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Middle East leaders look for new ideas from Obama

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Middle East leaders look for new ideas from Obama


Barack Obama’s election victory has drawn a mixed reaction across the Middle East, where many expressed the hope of a new White House policy towards the region.

There is hostility towards the Bush administration over the war in Iraq and a perceived bias towards Israel in peacemaking with the Palestinians.

Former Syrian minister Mahdi Dakhlallah said he believes Obama’s triumph will generate a positive atmosphere. But he added he expects US policy to remain broadly the same.

The leader of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said he hoped Obama would take the same attitude to Middle East affairs as he has promised to bring to domestic American politics: “The motor of president-elect Obama is to change, change, that is what we all need, change in the direction of foreign policy, change in the direction of the way policy was conducted in the Middle East.”

The election was also closely followed in Iran, a country once branded part of an “axis of evil” by US President George W. Bush. One Iranian analyst said he believed Tehran would not be happy with a Democrat in the White House.

“At the moment radicals are running the government in the country, and radicals like to have crisis much more than silence and a quiet situation,” said Saeed Laylaz. But he added the Iranian people may be happier with the outcome.

People in Iraq will also be eagerly waiting to see if Obama fulfills one of his main campaign pledges – the early withdrawal of American troops from the country.

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