Middle East eyes impetus, changes in Obama's new term

2012-11-08 01:04:47 GMT2012-11-08 09:04:47(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

CAIRO, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- After Barack Obama's victory over challenger Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday, Middle East countries are pinning hope on the Democrat's another four year in the White House, while some asking him to make changes on issues towards the region.

As a close ally, Israel on Wednesday congratulated Obama shortly after his re-election.

"The strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "I will continue to work with President Obama to assure the interests that are vital to the security of the citizens of Israel."

His remarks came against a backdrop of perceived support for Romney during the campaign, culminating with a visit by the Massachusetts governor to Israel in late July. Yet Netanyahu's office and supporters have stridently denied allegations of interference in the American political process.

Ehud Barak, the defense minister, meanwhile said he had "no doubt that the Obama administration will continue its policy -- whereby Israel's security is at its very foundations -- as well as its efforts to tackle the challenges facing all of us in the region; all the while continuing to strive for further progress in the peace process."

Meanwhile, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank and Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, expressed hopes that re-elected Obama would change his policy in the Middle East.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Obama "has to continue his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East," while Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Xinhua that the Palestinians hope Obama would help within the coming four years in implementing the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

"We hope that the United States would regulate the situation in the coming era of Obama in accordance to the system of its interests and conceive that democracy, peace or security in the region can't be achieved before ending the Israeli occupation and give the Palestinians their rights," said Erekat.

Over the past four years, the Palestinians blamed Obama for not exerting enough pressure on Israel to stop its settlement activities on the occupied territories, though he asked Israel to do so when he was first elected as the U.S. top man in 2008.

In the meantime, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said "changes in the mood of Arab and Islamic nations towards the United States is linked to returning the political balance of the American foreign policy towards the questions of the region."

"Hamas movement calls on Obama to re-evaluate the foreign policies towards the Palestinian and Arab questions and end his biased stance towards the occupation," said Abu Zuhri.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, during the day, also sent a congratulatory telegram to Obama, expressing his wishes to reinforce the friendship between Egypt and the United States to achieve their common goals, justice and peace.

Obama visited Egypt in his first presidential term in June 2009, and called for a new beginning between the United States and the Muslim world.

Also in Cairo, where the Arab League headquarters is based, Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said "History proved U.S. president in the second term is capable of achieving hard missions and taking major responsibilities."

Al-Arabi stressed that maintaining security and peace in the Middle East region is important for American people.

In Yemen, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who came into office under a U.S.-led peaceful power transfer deal earlier this year after the stepping down of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, also hailed Obama's re-election.

He said he looks forward to cooperating in counter-terrorism with Obama in the future, commending "the anti-terror achievements in Yemen with the help of the U.S. administration during Obama's presidential term."

In Iraq, meanwhile, President Jalal Talabani expressed his hope that "the next four years will see further development and expansion in the friendly relations that link the United States and Iraq." Also, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a congratulatory letter that Obama's re-election "will strengthen the approach of dialogue and moderation for solving international problems, and will boost resolute in confronting extremism, violence and terrorism, in a way that would help achieve security and stability in the region and the world."

Sudan, for its part, expressed hope that Obama's second term in office would open a new page in the relations between Khartoum and Washington.

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry said that Sudan is ready for a serious dialogue "to resolve the issues of difference between Khartoum and Washington." The top issues to be discussed are " removing Sudan's name from the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism, and lifting the unjust economic embargo being unilaterally imposed on Sudan," it said in a statement.

As Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki hoped for new impetus from Obama to advance the Tunisian-U.S. ties, his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman put more emphasis on Obama's efforts to help resolve crises in the Middle East, with a view to stop the ongoing violence in the region.

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