Applaud not, Obama’s Mideast policy has failed

When you have hope in someone as we did in President Obama, where we stand now is disappointing

Octavia Nasr

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It’s painstakingly difficult to see things as they are sometimes. This one in particular is a hard pill to swallow. Let’s not dwell on what we thought could have been and what we hoped should have been and what we dreamed will have been. Reality is staring us in the face, as the Obama administration seems incapable of making a difference anywhere in the Middle East.

Looking back at the genesis of our now lost hope, President Obama’s first trip to the Middle East, when he chose Egypt and addressed Muslims around the world. Hosted by Al-Azhar and the Cairo University, he delivered an impassioned and powerful speech promoting a “new beginning.” The symbolism could not be more hopeful; the dream could not be larger: Sovereignty in Afghanistan, security and prosperity in Iraq, a fair inclusive resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, eradicating extremism, promoting dialogue, all themes that received applause in the auditorium and nods in unusual quarters around the globe despite the ever-present naysayers who can never be satisfied.

That was 2009.

Pulverized dreams

The dream of five years ago was pulverized over the years by many factors. One of them is the eruption of an Arab Spring no one was ready for, not even those who led the uprisings; it shook things to the core and flipped them upside down beyond recognition. Just think that Obama was then addressing a Muslim world where Mubarak was his host, Ben Ali was his ally and Qaddafi was preparing for his upcoming rambling speech at the U.N. Today, a defiant Assad hangs in the balance, Iraq is in worst turmoil than it ever has seen, the Taliban is operating freely in Afghanistan and while bin Laden seems to be history, his entire al-Qaeda terror network is now on the loose.

You see, when you have hope in someone as we did in President Obama, where we stand now is disappointing

Octavia Nasr

In 2009, Obama suggested joining forces to confront “violent extremism” in all its forms. Five years later, extremism has grown to its worst dimension with the introduction of ISIS and its sisters in murder, intimidation and terrorism.

You see when you have hope in someone as we did in President Obama, where we stand now is disappointing. No matter what the reason, and there are many, disappointment is unavoidable. Words like, “the people of the world can live together in peace,” which rang true in 2009, today seem to have been only ink on paper and hollow words in a speech only meant to impress.

So my friends, let’s applaud not, nothing here is worth the effort!

This article was first published in al-Nahar on June 17, 2014.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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