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Only Arabs Can Restore Arab Rights

Bouthaina Shaaban is a political and media advistor to Syrian President Bashar Assad.



For some ulterior motive, President Obama's recent speech was promoted as if history would be different after June 4. As if the Muslim presence on the international stage was not timid enough - or maybe because of that - the speech was used as if it were sufficient evidence of the desired change in American policy towards the issues of the Middle East.

Barak Obama is the president of the United States, whose reputation has been tarnished as a result of killing millions of Muslims in Bush's wars on terrorism, which he officially equated with Islam. So, Obama's first duty to his country is to delete these sins from the memory of the Muslims, even without mentioning Bush's war on Iraq, which killed a million Iraqis and which, he acknowledged, "was not a necessary war."

But this shy admission, phrased in unfinished sentences and subordinate clauses, was not even close to an apology. Neither did it touch in any way on the suffering of a million Iraqi widows, who lost their husbands in the American war on Iraq and over two million orphans whose lives have been ruined by Bush's export-oriented democracy.

Obama spoke as if the United States is not at all responsible for these war crimes. He even ignored any reference to his decision not to prosecute the war criminals and the jailers of the secret prisons and the torturers from the intelligence services.

Barak Obama set a dangerous precedent for the Palestinian people by urging them to abandon resistance which he called "violence" without urging Israel to lift the blockade, end the occupation or stop the policy of killing, massacres and assassination - or even promise the Palestinians to protect them against the Israeli oppression which has deprived them of freedom for more than 60 years. Meanwhile, his father's country, Kenya, was liberated from British occupation through resistance. In fact all peoples, including the people of the United States, were liberated by resistance, which he equated in his speech with violence.

Obama's speech was disappointing only as far as the Arabs are concerned. As to the Jews, he was very assertive in relation to all their concerns. With unequivocal language, he affirmed that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, while he did not mention the holocaust committed by the Jews in Gaza when they killed thousands of children, women and civilians with phosphorous bombs thrown by American-made warplanes on the houses of civilians under the world's full gaze.

Since Gaza is not on the moon, he could have visited the scenes of today's holocaust before boasting about visiting the monument to the holocaust in Germany.

The question is not a matter of numbers, particularly when he quoted the Quran in the same speech that "he who killed one person without justice would be as if he killed the whole of humanity." So why did not he condemn unequivocally the murder of women and children in 2009, or even mention the victims of the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006? Why did not he condemn with the same vigor Israel's use of phosphorus and cluster bombs and shelling houses with missiles and bulldozing them in Jerusalem and expelling the original Christian and Muslim population from Palestine and depriving them of the right of return to their homeland?

It is easy to talk about democracy, but why did he fail to mention that the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Aziz Dweik, and thirty other members of parliament are in Israeli prisons since they were elected by their people?

President Obama did not mention any international frame of reference for the peace process. Neither did he mention the principle of land for peace. Instead - and this is one of the most dangerous points in the speech - he denied the right of resistance and equated it with violence, ignoring the fact that resistance is an inevitable reaction to a foreign occupation which uses its alliance with the United States to displace the Arab population and replace them with armed extremist foreign settlers. He did not call on the settlers and the Israeli army to stop killing, displacing and humiliating the Palestinians.

That is why we should remember that President Obama was not here to solve the problems of the Arabs. The responsibility for restoring Arab rights lies first and foremost with the Arabs themselves. So, would some of them stop exaggerating the impact of visits made by foreign leaders, and focus on what they themselves should do to restore their rights and gain their freedom?


By Bouthaina Shaaban

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