Arabs who hope Obama is lying

Amir Taheri:

'OBAMA! Inshallah!" - Obama! Allah willing! That slogan, scribbled on walls in Gaza, indicates the hopes that Barack Obama has inspired among Arabs.

While Obama has tried to push his origins into the background, his "Islamic roots" have won him a place in many Arabs' hearts.

One columnist, Mohamed Al-Menshawi, hails Obama as "the candidate with Muslim roots" and as the "harbinger of solidarity between Americans and the Muslim world."

Another, Al-Jazeera's Aala al-Bayoumi, notes: "Had it not been for Obama, Arabs would not even bother to follow the US presidential race." What makes the difference is Obama's "Islamic and African roots."

Marwan Bishara hails Obama's "radical politics": "For the US to vote in an African-American progressive liberal would certainly mark a departure from the hyper and violent conservatism of the Bush-McCain camp," he writes. An Obama presidency "would be better for both the US and the Arab world."

Obama especially appeals to pan-Arab nationalists angry at the United States for having ousted Saddam Hussein. Obama's promise to leave Iraq gives pan-Arabs their only chance (albeit slim) to destroy the new Iraqi democracy.

While radical Arabs, including the Hamas leadership, favor Obama, most Arab officials are wary of him. They fear his inexperience and leftist connections might destroy all that has been gained in Iraq, provoke a bigger mess in Afghanistan, trigger a war with Pakistan and open the way for Khomeinist hegemony in the region.

Note that Obama wouldn't be the first politician with Muslim roots to lead a major non-Muslim country. Carlos Menem, a Muslim of Syrian descent, served as Argentina's president from 1989 to 1999. But he dropped his Arab-Islamic first name and adopted his baptismal Christian name before entering politics.

Obama, by contrast, has retained his Arabic-Islamic names. (Barack means "blessed" and Hussein means "beautiful.") His family name is Swahili, an East African lingua franca based on Arabic. Arab commentators note that his siblings also all have Arabic Muslim names. His sister is called Oumah, Arabic for "the community of the faithful his older daughter, Malia, bears the name of a daughter of the Caliph Othman, who commissioned the compilation of the first edition of the Koran. That Obama's stepfather was also a Muslim (from Indonesia) strengthens the empathy that many Arabs feel for him.

The Syrian regime has also indicated its preference for Obama, not least because President Bush forced it to end its 29-year military occupation of Lebanon. Buthaina Shaaban, an adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, has welcomed Obama's call for radical change in US policy. She writes, "The change suggested by Obama is essential not only for the US but for the entire human family."

Also enthusiastic for Obama is the Lebanese Hezbollah. The party's No. 2, Sheik Naim al-Kassim, went as far as inviting Americans to vote Obama as a step toward peace with Islam. (The party disowned his comments as "personal opinion.") Pro- Hezbollah columnist Amal Saad-Ghorayeb has no doubt that Arabs should welcome an Obama presidency because "African-Americans are more sympathetic to Arabs because they, too, are oppressed."


All the Arabs who are hoping for an Obama victory hope he is really lying about his support for Israel. One of the interesting things about the Obama cult in this country and abroad is the hope of his followers that he is just saying certain things he does not mean so he can be elected. Rev. Wright said the same thing when Obama was being critical of his outrageous statements.

What the Arabs don't realize is that Obama has put himself in a political situation where he can't embrace their desires on Israel and that the most he can give them is a seat at a table that will serve them more disappointments.


  1. I see that Barack Obama wants everyone to learn another language, but which one should it be? The British learn French, the Australians study Japanese, and the Americans prefer Spanish. Why not decide on a common lingua franca, taught worldwide, in all nations?

    It is totally relevant then, that UNESCO will meet in Paris, on 15th December, to acknowlege Esperanto, as a living language, in conjunction with the International Year of Languages

    An interesting video can be seen at A glimpse of the language can be seen at


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