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July 23rd, 2008
03:10 PM ET

Arab view of Obama trip

CNN's Octavia Nasr reports the Arab media is showing great interest in Barack Obama's Mideast trip
CNN's Octavia Nasr reports the Arab media is showing great interest in Barack Obama's Mideast trip

Octavia Nasr
Arab Affairs Editor

Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East made headlines on Arab media. As soon as it was announced, one newspaper headline anticipated “Obama will visit the region accompanied by an army of journalists." This set the stage for the coverage theme that this visit is not aimed at Arab media outlets or their audiences but rather at the U.S. voters back home. Many opinions focused on Obama’s need to acquire more foreign policy experience.

An opinion editorial in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reads: "This Middle East tour is aimed at boosting Obama's foreign policy credentials and refuting the notion that his rival, Republican John McCain is more mature in military and national security matters."

In Iraq, Obama met with several officials and discussed his plan for troop withdrawal if elected president.

The government TV station Al-Iraqiya reported that Obama discussed with Iraqi officials “the political Spring the country is going through." From the Dubai-based satellite channel Al-Arabiya came a strikingly different view with a reporter saying, "The ray of hope Obama's visit could carry to Iraq remains insignificant in comparison to the dark cloud that covers the sky of the nation"

And then, there is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... which was at the heart of Arab media coverage:

Commentary from Al-Jazeera’s reporter in Ramallah criticized Obama's 45-minute meeting with Palestinian officials... and contrasted it with what she called "his extensive program in Israel." She concluded, "This is a clear indication that the Palestinian visit is just for show whereas his visit to Israel aims at supporting the state and appealing to the Jewish voters in the U.S."

The unwavering support for Israel is an opinion shared by most Arab media about both candidates, and demonstrated in reports, commentaries and political cartoons. (See attached political cartoon) and check this one on Al-Jazeera’s website.

In his OpEed piece in the London-based Arabic paper Asharq Al-Awsat, Abdel Rahman al-Rashed described Obama's Mideast trip as “politically brilliant” without a guarantee that it will pave the way, as Obama hopes, straight to the White House.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Octavia Nasr • Raw Politics • T1
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. TESAP; SAVANNAH, GA

    The McCain camp seems to be a little jealous of the media coverage that Obama is receiving............ and Cindy I think its obvious especially in Berlin that if people really thought that Obama could not win; just a photo op..... that many people would not have showed up. I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IF MCCAIN COULD DRAW A CROWD LIKE THAT ANYWHERE ON THIS PLANET.

    BARACK THE VOTE PEOPLE........................ :)

    July 24, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  2. Barb

    I have to say if you really believe just because mcCain served in the war it makes him a better candidate a prisoner of war is not not the only credentials you need to be a president and it seems that that is all mcCain has going for himself,

    July 23, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  3. Bashar Dahman

    As an Arab-American, I am disappointed in Obama's postions on the Palestenian Isreali conflict. It would have been refreshing to hear a new approach towards reaching a fair and just solution. He sounds more and more like Mr. Bush. What ever happened to change and diplomacy ? He has said nothing to deserve my vote.
    Bashar, FL

    July 23, 2008 at 11:34 pm |
  4. ELIZABETH

    Too bad the democrates did write off the Clintons with help from media such as CNN...

    July 23, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  5. Robin Hussein Blue

    Cindy, Don't hate me because i'm beautiful.

    Barack hussein Obama

    July 23, 2008 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Amir

    Good report. Sure, Obama has to be seen as pro Israeli back home. Coming out anti-Israeli, or even neutral, could easily cost him the election. You can create "change" much easier as president that as a random senator.
    It was good for Palestine that Obama even stopped, brief as it was. That could be politically dangerous but he wanted to show he considered both sides to be relevant and important unlike McCain on his recent visit. How can you negotiate a "settlement" or at least play the theatrical role of Middle East peacemaker, if you're overtly one-sided?
    I'd swear though, you'd think it was Elvis making this tour. Silly us.

    July 23, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  7. David

    Is Barack campaigning for President of the United States or Chancellor of Germany?

    July 23, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    Its interesting to hear the viewpoint of the people overseas as to how they regard Obama. The Palestinian reaction sounds about the same as it has with past Presidents and Congressional representatives that have visited the region. I wandered over to the site of London's paper – the Guardian – to see what their opinion might be of Obama and found an article that said the Europeans were more enthusiastic about Obama than people in the US – some regarding him as some sort of Messiah. While that is a little extreme I did note in the article that Europeans are excited about Obama and his politics of change and hope and that they hope the average middle American has enough sense to elect him – our last choice of President in their view was a terrible mistake.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 23, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  9. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    Octavia – " that this visit is not aimed at Arab media outlets or their audiences but rather the American voters back home".!!
    DUH YEAH!! These two males are running for elected office!! The salvation of that region takes second place until after the election!!
    All politicos would act in the same manner on the electoral front!!

    July 23, 2008 at 7:46 pm |
  10. Jay

    --
    Cindy July 23rd, 2008 3:30 pm ET

    At least the people overseas where Obama visited knows the truth as to why Obama is there, for photo ops only and to try to boost his foreign policy credentials. Unless you actually have the power to do anything over there going doesn’t help your credentials one bit by just meeting people. Just makes him look desperate because he knows McCain has him beat there.

    Cindy…Ga.
    --

    Cindy, you do realize that many officials (congressmen/senators, etc..) have and will continue to do take part in these informational trips – and just to be clear, senators do have leverage to "do something," let alone a senator that may end up in the white house...

    July 23, 2008 at 7:29 pm |
  11. Ned Amin

    We should have some dignity and stop bowing to Israel, a state that has violated every kind of law in the world only because of our unconditional support. It's shameful to see the leaders and candidates of the strongest country on Earth kissing the feet of a tiny country for their approval. If we were balanced on the issues of the middle east peace would've been achieved a long time ago. Here's the real question: Can we ever say no to Israel? No one dares because it will cost them the elections. That's the truth.

    July 23, 2008 at 6:15 pm |
  12. Jim-

    Both Candidates need to focus on the problems we have here at home as their first priority, once thats done then they can worry about helping the rest of the world. With what has been spent on that trip I could have paid off my debts & paid bills ahead several months.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  13. sasha

    Why isn't McCain more pasty white and confused looking in the above cartoon?

    July 23, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  14. Eric

    No matter who is elected President, there will always be doubts (rightfully so) until progress is made in that region of the world!
    And Cindy McCain looks desperate trying to get my conservative vote and he's making it really tough to get it with all of his misqoutes!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  15. P.J.....NC

    Oh get over it!!! McCain's camp hounded Obama to death to visit the region. Now that he is/has, they are upset that he is getting all of the press time. This only makes McCain more desparate as he knows that the more Obama is viewed through the "presidential eyes", the further away it becomes for him. It was so refreshing to see our country represented by an intelligent, bright individual who is willing to listen and strive to find common ground. A BREATH OF FRESH AIR!!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  16. Cindy

    At least the people overseas where Obama visited knows the truth as to why Obama is there, for photo ops only and to try to boost his foreign policy credentials. Unless you actually have the power to do anything over there going doesn't help your credentials one bit by just meeting people. Just makes him look desperate because he knows McCain has him beat there.

    Cindy...Ga.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  17. Larry

    Why does obama look 'blacker' in the above cartoon?

    July 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm |