Obama’s Middle East policy under scrutiny in Qatar

April 26, 2010

US President Barack Obama’s policies in the Middle East will be the subject of an intense debate in Doha. Participants in the Doha Debates, led by international media professionals, will on Monday discuss the motion that “Barack Obama is too weak to make peace in the Middle East.” The subject was selected after Israel had rejected Obama’s call for a total freeze on settlement building, organizers said.

Tim Sebastian, the debates’ chairman, said that much of the euphoria surrounding Obama’s election had worn off in the region and there were legitimate questions about whether he had the authority to succeed where other US leaders had failed.

“I think many people wanted to believe that Obama could walk on water – and maybe he too, overestimated his powers of persuasion,” said Sebastien. “But the fact is that a year into his administration, people are fearing a fresh conflict in the Middle East, rather than looking forward to the kind of peaceful solution he had promised to work for. We urgently need the debate about whether or not he can deliver.”

Speaking for the motion is Dr Ahmad Moussalli, a professor at the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration at the American University of Beirut and an author. He specialises in international relations, contemporary Islamic movements, political Islam and East-West relations. With him is Philip Weiss, an investigative journalist who has worked in mainstream journalism including as a contributing writer for Harper’s magazine, Esquire magazine, and the New York Times Magazine. He is the founder of the website, Mondoweiss that focuses on Israel-Palestine and on Jewish identity issues. Opposing the motion will be Roger Cohen, a columnist for The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune and author. Joining him is Sami Abu Roza, a political analyst and formerly an economic and policy adviser in the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Investment Fund.


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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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