Reaction to President Obama’s Cairo Speech

Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:

“His call for stopping settlement and for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and his reference to the suffering of Palestinians … is a clear message to Israel that a just peace is built on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

“President Obama’s speech is a good start and an important step towards a new American policy.” — Reuters

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum :

“It is a speech that plays on sentiment and is filled with civilities, which leads us to believe that he aimed to embellish America’s image in the world.” — AFP

Danny Seaman, director of Israel’s Government Press Office:

“All in all, it’s not bad. I don’t think there’s anything we disagree with here.

“The state of Israel isn’t against reconciliation,” he added, but warned against any moves that could “be used by the extremists to endanger Israel and endanger the peace process.” — Associated Press

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:

“The nations of this part of the world … deeply hate America because during many years they have seen violence, military interference, rights violations, discrimination … from America.

“Even if they give sweet and beautiful talks to the Muslim nation … that will not create a change.” — Reuters

Ali Al-Dabbagh, Iraqi government spokesman:

“The speech was historic and important and reflects a positive direction for the new administration (in Washington) and it is a new start.

“The use of Koranic sayings plays a big part in a positive change of picture, but there is a necessity for action.

“The government of Iraq is comfortable with the clarity of the president in respecting commitments to Iraq and the timetable for withdrawal stipulated in the security pact.”
— Reuters

Hazim Al-Nuaimi, analyst at Baghdad University:

“He gave nothing new to Iraqis. He gave one promise, to respect the rights of minorities and work with consensus. In all he says, he tries to remove himself from all that happened in Iraq.” — Reuters


Egyptian student Ingy Hassieb:

“I understand that he couldn’t portray his host country’s government in a negative light, but it’s no secret that Egypt is very much authoritarian and not democratic.” — The New York Times

Hassan Fadlallah, lawmaker For Lebanon’s Hezbollah:


“The Islamic world does not need moral or political sermons. It needs a fundamental change in American policy beginning from a halt to complete support for Israeli aggression on the region, especially on Lebanese and Palestinians, to an American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and a stop to its interference in the affairs of Islamic countries. We have not seen any change in U.S. policy towards the Palestinian cause.” — BBC


Ira Forman, chief executive of The National Jewish Democratic Council:

“The President made very clear to the Arab world that he was going to continue to prioritize Israel’s peace and security, and that the U.S. and Israel have an ‘unbreakable’ bond,” said council. — USA Today

Pakistani Political Analyst Siraj Wahab:

“Whatever wounds America has inflicted on the world, they are very deep and they cannot be erased away by only one speech. Overall the speech was positive, but let’s see whether it was merely good words or could we ever see these words be practiced.” — Associated Press

Nisar Shmed Faizee, Pakistani citizen, Islamabad:

“Good speech. It has created a lot of hope …but saying is one thing, doing is another. Now he has to deliver.” — The Guardian

Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal, Somali Insurgent Movement Al Shabaab:

“Obama’s speech is useless unless he stops his political interference with Somalia and the Muslim world.”

“If he means what he says, let him withdraw his troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop supporting AMISOM (AU peacekeeping force in Somalia) and the Somalia government.” — Reuters

Editor’s Note: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story included a quote incorrectly attributed to Egyptian student Ingy Hasseib. The story is now corrected.