Obama will have to satisfy critical audiences at home and in the Muslim world
With his long-awaited policy address on the Middle East on Thursday, President Obama is facing a difficult rhetorical assignment.
In the Arab world, his audience will be listening to hear how the president squares his backing of military action against Libya's Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi while taking a far less aggressive posture in response to crackdowns by the regimes in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen. Israelis and Palestinians wonder whether Obama will weigh in with thoughts on restarting peace talks. And Americans will be focusing on how Obama pivots from a tumultuous period in the Arab world to explaining his long-term vision for U.S. involvement in the region.
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Administration officials say Obama's speech will be wide ranging but will also go into details about ongoing efforts at political reform in the region, outline what his administration is doing to support human rights, and offer his views on the United States' broader interests in peace and security in the region.
"The president views the situation in the Middle East as a moment of opportunity ... as a real moment of opportunity for America and for Americans," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "In the last decade, our focus in the region was largely on Iraq, which was a military effort, and on the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the fight against al-Qaida. That fight against al-Qaida continues, but there is an opportunity in that region to focus on advancing our values and enhancing our security."