Obama’s Arab Spring Speech Brings Yawns From Middle East

Posted on May 20, 2011

Reuters has a comprehensive roundup of opinion from scholars and politicos in the Middle East that boil down to a big, fat yawn.  Most do not believe it is much of a departure from previous policies or that the US just wants to make the region safe for US arms sales.  Full text of the speech here; find the reactions here.

Israeli reaction was swift and negative.  A West Bank pullout would leave Israel indefensible. [Newser]  Britain’s Economist yawned:

BARACK OBAMA has spelled out his prescription for the partition of Palestine. “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines,” he says, “with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states.”

That is not a departure from long-established American policy. The 1967 lines dividing Israel from the West Bank and from Gaza—once spurned by Israel’s Abba Eban as “Auschwitz borders”—have always implicitly been Washington’s point of departure for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But now, for the first time, the four digits have become formal American policy. Middle East cognoscenti were speculating furiously ahead of the president’s speech at the State Department on Thursday over whether he would utter them or fudge

This morning, still not official reaction from Russia or China to the speech.  This post will be updated.

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