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Posted On: 9 November 2008 08:42 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:08 pm

‘It’s Obama who needs the Arabs’

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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A leading Arab journalist yesterday painted a bleak picture of the future of political reform in the Arab region, saying that the US president-elect Barack Obama is not expected to step up pressures on the Arab countries for democratisation. Addressing a seminar organised by the National Human Rights Committee to mark the national day of human rights in Qatar falling on November 11, Abdul Bari Atwan, the editor of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper, said that Obama was not adopting the “Bush-style of spreading democracy”. “Going by what Obama wrote in an article published in the US Foreign Affairs magazine, he said that he would promote democracy in the world but not in same way which the neo-conservative followed through making wars. I think Obama does not have a programme for democratic reform in our region like the one adopted once by the Right Republicans. He only said that the US aid should be related to the democratic reform in the country,” he said. “We should not put much hope on US president. The problem is not with who is ruling the US, but rather who is ruling us. Are our leaders qualified enough to lead us?. We should have free media and independent judiciary system and equality” he maintained. Atwan said that Obama’s sweeping election victory over Republican candidate John McCain was mainly due to the “Arab and Muslim peoples” whom, he said, failed the US plan both in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We cannot rule out the impact of the US failure both in Afghanistan and Iraq over the performance of the Republicans in the recent US election. “I believe that the heavy bill of the war America launched against Iraq and Afghanistan was among the main reasons behind the declining US economy which in turn cost the Republicans the White House. I wonder if it was a mere chance that the US financial package which totalled $700bn is the same amount of the cost of the war on Iraq,” he said. He also called on the Arab leaders to take the advantage of the US financial crisis and its embroilment in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying that they can “pressure” the US president-elect to consider the interests of the region. “It is Obama who needs the Arabs not the opposite. Only the Arab countries can rescue the US and the financial crisis through their sovereign wealth funds as well as maintaining reasonable prices for oil,” he added. “The British prime minister visited the Gulf states and sought their help. They want us to be a cash cow for them. “We should convince any US president that hat the US will lose if it did not consider our interests.” On the question of political reform in the Arab world, Atwan said the democratisation in all the Arab countries are going from bad to worse. “It was very frustrating that the day which saw a democratic miracle taking place in the US and a black president assuming the power, we found the Algerian president amending his country’s constitution to give him unlimited presidential terms. The Arab countries used to amend constitution as easy as one can change elementary school curriculum,” he added. GT