For the moment, Arabs are mainly excited about Mr. Obama’s victory, and have much good will toward him and the country that chose him. But Middle Easterners are more skeptical than anyone else about American politicians and their intentions, and already it seems Mr. Obama is no exception.
His speech during the primaries to Aipac, the powerful pro-Israel lobby group, did little to assuage fears that America will continue to support Israel unconditionally. And there remains a more general anxiety that, like previous American presidents, Mr. Obama will somehow let the people of the Middle East down.
To provide a sense of what Middle Easterners are thinking about the American election, here are excerpts, translated by me where necessary, of blog postings from the day after Mr. Obama’s victory.
— JOSIE DELAP, an editor for Economist.com
Tamem, Egypt (tamem.wordpress.com)
The victory of Barack Hussein Obama that we, along with the rest of the world, are witnessing today is another historic moment, not just for America but for the whole world by virtue of America’s huge influence, whether we like it or not. Personally I, like others, doubted Americans’ ability to overcome racism, but in electing “Abu Hussein,” they created a historic moment by accepting the first black president to govern not just America but the white West as a whole. With this, they removed all such doubts and the impossible dream of Martin Luther King became possible.
(translated from the Arabic)
Syrian Dream, Syria (syriandream.com)
The world arose today to welcome Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States, and Africa danced with joy.
The whole world is optimistic about what he offers but doubts remain about him, a great question mark.
What will Syria’s fate be under him? Will he give the green light to bombing us?
(translated from the Arabic)
The Damascene Blog, Syria (damasceneblog.com)
Dare we hope that the eight-year nightmare is over?
Egyptian Chronicles, Egypt (egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com)
The Egyptian people are glad that Obama won despite their previous knowledge of his bias to Israel, and his V.P. is a Zionist. But still they are happy because they can’t stand the Republicans anymore.
Good for the Americans.
Esra’a, Bahrain (mideastyouth.com)
I can honestly say that we can finally wave goodbye to the overwhelming anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry that we have suffered with for the past eight years under the Bush administration. We can expect less wars, less corruption, less political abuse. It won’t be perfect, but it will get better. I am so happy and proud of all the Americans who worked extremely hard for Obama, understanding fully well the importance of change in every sense of the word. This moment is not just historical but crucial to us here in the Middle East.
This is a win for all of us, not just America.
This is a win for civil rights and justice.
For all the pessimists out there, allow us to enjoy this moment. If you learned anything from this campaign, you would learn that it starts with hope — not cynicism. And hope is what I have right now, for America and the Middle East.
We can do it, and this time, we can be sure that we can do it together.
I haven’t said this in a really long time, but I am loving America right now.
The Black Iris, Jordan (black-iris.com)
Congratulations are in order to the American people and the Obama fan base.
So begins a new chapter in American history, to say nothing of world history.
Fingers crossed that it’ll be a positive one, especially for this region.
The Skeptic, Egypt (elijahzarwan.net/blog)
A new day dawned in Cairo today. As it does every day.
And it started as it always does: with birds, schoolchildren and car horns. No national holiday here.
I’m looking forward to going out in the streets to hear the reaction. The best reaction I’ve heard so far: “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.”
Bah humbug. I confess I’m moved.
Mashrabeya, Egypt (mashrabeya.blogspot.com)
Only time would tell if Obama is real, or just too good to be true!
Sometimes, it is not enough to have a Big Dream. What matters is to have enough strength to resist the pressures to give up a Big Dream!
Land and People, Lebanon (landandpeople.blogspot.com)
My take on this is that he is the president of the United States, and not Barack Obama. That said, I would really like to hope for change. After all, Obama showed that change was possible: he himself changed from a supporter of Palestinian rights into a man who believes that Jerusalem is the historic capital of Israel. He also changed during his campaign from “No Iraq war for me please, I’m trying to quit” into “All right I’ll have some, but a tiny piece please.”
People in the Middle East are expecting to see Obama act differently from previous U.S. presidents because he is darker-skinned. Time will show again that the color of the skin has little to do with politics, democracy and equity. Just look at the Arab world with its homegrown dictatorships.
But the question that really interests me is about the relationship between Obama and the true center of world power, Kapital. There was an awful lot of money in Obama’s campaign … A great chunk must have come from carefully planned investments by C.E.O.’s and multinationals. Will Obama be able to confront the mega-corporations? Does he want to? The poor and the colored population of the world, including that of the U.S., is the one that suffers most from malnutrition and hunger and food insecurity. We know now that mega-corporations, pushing for more profit at any cost, are responsible for most of the damage. Will Obama do something about that? Does he want to? Can he?
An Arab Woman Blues, Iraq (arabwomanblues.blogspot.com)
So Obama, the booma, won the elections. I had already predicted that in my post “A long American-Iranian Film.”
I said the following, “My hunch is — and my hunches are rarely wrong — if Obama the booma wins, and he will, by a small margin, Iraq will be handed over to Iran …”
I also said that Obama will strike a deal with Ahmadinejad on Iraq and in particular southern Iraq.
And lo and behold, the vice president for the booma Obama is none other than J. Biden. J. Biden. … is an ardent supporter of the partition of Iraq into three statelets. No wonder Maliki & Co. were also backing the booma along with Iran. I also know that Iran had generously contributed to the Obama campaign.
… I shall not congratulate you on your 44th president. He will simply finish off what the other Zionists had started — the final partition of my country.
To hell with all of you and all of your presidents.
Neurotic Iraqi Wife, Iraq (neurotic-iraqi-wife.blogspot.com)
For me, this is not just about history, this is about someone who was able to bring down the very people that broke my country. It’s a great punch to the very people that destroyed the individual Iraqi. And that to me is an enough victory.
I will only have to say to Mr. Obama, don’t let us down.
Ali, Jordan (alidahmash.blogspot.com)
This is what America is all about. The land of the free, dreams and opportunities. Despite all the catastrophic mistakes that America committed the past years, the American Constitution and system prevailed. The people of America have chosen for change, they voted for Barack Obama. They have learned from their past mistakes with the Republicans. They chose Barack Obama not because of his skin color, but for what he stands for, because they believe he will change America …
Barack Obama is not a wizard either, he won’t be in the office until Jan. 20, and by then he must choose his cabinet wisely. It will take many months until the economy improves, which was the main concern for Americans in this election. Unlike the elections in 2004, terrorism (the Bush game) was the least concern. It will require a lot of time and sacrifices to get out of Iraq, though I doubt that American lobbyists are ready to give up the oil in Iraq and the Gulf region. As for the Middle East peace process, I will not only hope that Obama doesn’t side with the Israelis only and the Israeli lobby in America, but to put real effort on achieving a fair and just peace for the Palestinians and the Israelis. And hoping is not enough, as Arab leaders and organizations should move quickly towards building an alliance with Obama.