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The Obama Factor in the Middle East?

Is it possible that Barack Obama’s Cairo speech, with its reach-out to the global Muslim community, is already having a political effect

Last modified: 9 Jun 2009 22:30

Is it possible that Barack Obama’s Cairo speech, with its reach-out to the global Muslim community, is already having a political effect?

The Lebanese election on Sunday resulted in a resounding victory for the Washington -aligned March 14th coalition. This was an unexpected development– an upset. Hamas and its allies lost ground, thereby diminising the clout of Syria and Iran in Lebanese politics.

Could it be that Obama’s speech persuaded Lebanese voters to back candidates identified with the US and Europe?

It is really impossible to tell, without much more extensive and reliable polling information than we have at present. But if Iran’s voters push Mahmoud Ahmedinejad out of power in a few days time, it may be hard to deny that Obama’s speech is having an effect.

Of course, such a political effect, if it exists, will only have an impact in countries with a valid democratic process– which leaves out Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, etc.

Here’s what Simon Tisdale in the Guardian had to say about Obama possible influence in Lebanese politics: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/08/lebanon-elections-obama-effect