One World One Ummah

America and the Muslim World: Real Progress? Muslim Political Experts on American-Islamic Relations

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By  Politics in Depth Team
Many analysts in the Muslim world think the US actions have not yet spoken louder than words.

The US-Muslim world relations have been the focus of several decision making institutions and political experts since Obama took office more than a year ago. The new US administration has repeatedly announced a new era of dialogue and multilateralism, which is entirely different from that of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

The Seventh US-Islamic World Forum, recently concluded in Doha, is a sign of an American genuine interest in improving the US-Muslim world relations. However, many analysts still think the US actions have not yet spoken louder than words.

Obama’s Cairo speech to the Muslim world last year created a sense of optimism and high expectations among Muslims worldwide. The Muslim world has been awaiting actions on several major issues of concern, with hope pinned on Obama’s promises of turning a new page of common interests and mutual respect. has contacted a diverse number of Muslim political experts and activists across the Muslim world to demonstrate their views on the US-Muslim relations and Obama’s policies toward their countries after more than one year in office


Ramzy Baroud – Palestine

Political Analyst & Writer

In Cairo, on June 4, 2009, Obama purportedly addressed the Muslim World. Then, he made many promises, none of which have actualized. I repeatedly warned of the hyped expectations and of Obama’s own shifting rhetoric and moral flexibility. He was and remains a politician.

The Obama administration faltered in its initial demand of a complete Israeli freeze, and it is now harassing the ineffective leadership of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank to return to the negotiation table without conditions.

As far as ensuring that “Palestinians can live and work and develop their society” is nothing but a pipe dream, considering that Palestinians in Gaza subsist at the brink of starvation, it needs to be stressed that the siege on Gaza would have not been possible without the US support.

Israel, its lobbies, and US interests proved more powerful than rhetoric about hope and change. Muslims and Arabs need to understand that only their unity would create the needed momentum, the required pressure to make Obama or any other person back their rhetoric with action. Otherwise, we are in for a long wait.


Khalid Rahman – Pakistan

General Director of the Institute of Policy Studies
Today, a glance over the US role particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the year depicts a tendency of continuation and consolidation rather than change.This tendency is clearly evident in Obama’s Afghanistan and Pakistan strategies, wherein, instead of coming up with an alternative strategy to the use of force, he decided to bring in more troops to Afghanistan.

He has also allowed drone attacks to increase on parts of Pakistan, in the name of partnership and alliance in the Swat valley, and has squeezed the Pakistani government not to go for any negotiated settlement with its own people but just to attack them.

As a result, Pakistanis have seen extensive civilian casualties, destruction of large areas, and violent reactions from the residents of those areas.


Abdel-Latef Muhammad Al-Ghrair – Iraq  Professor of political science, Al-Mustansiriyah University

Obama did not do anything to Iraq rather than taking his troops away from streets. Before we blame Obama, we have to blame our own government that has not until now given us enough reasons to believe that they can help millions of displaced and refugee families. We are a rich country stuck in a hard security situation, and we can make a difference.

Nevertheless, Obama is doing a very good job. One year is a short period to evaluate his work; however, I trust his good intentions. He was the first US president in decades that tried to make good relations with the Arab World and took US troops out from our streets.

We need much more from him, and 2010 is his great chance to help rebuild Iraq after the large destruction caused by Bush’s government.


Mutiullah Tayeb – Afghanistan

Researcher and specialist in Central Asian affairs

Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan was a big failure in 2009, because of local insurgency and corruption. He failed to find a transparent Afghani partner to count on, and by accepting the results of the fraudulent elections, he also lost his political credibility among Afghani public opinion, and now you can hardly find anyone who differentiates between Obama and Bush.

More American soldiers died and more Afghani civilians died too in Obama’s first year. He could not reduce civilian causalities, and by sending more troops to Afghanistan he will likely intensify the war, even when he is talking about an exit strategy.


Dr. Manar El-Shorbagy – Egypt  Professor of political science, the American University in Cairo (AUC)

I think that we cannot look at Obama’s policy in Egypt without looking at his general view of America’s foreign policy. I think it is one of the most important tasks that the new president when he first took office wanted to do in foreign policy to change the American Era globally.

Obama wanted the US to come across as more cooperative, less confrontational, and more sort of listening to what other countries want to say. Therefore, this would be the general sight of the ambitions of Obama’s administration in its first year, and Egypt is no exception.I think that Obama’s administration has put the relationship with Egypt back to what it was before G.W. Bush. In other words, the relationship has been looked at not as to how to develop it further as much as how to bring it back to where it was.

The most important thing is to bring it back to where it was, which is focusing really on the relationship with Egypt in the essence of its role in regional issues. In addition, relying on the Egyptian role in that and putting less emphasis on the other issues that were the reason for confrontation.


Dr. Abdu Mukhtar Musa – Sudan  Associate professor of political science

We, Muslims, have been let down by the new US president. At the theoretical level, Obama, who comes from a Christo-Muslim family, could have acted as a bridge between the two sides.

However, in practice, he could not change the nature of the US political system, which is deeply entrenched in anti-Islamism and heavily influenced by Jewish lobbies as well as Christian conservatives.

Obama, though originally African, is in the final analysis a product of American Jingoism. He is first and foremost American more than Muslim or African. So we will be committing a mistake if we are to see Obama through his background. We should see him through his Americanism.

Lina Assad Al-Dulaimi – Iraq

Woman’s rights activist and spokesperson for a local NGO

I see Obama’s foreign policy in Iraq as weak and walking as a turtle. Local aid workers expected more attention from his government to displaced families. The majority are victims of the US invasion and lost their homes during the last seven years. The minimum he could do is offering a fund to overcome this problem. He has a good policy and shows a kind heart, but he is forgetting Iraq.

Iraq has to be taken more seriously. If you google the recent news about our country, rarely will you find a positive article about Obama’s policy in Iraq. The press does reflect the reality of Iraq.

He is trying to follow his promises concerning troops withdrawal, an important issue that will calm down insurgency. More criminals are coming out in our land because people are starving, living under deteriorated conditions as a result of a war caused by the US government.

Thus, even if he was not the person who authorised it, as a new president, he has to take the responsibility and show his real intentions to help Iraqis, not by speeches but by actions, which have not been seen yet.


Khalid Amayreh – Palestine

Journalist & analyst

I think most Muslims, including myself, believe that President Obama’s first year in office has been a great disappointment. There is simply a conspicuously huge gap between the promises and undertakings he made in his Cairo Speech in June, 2009, and the present policies and actions of his administration.

Take for example his approach to the Palestinian cause. He had been insisting that Israel would have to freeze the illegal building of Jewish-only settlements on occupied Arab lands in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. He also repeatedly called on Israel to end the manifestly murderous blockade of the Gaza Strip.

However, we see that Obama has been utterly powerless to enforce his administration’s declared policy vis-à-vis Israel, even with regard to relatively petty matters such as freezing the construction of a settler building in East Jerusalem or preventing the demolition of an Arab home in the Old City.

He has also been silent in the face of the Nazi-like Jewish settler attacks on Palestinians and their property, a stand he probably would not adopt had the victims been Jewish, not Arabs.

As to the issue of democracy and human rights in the Arab World, Obama is ostensibly embracing dictators and tyrants in the Arab countries. This means that he is not really different from previous American presidents. In short, Obama’s words speak louder than his actions, however eloquent they may be.


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November 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Islam

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