Obama to reveal Middle East approach through speech to Egypt

May 9th, 2009 - 4:32 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 9 (ANI): When President Obama delivers his long-promised speech to Egypt on June 4, he will make his plans clear on how he would treat the Muslim nation far differently from what the Bush administration did.

Although Obama can’t completely ignore Egypt’s poor human rights record and decades of one-man rule, the Politico opines, he sees Egypt as a key player in much that he wants to achieve in the Middle East.

Egypt becomes even more important to fulfill Obama’s goals of reviving the Israeli-Palestinian process and of countering the influence of Iran.

Obama is in effect acknowledging Egypt’s view of itself as the leader of the Arab world and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s own self-image as America’s vital ally-a recognition status that the Bush administration never seemed willing to extend.

“If Obama was going to go to an Arab country, it had to be Egypt if he wanted to bring them back into the game,” said Haleh Esfandiari, a Washington think tank.

In addition to his upcoming speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates both have visited Egypt already.

Egypt’s government also seems interested in avoiding high-profile human rights disputes.

The Egyptian government released opposition politician Ayman Nour in February, a move seen as trying to win goodwill from the new Obama administration.

The Bush administration, rather than paying similar homage to Egypt, were interested in lecturing Mubarak on the need to undertake democratic reforms.

To this, Mubarak’s government replied with a long list of repressive actions, including the imprisoning of Nour.

Obama, however, will be talking about U.S. relations with the Muslim world, a subject that he has already addressed in an April speech in Turkey.

Obama said U.S. relations with Islamic countries world could not be defined only by opposition to terrorism. “You cannot put out fire with flames,” Obama said. (ANI)

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