The most debated issue on the planet right now is obviously the United States of America’s relationship with the Islamic world and Islam religion. It is purported that US president Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo University has started new age of reconciliation between Americans and Muslims. This may be true although it received mixed reviews. Some people from the Islamic world have hailed his speech as one of the most significant step in softening the hostilities between west and Islam. The relationship ,that was derailed and badly battered by Bush administration.
September 11, 2001 attack on the America’s World Trade Centre and pentagon caused the rift in the relationship with Islam. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Mr. Bush has consistently said that Islam is a religion of peace and warned against anti-Muslim prejudice. Yet he also nominated Daniel Pipes to a government institute, a scholar, who has enraged many American Muslims by suggesting that mosques are breeding grounds for militants and that Muslims in government and military positions should be given special attention as security risks. Bush policy towards Islam is basically based on the prism of Middle East politics whereas majority of the Muslims exist outside the Arab.
Former President Bush has adopted neoconservative foreign policy agenda that viewed Islamic fundamentalism as the gravest threat to national security.
”President Bush has clearly tried to make a distinction between Islam the religion and the actions of Muslim extremists,” said John L. Esposito, a professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University. ”But there’s a dissonance between what the president says and what his domestic and international policies have been.”
Former president George Bush has given several speeches on the Islam and US foreign policy towards Muslim world. But nothing has yielded good deeds instead it led to piling of foes. ”One day you get a signal from the administration that Islam is a religion of peace and of tolerance to the Muslim community,” said Omar Ahmad, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group. ”More of the time you get the other signal- the silence of the administration over comments made by evangelical Christians.”
He invaded Afghanistan pledging to decimate the terrorist outfits but he had to face a defeat instead. Iraq war was solely based on the delusion of dismantling the weapons of mass destructions. He overtly said that intelligent agency have given wrong information about the weapons of mass destructions but successfully overthrown the ruthless leader Saddam Hussein. This war has not only provoked widespread anger but has exposed the vulnerabilities in the Islam itself too. The divisions between Shia and Sunni have led to uncontrolled insurgency. Only after tripling the troop levels to millions American military is able to contain the militants. But when Obama announced pull out from Iraq, apparently violence has increased drastically.
In the middle of this entire crisis, United States is never considered to be a friend in the Islamic world due to its unbreakable bond with Israel as described by President Obama. US policy towards Israel and Palestine is always considered to be a logger head in the improvement of the relationship towards other Islamic countries. America has banned several militant groups operating from Palestine region such as Hamas, Fata. This has also provoked anger among Palestinians against US. America was widely blamed for giving tacit approval to Israel to continue its settlements in controversial regions such as Jerusalem, West Bank and Ghaza. So US always found hard to play a credible negotiator in the Middle East peace process.
Islamic Republic of Iran is another foreign policy issue for US when it comes to dealing with Islam. America says it is against any country which produces nuclear weapons. Iran however claims that it needs nuclear power to meet its energy demand. USA has overtly denied and remarked Iran is building nuclear weapons in stealth. America has used its diplomacy in UN Security Council to bring economic sanctions on Iran. This has caused strife political rivalry between the US and Iran.
Midst of these problems, Barack Obama ran a historical presidential campaign that he will seek new beginning with Islamic world once he will be elected as president. After the election, he proactively worked with his foreign policy experts and posted envoys to the Middle East to sort out the problem. Ongoing crisis in Pakistan due to the Taliban insurgency is again challenging his military as well as diplomatic power. Obama said in Ankara, United States of America will never be at war with Islam. This changed tone of US president has raised hopes that America will be a credible negotiator in the Middle East peace.
Besides that, US has changed its stand on the Israeli settlement and publicly said that Israel should stop its relentless settlements and also accept the two state solutions. Though, Israel has not heeded the US request, political analyst foresee an empowered US to force Israel to contain the settlements. American president Obama’s speech in the Cairo University lucidly mentioned that US will never accept violence in any form. So if Palestine really wants peace in the region, they are obliged to relinquish their violence.
US military expansion in Afghanistan has pushed the Taliban to the North West tribal region of Pakistan; this has led to increased insurgency in the region and caused instability to the current civilian government. So people of Pakistan see USA as ruthless military power which wants to kill millions of Muslims. But president Obama’s speech in Egypt clearly said he is also committed to the economic development of the Pakistan. The civilian government of Pakistan is a staunch supporter of US policy in the region; this has provoked unstopped anger in the tribal regions and urged several civilians to join the militant groups.
Barack Obama currently faces a humongous challenge in dealing with Islamic world. He has correctly defined that Islamic world is not just Arabs but also of the Muslims in other region. His background has given him an upper hand in solving some of the problem of Middle East and other regions. But USA, for longtime, has been viewed by Islamic world as a hegemonic super power which wants to crusade the Islamic countries. Obama’s changed tone may bring peace if he can at least divulge some of the rhetoric speeches into deeds. Let hopes this president will have the guts and brains to solve problem for once and forever.
Sathiya Velan Subramaniyam