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Barracking Obama, Part II

Barracking Obama, Part II

Moderates in the Arab world are growing increasingly vocal with their criticism of the US president’s Middle East policy, reports Trends. Part II.

January 1, 2010 8:54 by

This may seem like semantics, but some analysts fear it has set the tone for all subsequent diplomacy and put Abbas in an untenable position. “Obama has done nothing until now except say beautiful words, while in practice going back on his position to freeze settlements and to present a substantive peace process,” says Hani Masri, head of the Bada¹il (Alternatives) think tank in Ramallah. “This shows Obama isn¹t serious or ready to put pressure on Israel. Without pressure, how can he achieve the peace he promised?” But the American administration has been putting very heavy pressure on Abbas. At Washington¹s behest, he agreed to withdraw a request for the U.N.

Human Rights Council to consider the Goldstone Report (which found both Israel and Hamas guilty of war crimes in last winter¹s Gaza conflict) and also to retreat from calls for trials at the International Criminal Court.

With the Council recently deciding to back the Goldstone findings, Abbas looks increasingly like a marginalized figure. President Abbas¹ decision to succumb to that pressure has dealt a huge blow to his standing, says Masri.

“He is now in his most difficult situation in four years; even more difficult than during the Gaza war,” Masri says.

Khatib warns that unless Obama changes course and adopts policies that strengthen Abbas, Hamas will gain the upper hand in West Bank public opinion. “They will be more popular and powerful and strong enough to prevent anything they don¹t like,” he says.

Obama inherited a bleak regional environment from George W. Bush: Israeli-Palestinian deterioration, Iran¹s increasing power, the war in Iraq, shifting alliances in Lebanon and a divided Arab world, notes Issandr el-Amrani, a Cairo-based analyst.

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