US President Barack Obama on Thursday sought “a new beginning” for America’s relations with West Asia. He made an earnest attempt to reach out to a region where the US is much reviled. But we wonder if this earnestness will be reciprocated.
In a land that has seen little pluralism or political liberty, that might not be easy. The region’s autocracies and petro-dictatorships have fuelled instability, only furthering prejudice and hatred. As long as that remains, Muslim West Asia’s relation with anyone will be hard to alter.
Like clockwork, Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei condemned Obama’s speech, saying that “words, speech and slogan” would not change “the ugly, detested and rough” face of the US. The likes of Osama bin Laden aren’t going to be appeased either.
All this even makes us wonder if George Bush had had the right idea all along with his “Freedom Agenda”. In a region so notoriously unstable, pushing for freedom and democracy might be a better antidote to terrorism.