I keep asking myself why did Obama choose the most repressive regimes in the Middle East to honour not only with his presence, but also to use as a launchpad for his Utopian vision of a peaceful and democratic Middle East? A vision that will continue to remain as illusive as a desert mirage for us Middle Eastners.
Then I try to select an alternate of the 22 Arab countries where he could have used instead, but I fail to find a single one which could be worthy of such an occasion.
Regardless, he touched the perennial issues; Palestine through to women’s rights, freedom of expression to democratic governments and of course the rejection of terrorism and freedom of belief. Points which generally have been raised by every single American president – and world leader for that matter – albeit without such eloquence and empathy – but so far without any concrete steps to see through their resolutions. Somehow a “shared interest” creeps in and all those promises get shelved or forgotten to be revived upon a new ascension to a throne.
What is needed now that he has outlined his vision, is to put in programs to enact sustainable solutions.
I’m not very sure that I would hold my breath to see them though, the main problem we have in this part of the world is the complete absence of democracy, a subject he just skimmed over in this speech.
Would he have changed the thrust of his speech had he delivered it from his White House? I don’t know. What I wish for now is for some pressure, real pressure to be exerted on these regimes to finally allow real popular participation in the affairs of state.
I also know that the tasks he set are onerous and cannot be achieved nor imposed by him or his administration. They must emanate from our own societies who look forward to receive his full support – something that has been severely lacking through much of the reign of his predecessor.
I’m not talking bloody revolution here, just a push to representational democracy.
Will he be man enough to deliver?
All indication so far suggests that he is.
I hope that I will be proven right.