people in the Middle East and North Africa moving toward claiming a free life of their own, in concert with Western values.

“I believe now that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals,” Obama said. “The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.”

Obama’s words were met with optimism by Council of American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Nihad Awad who said it is “significant” that Obama supports the freedom movements that have taken place in the Middle East and North Africa in recent months.

“We appreciate President Obama setting the right tone by applauding the recent freedom movements across the Middle East and North Africa, but the true test of our nation's commitment to freedom and human dignity will be in translating this speech into actions and concrete policies,” Awad said in a statement.

Part of Obama’s speech focused on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Obama would like Israel to return to using the 1967 borders before the Six-Day War in which Israel invaded East Jerusalem. However, many conservatives have shot down that theory fiercely; including Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who opposed the Obama approach in an Oval Office meeting with the president.

According to The Washington Post, Netanyahu told Obama that the country “cannot go back to the 1967 lines, these lines are indefensible. They don’t take into account certain demographic changes that have taken place on the ground over 44 years.”

Possible GOP candidates for president also slammed Obama’s speech. Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum characterized Obama’s speech as an incoherent and inconsistent policy for U.S. in the Middle East. The Obama policy, he said, has allowed dictators like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddaffi “to remain in power, while fostering overthrow of our allies in Egypt.”

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