Abdwahab Adeyinka Sharafdeen
In his inaugural address, President Obama reached out to the Muslim world by saying that he seeks a new way forward “based on mutual interest and mutual respect”. He also said he would be willing to “extend a hand to those who cling to power through corruption and deceit if they are willing to unclench their fists”. Obama attempted to reach out to Arab leaders by granting his first interview to an Arab cable TV network, Al Arabiya. His visitation to Egypt in 2009 was said to have marked a new beginning in the (US) relationship with the Arab world. Obama told his aides that there are tensions between the Muslim and the West with roots from the colonial days. Oh! This is not to say that he do not have his share of contribution to the continued unrest in the middle east. Before the death of Osama bin Laden, thousands of innocent lives had been lost. The killings in states like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and even Gaza are proofs only a blind eye would claim not to see.
Despite the physical distance between the United States and the Middle East, it is a fact that US influence has been felt in every country within the region in one way or the other. For a very long time, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, the US has had global interests and reach to match. In the Middle East, the US has made itself a key player (unavoidably?) by using its diplomatic, economic and military power in support of its national interests. Power plays, national interests and the force of personality of the rulers of the respective countries usually got mixed in the boiling soup of international diplomacy; this is why the relationship between the United States and the Arab world has been like a two-sided coin with both positive and negative sides as influenced by different presidents and administrations.
The United States engage in politics across borders with a national rationale, but the ideology of her presidency has been the determining factor especially in her relationship with the Arab world. As such, different presidents in the United States had ruled, each with his own foreign policy towards the Middle East. The recent abhorrence policies of the US towards the Arabs are well noticed in the administration of the likes of President George Bush, and these have met nothing but resentment and anger towards the United States in the region and from the Muslim Ummah at large.
It is a well known foreign policy of the United States to support leaders and government it considered to be stable allies, like the Saudi royal family, Israel and even Egyptian governments since Anwar Sadat. Surely, the US has strong economic interests and assets in this region, but the determinant of its relationship with this region at any point in time is not always based solely on these factors alone; the ideology of whoever is the occupant of the White House also plays a large role in shaping the direction the breeze of US/Arab/Muslim relations will take; the dynamics of the relationship between us are strongly determined by the individuals that control the US power.
Different American presidents have come with speeches to respect Islam and the millions of American Muslims. Ironically, it is these same leaders that militarily crush Muslims and their institutions under any pretense whenever they find it convenient. No doubt, there exist Muslims with an extremist bent that will always lure trouble out of its lair rather than letting it sleep peacefully. Whatever may be, the US will continue to elects its leaders if Allah wills. And he will rule over a people united in their belief in democracy, capitalism, consumerism, war against terror etc. And we Muslims will still be around, never divided by our colour, race or geographical location; united in our belief in Allah, the Rabb of everything, who will never allow unbelievers to put out His light. Conclusively, one can safely say that the next scenarios as far as the relations between the US and Muslim/Arab world is concerned would be determined by who emerged as the next president of the United States, in the 2016 presidential election. We shall wait, we shall all be alive inshaa Allah, we shall watch another drama unfold.