Skip to comments.Transcript of B. Hussein Obama Interview with Al Arabiya
Posted on 01/26/2009 9:49:25 PM PST by kristinn
AL ARABIYA: Mr. President, thank you for this opportunity, we really appreciate it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much.
AL ARABIYA: Sir, you just met with your personal envoy to the Middle East, Senator Mitchell. Obviously, his first task is to consolidate the cease-fire. But beyond that you've been saying that you want to pursue actively and aggressively peacemaking between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Tell us a little bit about how do you see your personal role, because, you know, if the President of the United States is not involved, nothing happens as the history of peacemaking shows. Will you be proposing ideas, pitching proposals, parameters, as one of your predecessors did? Or just urging the parties to come up with their own resolutions, as your immediate predecessor did?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think the most important thing is for the United States to get engaged right away. And George Mitchell is somebody of enormous stature. He is one of the few people who have international experience brokering peace deals.
And so what I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating -- in the past on some of these issues -- and we don't always know all the factors that are involved. So let's listen. He's going to be speaking to all the major parties involved. And he will then report back to me. From there we will formulate a specific response.
Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it's time to return to the negotiating table.
And it's going to be difficult, it's going to take time. I don't want to prejudge many of these issues, and I want to make sure that expectations are not raised so that we think that this is going to be resolved in a few months. But if we start the steady progress on these issues, I'm absolutely confident that the United States working in tandem with the European Union, with Russia, with all the Arab states in the region -- I'm absolutely certain that we can make significant progress.
AL ARABIYA: You've been saying essentially that we should not look at these issues -- like the Palestinian-Israeli track and separation from the border region -- you've been talking about a kind of holistic approach to the region. Are we expecting a different paradigm in the sense that in the past one of the critiques -- at least from the Arab side, the Muslim side -- is that everything the Americans always tested with the Israelis, if it works. Now there is an Arab peace plan, there is a regional aspect to it. And you've indicated that. Would there be any shift, a paradigm shift?
Watch the second segment of the Al Arabiya interview below.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, here's what I think is important. Look at the proposal that was put forth by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
AL ARABIYA: Right.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage
AL ARABIYA: Absolutely.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: to put forward something that is as significant as that. I think that there are ideas across the region of how we might pursue peace.
I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what's happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan. These things are interrelated. And what I've said, and I think Hillary Clinton has expressed this in her confirmation, is that if we are looking at the region as a whole and communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world, that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think that we can make significant progress.
Now, Israel is a strong ally of the United States. They will not stop being a strong ally of the United States. And I will continue to believe that Israel's security is paramount. But I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side.
And so what we want to do is to listen, set aside some of the preconceptions that have existed and have built up over the last several years. And I think if we do that, then there's a possibility at least of achieving some breakthroughs.
AL ARABIYA: I want to ask you about the broader Muslim world, but let me one final thing about the Palestinian-Israeli theater. There are many Palestinians and Israelis who are very frustrated now with the current conditions and they are losing hope, they are disillusioned, and they believe that time is running out on the two-state solution because -- mainly because of the settlement activities in Palestinian-occupied territories. Will it still be possible to see a Palestinian state and you know the contours of it within the first Obama administration?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think it is possible for us to see a Palestinian state -- I'm not going to put a time frame on it -- that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life.
And, look, I think anybody who has studied the region recognizes that the situation for the ordinary Palestinian in many cases has not improved. And the bottom line in all these talks and all these conversations is, is a child in the Palestinian Territories going to be better off? Do they have a future for themselves? And is the child in Israel going to feel confident about his or her safety and security? And if we can keep our focus on making their lives better and look forward, and not simply think about all the conflicts and tragedies of the past, then I think that we have an opportunity to make real progress.
But it is not going to be easy, and that's why we've got George Mitchell going there. This is somebody with extraordinary patience as well as extraordinary skill, and that's what's going to be necessary.
AL ARABIYA: Absolutely. Let me take a broader look at the whole region. You are planning to address the Muslim world in your first 100 days from a Muslim capital. And everybody is speculating about the capital. (Laughter.) If you have anything further, that would be great.
How concerned are you because, let me tell you, honestly, when I see certain things about America in some parts, I don't want to exaggerate there is a demonization of America.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Absolutely.
AL ARABIYA: It's become like a new religion, and like a new religion it has new converts -- like a new religion has its own high priests.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.
AL ARABIYA:It's only a religious text.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.
AL ARABIYA: And in the last since 9/11 and because of Iraq, that alienation is wider between the Americans and -- and in generations past, the United States was held high. It was the only Western power with no colonial legacy.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.
AL ARABIYA: How concerned are you and because people sense that you have a different political discourse. And I think, judging by (inaudible) and Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden and all these, you know a chorus.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, I noticed this. They seem nervous.
AL ARABIYA: They seem very nervous, exactly. Now, tell me why they should be more nervous?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think that when you look at the rhetoric that they've been using against me before I even took office .
AL ARABIYA:I know, I know.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: what that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt. There's no actions that they've taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.
In my inauguration speech, I spoke about: You will be judged on what you've built, not what you've destroyed. And what they've been doing is destroying things. And over time, I think the Muslim world has recognized that that path is leading no place, except more death and destruction.
Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.
AL ARABIYA:The largest one.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The largest one, Indonesia. And so what I want to communicate is the fact that in all my travels throughout the Muslim world, what I've come to understand is that regardless of your faith and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers regardless of your faith, people all have certain common hopes and common dreams.
And my job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task.
But ultimately, people are going to judge me not by my words but by my actions and my administration's actions. And I think that what you will see over the next several years is that I'm not going to agree with everything that some Muslim leader may say, or what's on a television station in the Arab world -- but I think that what you'll see is somebody who is listening, who is respectful, and who is trying to promote the interests not just of the United States, but also ordinary people who right now are suffering from poverty and a lack of opportunity. I want to make sure that I'm speaking to them, as well.
AL ARABIYA: Tell me, time is running out, any decision on from where you will be visiting the Muslim world?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I'm not going to break the news right here.
AL ARABIYA: Afghanistan?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: But maybe next time. But it is something that is going to be important. I want people to recognize, though, that we are going to be making a series of initiatives. Sending George Mitchell to the Middle East is fulfilling my campaign promise that we're not going to wait until the end of my administration to deal with Palestinian and Israeli peace, we're going to start now. It may take a long time to do, but we're going to do it now. We're going to follow through on our commitment for me to address the Muslim world from a Muslim capital. We are going to follow through on many of my commitments to do a more effective job of reaching out, listening, as well as speaking to the Muslim world.
And you're going to see me following through with dealing with a drawdown of troops in Iraq, so that Iraqis can start taking more responsibility. And finally, I think you've already seen a commitment, in terms of closing Guantanamo, and making clear that even as we are decisive in going after terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians, that we're going to do so on our terms, and we're going to do so respecting the rule of law that I think makes America great.
AL ARABIYA: President Bush framed the war on terror conceptually in a way that was very broad, "war on terror," and used sometimes certain terminology that the many people -- Islamic fascism. You've always framed it in a different way, specifically against one group called al Qaeda and their collaborators. And is this one way of
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that you're making a very important point. And that is that the language we use matters. And what we need to understand is, is that there are extremist organizations whether Muslim or any other faith in the past that will use faith as a justification for violence. We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith's name.
And so you will I think see our administration be very clear in distinguishing between organizations like al Qaeda that espouse violence, espouse terror and act on it and people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop. We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down.
But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.
AL ARABIYA:Can I end with a question on Iran and Iraq then quickly?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's up to the team
AL ARABIYA: Will the United States ever live with a nuclear Iran? And if not, how far are you going in the direction of preventing it?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I said during the campaign that it is very important for us to make sure that we are using all the tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran.
Now, the Iranian people are a great people, and Persian civilization is a great civilization. Iran has acted in ways that's not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region: their threats against Israel; their pursuit of a nuclear weapon which could potentially set off an arms race in the region that would make everybody less safe; their support of terrorist organizations in the past none of these things have been helpful.
But I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.
i like (/s) the part where obama says the israelis have to sacrifice, but the arabs only have to provide the time is right.
Helen Thomas to Obama thru Al Arabiya.
“What about the juoos?”
Nully: Do you mean will a nuclear Iran try to destroy America? Absolutely, if it is not utterly destroyed first...
Notice the difference in the two front pages, please. Thanks.
