Arab columnists blast ‘confused’ Obama
Arabic media review

Arab columnists blast ‘confused’ Obama

US president’s ‘hybrid’ ethnic background explains his political vacillation, London-based paper’s editorial claims

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

US President Barack Obama (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin/File)
US President Barack Obama (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin/File)

A UN statement claiming that seven million Syrians are in urgent need of help leads the front pages of several Arab newspapers on Wednesday.

“The catastrophe in Syria: 7 million need help,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, quoting UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and featuring an image of a burning car following an explosion in the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey.

“The UN: Seven million Syrians in need of urgent help,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring the photo of a Syrian rebel speaking into a walkie-talkie and holding an AK-47 in the Salah A-Din neighborhood of Aleppo.

According to the daily, Ahmad Tumeh, prime minister of the Syrian opposition government, has begun consultations on Tuesday to form his new government geared at providing services to areas liberated by the rebels. A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that the government will include 13 ministers, technocrats and politicians from within Syria.

Meanwhile, London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi focuses on the international differences regarding those responsible for the chemical attack in Syria on August 21, following a UN report confirming the use of chemical weapons.

“Disagreement among the superpowers prevents a decision draft on Syria,” reads the daily’s headline, quoting “diplomatic sources” as saying that Russia is the one preventing a UN Security Council decision on Syria.

On the ground in Syria, Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports that 27 Free Syrian Army members were killed in clashes with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) near the city of Hasakeh in northeastern Syria. The fighting took place near the Yaarabiya border crossing with Iraq.

In their editorial pages, Arab dailies continue to focus on the personality and decision-making process of US President Barack Obama in light of the Syrian crisis.

The editorial of London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi compares Obama to such leaders as Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler, who — coming from the social or ethnic periphery of their societies — all felt the need to prove their national affiliation.

“Obama’s problem, and apparently the world’s problem as well, is that his relationship to the average ‘Wasp’ American is strange and contradictory. He is a mixture of a white American Anglo-Saxon protestant mother and a black African Muslim father. Therefore, he is a hybrid, neither white nor black, neither Anglo-Saxon nor African, not a pure Christian and certainly not a Muslim.”

“Stalin, Hitler and Napoleon fought for the great nations they decided to belong to, and greatly exaggerated in doing so; placing them in a constant state of conflict with their origins. But Obama’s confused origin has caused him and the world to be confused,” reads the daily.

In an op-ed titled “Legitimate fears from Obama’s position,” Paris-based Al-Hayat columnist Randa Taqi A-Din criticizes Obama’s zigzags on the proper reaction to Syria.

“Fears that Kerry agreed with Lavrov to rescue that Assad regime internationally were legitimate, considering Obama’s hesitant position, his weakness, and his confusion. He called his French counterpart Francois Hollande and agreed with him to strike Syria together. Then he called him back the following day and backed down, saying he needs the agreement of Congress. Then he postponed the vote to give a chance to Kerry’s diplomacy with Lavrov.”

“Obama’s hesitance and his change of position is an embarrassment to the French president, who adopted a solid and unwavering position on the punishment of Assad from the chemical crime.”

“The confusion Obama created by changing his mind and his hesitance also raise concern that he will change his mind and grow bored of the Syrian issue, agreeing to allow the current regime to retake its role in Syria,” she writes.

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