EGYPT: Mixed feelings among Arabs about Obama’s victory


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

The victory of Barak Obama has elicited cautious optimism in the Arab world, as comments posted by readers on the websites of major Arab news websites have shown.

On the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya website, Abu Khaled wrote:


“Whether it is Obama or McCain, the US foreign policy is formulated in advance. Their unjust policy vis-à-vis Arabs and Muslims and their bias to Israel and their greed will not change. What Bush did to Arabs and Muslims, although we thought he would be more moderate than his democratic contender back then, shook our confidence in everyone. Although we prefer Obama, we should not be very optimistic.’

Bakri Mohamed wrote on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera website:

“We should not be relying on others to bring change; we should pursue change to the better by ourselves. As to Obama’s victory, I don’t think it will change much in terms of US foreign policy. Anyway, congratulations to Obama.”

Respondent Essam Zayed agreed with him, saying:

“The optimism about Obama’s victory sounds strange. The US policies are usually put by the Congress and not the president. In the US, the president just implements these policies. We just hope that Obama would be more moderate than the dustbin of history called Bush.”

The U.S, elections were covered intensively by Arab media. The region was watching very closely, hoping that the Republican rule would be brought to an end with Obama’s victory. On the Qatar-based al-Jazeera website, Mohamed Youssef wrote:

“Congratulations to the American people and to all African Americans and to all Africans in general and to all advocates of civil rights. Let Bush and his associates and supporters and McCain go to the dustbin of history.”

Despite others’ skepticism, some Arabs are pinning their hopes on the new Democratic president to pressure their regimes to move toward genuine democratization. On al-Jazeera’s website, Mai Shadid wrote:

‘The change that will sweep US politics and its future identity will not stop at US borders but it will also be exported to the outside and will definitely reach the Arab region which has been tightly closed to all currents of democracy and political and economic reforms. It was the alliance between subsequent US administrations and the [Arab] oppressive and corrupt regimes that prevented the exportation of change to this region. Now we have an American administration that wants to save itself and learn from the mistakes of its predecessors in order to save its country and people.”

—Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

P.S. Get news from the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for ‘L.A. Times updates’ and then clicking on the ‘World: Mideast’ box.