Center for World Conflict and Peace

Center for World Conflict and Peace

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reactions to Obama's ME Speech

Our own Dina El-Gebaly, a CWCP Fellow, has conducted three interviews to give us a better idea of what Egyptians thought of Obama's ME speech from last week. 

(1) A reaction to Obama’s speech by Mr. Alsherif Wahdan. He is a civil engineer / project manager and also a fund manager in private equity and real estate funds.

DEG: Were you aware that Obama was giving a speech yesterday?
AW: Yes, I was.

DEG: Was Obama’s speech was necessary?
AW: Yes, I think it was a good idea. Egypt needs international and U.S. support economically and politically.

DEG: What did you think of Obama's speech?
AW: I think it was good. I do not know how the U.S. plans to implement an entrepreneurial program in Egypt and Tunisia, but I am all ears and eyes!

(2) A reaction by Mr. Mohamed Moussa. He works as business development and marketing director in a multinational, working in the field of environment.

DEG: Were you aware that Obama was giving a speech yesterday?
MM: I was aware he was going to give a speech, I listened to it.

DEG: Was Obama’s speech was necessary?
MM: The speech was very important and I think it was necessary.

DEG: What did you think of Obama's speech?
MM: The speech wanted to express that the United States is loyal to its values, and that it supports democracy and freedom, which is very important and essential at this stage. Besides, it's very good to remind all parties that the United States is still committed to solve the Arab Israeli conflict.

(3) A reaction by my friend Tamer Badereldin, Chairman & CEO of a publicly traded company, as well as co-founder and Chairman of the Entrepreneurs Business Forum (EBF); the first local NGO to focus solely on the promotion of Entrepreneurship in Egypt.

DEG: What did you think of Obama's speech?
TB: It wasn't necessary for us, but I think that it was aimed to reengage the different stake holders in the Middle East, as well as reassure Israel of U.S. support. (elections are coming up after all). I believe that the United States found itself possibly out of the game after years of using the Mubarak (and other Arab regimes) to legitimize its role as peace broker. The Arab regimes accepted the status quo and acted out of a stance of weakness. Now the Arab people are saying enough!! The leaders are gone, and Israeli acceptance in the region depends on the Israelis appeasing Arab popular opinion. As the Arab Spring grows, and the Arab populations are free to seek their own destiny, it is clear that a new player has joined the game, and I believe that Obama was trying to engage that new player by [making] some promises as well as defining the rules of the game in hopes that the Arab people will engage the United States as the 'middle East peace broker' and not seek a solution outside the United States' scope.

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