On his first television interview since the inauguration, President Obama takes to Dubai airwaves to address Middle East concerns.Hoping to make a clean break form the controversial Bush policies, Obama announces to Arab viewers, “that the Americans are not your enemies.”
Obama’s message sited no specifics in his plans for action, but instead focused on the general concerns for peace and restoration in the area.Though only his first address to the Arab world, militant Palestinian Hamas group have already softened their stance against the president.Hamas official, Ahmed Youssef said, “In the last couple of days there have been a lot of statements (from Obama), some of them very positive…I think there are some positive things we have to count.”Hady Amr, director of the Brookings Doha Center, says “President Obama has made it absolutely clear … that a central priority will be repairing America’s relations with the Muslim world.If that’s his objective, I’d say he’s been hitting home run after home run.”
Yet, not all listeners were so easily pleased. A Gaza city citizen doubts the president, saying, “I can’t be optimistic until I see something tangible, anyone can say nice words, but you have to follow with actions.”Still, even these mixed feelings seem better than the uniform hatred found during the Bush administration.
This interview was only the start of the president’s first Middle East visit, which will take him to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the West Back, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.Only a week into office, Obama hopes his diplomatic efforts and openness to Arab world will usher in a new era “based on mutual respect and mutual interest.”