12:48: Obama is now nearing arguably the thorniest part of his speech--the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--and the Twitterverse knows it. We're seeing a lot of "here we go..."
12:45: Analysts are applauding Obama's support for minorities in the Middle East. Egypt expert Mona Eltahawy observes, "Good to hear #Obama mention #Coptic rights in #Egypt and #Shia rights in #Bahrain. And right after women's rights too." The Atlantic's Max Fisher notes that that goes for Islamist groups, too: "Declaration that U.S. will embrace groups that 'speak uncomfortable truths' sounds like Muslim Brotherhood etc. 'Inclusive democracy.'"
12:38: "Happy everyone? He mentioned #Bahrain," tweets @tbloomquist. Yes, Obama encouraged Bahrain's government and opposition to have a dialogue and added that a dialogue can't take place when some of the "peaceful opposition" are jailed. Al Jazeera's Evan Hill is still skeptical: "Obama stumbled twice when talking about #Bahrain, too much to think he was tinkering with those lines the most?"
12:33: Does Obama want democracy or mere reform in the Middle East? Brookings scholar Shadi Hamid is pursuing this question. Obama, Hamid writes, "says it will be US policy 'to support reform across the region.' Reform, of course, is not same thing as democracy." He points to a 2008 article arguing that Obama favors "dignity promotion" over "democracy promotion."
12:29: This speech is as much about what Obama doesn't say as about what he does say. Several analysts are pointing out that Obama didn't mention U.S. ally Bahrain in listing countries where people are seeking freedom. As Toby Jones notes in reference to Bahrain's ruling family, "Rejoicing in al-Khalifa royal court. No mention of #Bahrain in context."
12:24: As Obama begins his speech, observers are wondering who exactly he's speaking to. Fay Abdulhadi, for example, writes, "Doesn't feel like obama's implied audience is the middle east #MEspeech he's explaining basics to a US audience." But The Atlantic's Max Fisher notes that Obama opened the speech by talking about bin Laden--"whom Americans care about"--and the Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire, igniting the Arab Spring, "whom Arabs care about." Obama, Fisher writes, is "trying to speak to both groups."
12:07 pm - The speech was scheduled to start at 11:40 a.m. but is instead starting about half an hour late. Twitter has instantly given Obama the same treatment it gave ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak when he belatedly addressed his country: A snarky #whyobamaislate hashtag. Saudi blogger @ahmed writes, "Because he is on AST (Arab standard time)." Abeer Allam at The Financial Times adds, "Just because it is #MESpeech does not mean you have to late! U can only be late to appointments if u LIVE in the mideast." Mauritanian activist Nasser Weddady wonders, "teleprompter issues displaying Arabic names?" Regional analyst Andrew Exum gets in one more: "With a pencil and a map in Hillary's office, drawing the borders of a Palestinian state."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.