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Ten tips for Obama before his visit to Cairo
Ten tips for Obama before his visit to Cairo
The ample achievements the Muslim Brotherhood has made in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, urges you Mr. President to open genuine communication channels with the Islamic movements in the region, especially Hamas, which won the elections in Palestine in 2006. Overcoming many obstacles in order to reach a common vision with the Islamic movements in the Middle East is the way to mapping out the future of American Middle East relations.
Saturday, May 30,2009 12:23
by AbdulRahman Mansour Alarabiya.net
Dear President Barack Hussein Obama

Your choice of Cairo as the place from which to deliver a speech to the Arab and Islamic world came as shocking news to the majority of Middle East affairs observers. As Egypt suffers from a political system that uses systematic repression to suppress political opposition, this was considered as a reward from the newly elected president like you, who seems to have forgotten his own warning to world leaders on January 20th during at the inauguration ceremony: "For those who cling to power through corruption and deception , to those who silence dissenting opinion I say : you should know that you are in the wrong side of history, but we are willing to extend our hands to you if you are prepared to change. "

Choosing Egypt, home to the largest Islamic movements in the Middle East, as a venue for addressing both Arab and Islamic world, rests on the country"s cultural, political and religious influence in the region. But there are doubts that the June 4th speech will be yet another episode in the series of the propaganda speeches you have started after his inauguration as President of the United States.

Your administration"s decision to extend sanctions on Syria contrary to your promises in your talks with regional powers in the Middle East and your government"s weak response to the Israel"s threats to attack Iran, is further evidence of the control hardliners continue to have over Washington. Moreover, extending the military courts in Guantanamo a few days ago, has shored up the the frustrations and doubts of many about the ambitious promises of a president who faces great challenges.

It is fair to argue that your visit to Cairo will not bring about substantial change to the region, mainly because while the American administration has supported policies of reform and the strengthening of democracy, it continues to curtail any meaningful progress through sanctions and conditions.

However for your visit to be of any meaningful consequence to the Middle East, it would be in your interest to keep in mind ten points that would enable a more thorough understanding of both the Arab and Islamic culture and ensure that his speech surpasses mere dimplomatic gesturing.

1 – Address Gaza and Iraq: Middle East"s toughest woes

Your administration"s disregard for war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza Strip is a strong testament to the lack of your adminiatration"s genuine concern for human rights in the region, as more than 1000 civilians, half of them women and children, were killed in the and more than 5000 injured over three weeks of solid bombardment. You are yet to condemn such glaring human rights violations.

The occupation of Iraq by the American forces, claiming to rescue the Iraqi people from dictatorship, has kept the Iraqi people caught between two fiery hells, the civil war, and the occupation. Needless to say that the whole world has seen pictures of the inhuman treatment and torture of the prisoners in Abu Gharib.

2- Address the war on Islam fueled by neo-conservatives

The war on Islam by your predecessor President George Bush was repugnant to both the Arab and Muslim people, who continue to be misrepresented, and are all examples of the suffering to which the U.S. has turned a blind eye. Those arrested and forcibly detained in the Guantanamo prison await an apology from the U.S. If understanding and respect are two things you aim to express to the world next Thursday, addressing Islamophobia is necessary.

3- Support of authoritarian regimes puts an end to your promises

Choosing Cairo is a generous reward for the Mubarak regime, which has not succeeded in the past 25 years in holding, not even one, truly democratic and fair election, unless a genuine critique of his regime while you are in Cairo is at hand. Failing to critique Mubarak and the despotic Arab regimes would extinguish hope in the promises you made in your inaugural speech, mainly to support democracy and political reform in the Middle East.

4- Meet leaders of the opposition

Meeting with the opposition leaders is bound to give you a clear and true picture of what is happening in Egypt. The Egyptian media, both public and private, are dominated by voices working for Mubarak and his regime, It is therefore hostile to all opposition movements, even those on the internet. Leaders of the opposition, as well as well known bloggers are the window to figuring the best ways to implement change by putting the right economic and diplomatic pressure on the Egyptian regime to achieve political reform, which has been stalled since the beginning of President Hosni Mubarak’s era.

5- People await acts and hate propaganda speeches:

Arab leaders have succeeded so far in marketing themselves using propaganda speeches, and we are not willing to hear more speeches that have nothing to do with the real world. The strategic plans to change the American policy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds must be the title of your speech. Acts are better than words! And implementing plans is better than keeping them in drawers.

6- Islamic leaders will help you

Your nomination of Dalia Mogahed, in the Council of Religion, in the White House, was in support of the rights of minorities in America, and gives you a true moderate advisor to talk about the Muslim point of view. Bringing people like Dalia Mogahed, as well as the Muslims in the White House staff to your visit to Cairo will give your visit a good influence, and will support your promises of establishing a true peace with the Islamic world. Giving these leaders a voice in your visit to Cairo, will have a significant impact on your future and your goals to improve your relationship with the Islamic world.

7- Keep Israeli pressure at bay

The policies of reformation and support of democracy in the Middle East are contrary to Israel"s interests in the region. The Israeli lobby is trying to extend its authorities inside the American political community, do not give in to the Israeli pressure.

8- Islamic movements are the future of change

The ample achievements the Muslim Brotherhood has made in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, urges you Mr. President to open genuine communication channels with the Islamic movements in the region, especially Hamas, which won the elections in Palestine in 2006. Overcoming many obstacles in order to reach a common vision with the Islamic movements in the Middle East is the way to mapping out the future of American Middle East relations.

9 – Change from within not from US!

Yet given the the various messages sent to you after your presidency, and the enthusiasm and hope that has engulfed the world after January 20th of this year, we remain certain that real change in the affairs of the Middle East cannot come solely from the US. Today"s generation of young activists, reformers, political movements, and intellectuals can bring about real change in the region, but for this to happen the the United States of America must stop supporting Arab dictators, who in return of this endorsement, support the American and Israeli agenda in the region.

10 – Learn from your predecessor

Propaganda speeches, which stall all progress,are the surest way to leading the region into a political abyss. The policies pursued since the beginning of your presidency, and the deviation from the values on which you based your election, will only make you another George Bush, albeit a charismatic one. Remember that you make history as you set foot on Egypt"s soil. Do not merely make bright and flashy titles of your ideas and your plans, put them into action, and make the right decisions in your upcoming visits to the Arab region.

You must follow through on the issues that the U.S. has always described as vital and important in the region,


*AbdulRahman Mansur contributed this op-ed to Al Arabiya. Mansur is an Egyptian blogger and political activist finishing his undergraduate degree in Communication and Media at Cairo University.

 

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