A lingering doubt about Barack Hussein Obama
since he made his bid for office of the
president of the United States has been
whether he is a closet Muslim or not. Some
Muslims fondly believed that he would reveal
his Muslim loyalties after inauguration.
However, close analyses made by many
reputed political analysts have been that
Obama is a Christian and has no allegiance
to the Islamic faith even though his father
had been a Muslim. Obama's opinions on
various issues of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict have given positive indications
that he entertains no allegiance to the
Muslim faith, if this conflict is viewed in
terms of religion.
Anger over Gaza
Reports from Islamic countries indicate that
there is growing anger even among American
Muslims about the President Elect's pregnant
silence about the Israeli-Palestinian clash
in the Gaza strip. Obama has been holidaying
in Hawaii and his spokesmen have been
warding off queries saying that 'There can
be only one president at a time and till
January 20 it is President George Bush.'
His critics point out that while Obama can
maintain silence or offer some comments on
the terrorist attacks on Mumbai where 175
people were killed, the issue of the bombing
of the Gaza strip which has resulted in
around 400 being killed by Friday and around
1800 being injured, is vastly different.
President George W. Bush in his eight years
in office had followed a markedly
pro-Israeli line. There was speculation that
contrary to the Republican neo-conservative
Bush, Obama's policies would be more liberal
For whatever reasons almost the whole
Islamic world thought so and were jubilant
at Obama's victory. Most countries of the
Third World too were of the same opinion.
But now it appears that even before he
becomes the president, his global popularity
may wane, at least in some countries.
Obama's pro-Israeli stance was quite evident
in the statements made during the election
campaign. In his address to the
American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee
soon after he won nomination of the
Democratic Party ticket, he even went to the
extent of supporting the idea of Jerusalem
being made the capital of Israel in
implementing the 'two state proposal.'
During his Middle East tour last year he
directly backed Israel on the issue of Hamas'
rocket attacks on
He is on record saying 'In view of the
special relationship of America with Israel,
America is obliged to help Israel in search
for a credible peace while also supporting
Israel in defending itself against enemies
sworn to its destruction.'
On the issue of a nuclear armed Iran, he
has said that under no circumstances could
Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
Instead of taking on Iran militarily he has
advocated 'sustained aggressive diplomacy
combined with tough sanctions.'
The choice of his cabinet members leaves no
illusions about his pro-Israeli leanings.
The White House Chief is Rahm Emmanuel, a
Jew, who is described as a 'forceful
proponent of Israeli policies' while Gen.
James Jones, the National Security Adviser
too is identified as being pro-Israeli.
Most important of all is the choice of
Hillary Clinton as Foreign Secretary -
Clinton the New York Senator is turning out
to be strongly pro-Israel after her initial
flirtation with the Palestinians. During her
bid for the presidency she had made the
memorable remark 'Iran will be obliterated
if it attacked
Obama's Palestinian leanings were
identified following his close relationship
with Zbigniew Brezinski, the national
security adviser of President Jimmy Carter
and Robert Malley who was in the national
security advisory team of President Bill
It is believed by Americans that no
president could survive going against the
tide of the Jewish lobby, the most powerful
lobby in Washington. Barack Obama who has
shown remarkable qualities of pragmatism has
indicated that he will not swim against the
tide. But he will no doubt be asked to prove
his credentials as being an 'agent of
His pledges oblige him to change George W.
Bush's Middle East policies. Predictions are
that he will not be able to do a
right-about-turn as some Islamic countries
would like him to do but with Hillary
Clinton as foreign secretary the policies
may approximate to those of Bill Clinton.
This will be a bitter disappointment to
Islamists who hoped for radical changes.
The new president may gain some of the
popularity he will lose on the Palestine
issue to his troop pull out from Iraq, if
conditions permit him to do so.
Last week the
formally handed over control of Baghdad's
Green Zone (high security zone) to Iraqi
troops including Saddam Hussein's former
palace. Under the new security arrangements
between Washington and Baghdad the UN
mandate for foreign troops will go to Iraq
and Iraq will have control of US troop's
actions and the country's air space.
Pulling out US troops in Iraq within about
16 months while leaving the country secure
will be the toughest foreign assignment for
President Bush quits the White House with a
dubious honour of having the title of 'the
most unpopular American president' being
conferred on him by some Americans. It will
be food for thought to the new incumbent.