President Barack Obama has finally delivered his much anticipated speech on the Middle East. The highlight remained his endorsement of the settlement of Israel-Palestine conflict based on 1967 borders. This comes after two-and-a-half years of vacillating between different proposals and doing practically nothing. His speech included a drubbing of the Gaddafi regime but he turned to calculated criticism when it came to Syria and Iran.
His speech, however, fell short of expectations on two major issues.
He said on Syria,
President Assad now has a choice: he can lead that transition, or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests; release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests; allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara'a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition.
Seriously, Mr. President? Are you still banking your hopes on Assad? It is like setting the wolf to guard the sheep. You could have chosen better words when hundreds have been brutally murdered by the dynastic dictator. What about Rifaat, Bashar's uncle and the perpetrator of the Hama massacre of 1982, who is living a luxurious life in Spain? An indictment by the International Criminal Court should have been in the works by now.
Obama's take on Afghanistan,
In Afghanistan, we have broken the Taliban's momentum, and this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue transition to Afghan lead. And after years of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, we have dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader -- Osama bin Laden.
A positive move indeed. But what about Pakistan? You did not even mention the country this time. There has been much discussion about the alleged double-dealing of the Pakistani army and the proposals to cut U.S. aid. It would have been better if you have spoken a few words about your future policy.
Here's hoping that your next speech will be more elaborate and cognizant of people's aspirations.