This is Al Arabia and this is their front page:
Here is an article about Obama:
This is the Al Arabia English and this is their front page:
Full transcript of presidents first interview on Arab TV
President Obama gives interview to Al-Arabiya
(January 27, 2009)
10 posted on January 26, 2009 10:09:11 PM PST by Cindy
do you notice how he says he lived in “muslim countries” plural?
What other muslim countries besdies Indonesia has he lived in?
He also mentions his travels throughout the muslim world?
I wouldn’t exactly count living in Jakarta when he was 7 as travelling throughout the muslim world.
I know he went to Pakistan on Spring Break in the 80s once. But again, on etrip to Pakistan isnt thoughout the muslim world. And his brief trip this summer doesn’t count either.
So, what are these muslim countries he’s lived in and when were these travels throughout the muslim world is what I want to know.
This is some sick s***, I swear. Obama is like the coy lass: you know where it’s gonna end up, no matter how long he drags it out.
i agree with your comment & it’s made me sick to my stomach.
WELL, now that i’m POTUS, I’m gonna’be KING OF THE WORLD based on my passport, ‘yeah, ‘cause I had a lotta identity problems when I was growing up
“their pursuit of a nuclear weapon which could potentially set off an arms race in the region”
So an arms race is possible Obama?
Only way that can happen is if YOU do nothing to stop them.
I think that sentence is very telling, he is content with living with a nuclear armed Iran.
He will do nothing of substance.
“There’s no actions that they’ve taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.”
I am amazed that this simplton made president. He really thinks US campaign rhetoric about education and health care is going to motivate people who dress up their children as pycho bombers? What a naive simpleton. What a disaster awaits western society.
That was what I keyed in on as well. “Now, Israel is a strong ally of the United States. They will not stop being a strong ally of the United States. And I will continue to believe that Israel’s security is paramount. But I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side.”
So just sit it out folks. Just a little while longer and we’ll get some leftist Israelis that will sell their nation out, just like I am selling my nation out.
You’ll own the both of us in time.
Obama says he wants to talk to the Arab world to get their grievances, but just Israel on the other side. So I can hear the dialogue now. Look Israel, it’s 20 nations to 1. You need to concede on these 57 points. It’s quite obvious you are the problem.
Then Obama talks of living in Islamic nations, oh yes the biggest one.
This guy is a loose canon. Big surprise huh.
it’s a world of laughter, a world or tears
its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
theres so much that we share
that its time we’re aware
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small, small world
There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small small world
Link to List of US Attorneys Offices to take criminal information on BO:
The only reason Barak Hussein spoke to them is he couldn’t get on Al Jazeera! LOL.
“and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers”
This is the SECOND time I have heard Barack Obama use this curious phrasing (the first was in his inaugural speech). It is deliberate and seems to be designed to appeal to the muslim world.
I say this because only the muslim world sees “Muslims, Jews, and Christians” as people “of the book”. ALL other faiths (including Hindus and Buddhists) are considered “non-believers” to muslims.
I find it REPUGNANT for him to continue using this classification. And the atheists and agnostics of America were blogging on January 20th that this country is “too Christian” to permit calling them anything but “non-believers”.
Such is life when your President grows up in a muslim country like Indonesia.
This kiss ass again obviously failed history.
20+ years ago Reagan was launching bombing raids on Libya and 30 years ago Iranians were holding US citizens hostage.
It was our war with Saddam that made Momar Qaddafi FINALLY agree to end his own WMD program and to seek more normalized relations with the US.
Iran’s mullahs must be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of another Jimmy Carter in office.
What are we united for? What are we united against?
Barack stepped in it.
The United Nations is not a building filled with nothing but allies.
verb (used with object)
1. to unite formally, as by treaty, league, marriage, or the like (usually fol. by with or to): Russia allied itself to France.
2. to associate or connect by some mutual relationship, as resemblance or friendship.
verb (used without object)
3. to enter into an alliance; join; unite.
4. a person, group, or nation that is associated with another or others for some common cause or purpose: Canada and the United States were allies in World War II.
5. Biology. a plant, animal, or other organism bearing an evolutionary relationship to another, often as a member of the same family: The squash is an ally of the watermelon.
6. a person who associates or cooperates with another; supporter.
12501300; ME alien < AF al(l)ier, aillaier, OF alier < L alligāre to bind to. See alloy
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.