Arabs' reaction to Obama speech mixed

While some papers hail address as new beginning, other warn that the test will be action, not words.

A day after US President Barack Obama's historic outreach address to the Arab World, media outlets in Arabic were mixed in their reactions to the speech. The dominant tone that emerges, however, is a positive one, answering Obama's offer of reconciliation with calls to Arab leaders to strengthen ties with the United States. The Saudi Al Madina newspaper stated in its editorial Friday that Obama's address was "a reflection of a new U.S. trend toward the establishment of a new world order" and an indication that "the soul has returned to American values." Obama, the editorial exclaimed, "brought the US back to its integrity." In Egypt, Al Ahram called the speech the "the culmination of the statements [promising] change that began during [Obama's] election campaign, and gained momentum after his victory." Al Jazirah, a Saudi paper (unrelated to the TV network), expressed in its editorial disappointment that "Obama [said] nothing new... Former president George Bush also praised our religion and Islamic culture, but at the same time was eager to start wars in the Arab and Muslim lands, and he embroiled his country and our region in these wars." The world should wait to see how Obama plans to "implement" the values conveyed by his speech, the editorial said. In the Palestinian press, Hafez Al-Barghouti, editor of the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote: "We do not expect the new American president to express hostility towards Israel or to demand that it dismantle settlements... He will remain hostage to the American imperialist interests, which are in tandem with [those of] the Israeli occupation..." But leading Arab papers Al Ahram and a column in Al Hayat both called for the Arab world to strengthen ties with the US. Al Watan called for active Arab initiatives following Obama's speech. "…based on Israel's current obstinacy," the paper wrote, the Arabs must meet "on the leader or foreign minister level, to draw up a joint position giving increased support to the Arab peace initiative." Also, "the Organization for the Islamic Conference should call a conference or issue a comprehensive communiqué confirming the Islamic countries' and organizations' support of the interfaith dialogue [initiated by Saudi King 'Abdallah]," the paper stated. Press clippings courtesy of MEMRI - The Middle East Media Research Institute