- By Marc Lynch
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and of the Project on Middle East Political Science. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is the author of The Arab Uprising (March 2012, PublicAffairs).
He publishes frequently on the politics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Arab media and information technology, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Islamist movements.
On his first day in office, Barack Obama placed calls to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan’s King Abdullah, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent"
Hosni Mubarak — whose regime has spent the last several years locking up Ayman Nour for challenging him in the Presidential election, brutally cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood for the sin of competing in Parliamentary elections, disciplining independent judges who tried to oversee elections, extending Emergency Law, harassing bloggers, torturing and beating political activists, and indicting independent journalists — no doubt warmly welcomed the discussion of how it felt to "know that you are on the wrong side of history."
Oh, they didn’t talk about that? Pity. At least immediately engaging on Gaza is a good first step.
One other thing: everyone in the region will immediately notice that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah was not on the list. Especially the Saudis. Obama also skipped Saudi Arabia during his trip to the Middle East in July — which was also noticed. In each case, I’m sure that there were very good reasons: in July, no doubt time was tight and he couldn’t go everywhere; today, he no doubt wanted to touch base with the front-line states to demonstrate his commitment to engaging with the Gaza crisis. But these sorts of perceived slights add up quickly, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see something a bit nasty about Obama (but seemingly unrelated) come up in one of the Saudi media outlets in the next few days.