Arabs Turn Skeptical About Obama in Wake of Gaza War

Obama's silence on Israel's invasion before becoming president has made some Arabs suspicious of him.

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One major topic of discussion in the Arab world is President Barack Obama, but the discussion is heavily influenced by the Gaza war. Obama's silence on the war before his inauguration, and his vague pronouncements and lack of action since, have already caused disappointment in the Arab world. Al Jazeera reports.

Commentator Randa Takieddine, writing in Lebanon's al Hayat, reflects the hopes for Obama tenure that have been tempered by a recognition of American realpolitik:

It is time for the western world, led by the new American president, to pressure Israel to abandon settlements and its policy of occupying and repressing Palestinians. The Gaza war showed the true barbaric image of the Israeli forces, which bombed hospitals, children and civilians and reaped only a Palestinian bloodbath. Hamas is still here and has become more effective than at any previous time. It will have a role to play in the domestic Palestinian arena, through any government of national unity that is formed.

Q ad h afi to Obama: Talk to bin Laden

And in Libya, leader Muammar Qadhafi, who in the past referred to Obama as "our Kenyan brother" and urged him to act as a black African, not a white American, in his Mideast dealings, now advises him to seek dialogue with Osama bin Laden. Al Arabiya reports:

Gaddafi hailed what he called "positive signals" so far from the new Obama administration, including plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Speaking to students at Georgetown University via a satellite link-up from Libya, Gaddafi said Washington must review its approach to bin Laden, who is blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and tops the U.S. Most Wanted list. "Terrorism is a dwarf not a giant. Osama bin laden is a person who can be given a chance to reform," Gaddafi said through an interpreter. He gave no indication that he had any contact with bin Laden or wanted to act as a go-between.

Iraq gets ready for Obama and elections

While Obama has pledged to pull combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months, the Iraqi government is gearing up for the possibility that the withdrawal could come even sooner—and offering assurances that it will be ready. Iraq Updates, a compilation of national news, reports:

Iraq is willing to have the U.S. withdraw all its troops and assume security for the country before the end of 2011, the departure date agreed to by former President George W. Bush, the spokesman of the Iraqi prime minister said.

Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh made the comment Tuesday, a day before President Barack Obama and his senior commanders were to meet in Washington to discuss the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The government-owned newspaper Al-Sabah reported Wednesday that Iraqi authorities have drafted contingency plans in case Obama orders a "sudden" withdrawal of all forces and not just combat troops.

And with crucial provincial elections coming up on January 31, bombs are going off in various parts of the country. Al Jazeera reports:

A series of blasts across Iraq have killed five people and injured at least 14 others.

Tuesday's attacks were carried out in Baghdad, Mosul and al-Zubair, which lies near the oil-rich southern city of Basra, police sources said.

Three civilians were killed and eight others injured after a car bomb targeting a US patrol exploded in the central Baghdad district of Mansour.