U.S. President Barack Obama's Cairo speech calling for a "new beginning" between the United States and the Muslim world directly took on the tensions that have plagued relations, particularly since the 9/11 attacks. The speech was not heavy on concrete policy prescriptions, notes CFR's Steven A. Cook, but instead laid the groundwork for a new dialogue between the United States and Muslims. Cook, speaking with CFR.org, said it was significant that Obama took on all the hot-button issues between the two sides, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The fact he has, in the run-up to the speech and during the speech, called the Israelis out on settlements and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people was extraordinarly important for a Muslim audience, but equally important was the fact that he called out Muslims and Arabs for their vilification of Jews, for their denial of the Holocaust, for their denial of the historical suffering of Jews, and for the legitimate right of Israel to exist in the Middle East. [He was] essentially saying to both communities, if you truly want peace and security, you're going to have to make these dramatic steps" toward a two-state solution and reconciliation.
An initial reaction roundup from Reuters showed Arab commentators expressing a mixture of goodwill and skepticism toward the speech. Similar initial sentiment was gathered from Israeli sources by the Los Angeles Times .
Emile Hokayem writes in The National, a United Arab Emirates paper, that Obama is starting a dialogue that is long overdue.
Iran's supreme leader made a statement ahead of Obama's speech that "beautiful" words alone could not remove the distrust the Middle East feels toward Washington (FT).
Poll numbers suggest significant rifts remain between...