The presidential victory of Barack Obama leads the news in Arab press Thursday, with columnists weighing in on its effect on the Arab world.

“‘New America’ goes beyond the period of war and crowns Obama with a second term,” reads the headline of the London-based daily Al-Hayat. The daily reports that in his second term Obama will face the challenges of drafting immigration laws and dealing with the crisis of religion.

A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned daily based in London, calls Obama’s victory “historic,” depicting him in a photo during his victory speech with confetti falling around him.

The daily’s editor, Tareq Homayed, criticizes Obama’s foreign policy on the Middle East, especially in forsaking the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009 and allowing Iraq to fall under the sway of Iran.

Homayed claims that a second term will allow a freer Obama to take hard decisions on the Middle East.

Homayed says that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states must act diplomatically quickly and not allow Washington to act alone.

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, highlights two points in Obama’s victory speech. The first is Obama’s statement that the era of war has ended — an allusion to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and regime change in them.

The second point Atwan focuses on is the American need to free itself of foreign oil exports.

“Obama… did not refer at all to the Arab region and its crises, including the issue of Arab-Israeli peace or Iran’s nuclear aspirations, and the peaceful or war-like treatment of the matter.”

“But this does not mean that his ignoring will last long, especially with regards to the worsening Syrian crisis.”

A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahmad Rashed wonders whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad are celebrating Obama’s victory.

Those who know the American system understand the dangerous influence of the president’s second term’

Rashed reports that people in Tehran and Beirut’s southern suburbs celebrated Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney, believing that he will be softer on the nuclear question.

“I disagree completely,” writes Rashed. “I believe that… Obama will be the one to terminate Assad and remove the threat of the Iranian regime during his second term.”

“Those who know the American system understand the dangerous influence of the president’s second term.”

Bahrain strips oppositionists of nationality, sparking rage

Bahrain’s decision to strip 31 members of the opposition of their nationality is widely reported Thursday in the Arab press, sparking harsh criticism.

The official reason for the move, Al-Hayat reports, is “harming state security.”

Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which is generally critical of the region’s monarchies, leads its front page with the story, quoting from an Amnesty International report on the decision and describing it as “frightening and chilling.”

A-Sharq Al-Awsat, expressing the opinion of the Saudi ruling family which is closely allied with Bahrain, quotes the Bahraini foreign minister as saying he hopes that Iran stops its threats and stops hosting secret meetings.

Iraqi children kidnapped to finance Al-Qaeda  

Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports that dozens of children in Baghdad have been kidnapped for ransom by criminal gangs in order to finance al-Qaeda.

The phenomenon has spread following Iraq’s success in preventing foreign funding for local terrorist groups.

Al-Hayat reported that just days ago Iraqi anti-terrorist forces succeeded in freeing a kidnapped child, whose captors demanded $600,000 in return for his release.