Barack Obama’s talks with King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia are touching on the Arab-Israeli conflict, US overtures to Iran and the global price of oil. But what people in the region are really waiting to hear from his main speech in Egypt tomorrow is if he will be able to re-build relations, so damaged under the administration of the last American president.
Dr Essam al-Erian, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood Political Committee said: ‘If he stops these foolish policies and starts to build a new bridge between America and the people, not the regimes of the Islamic world, it would be a good step. And it will take some time to achieve or change the promises from speech to actions. But we are waiting.’ At Cairo University, where he is due to make his speech, there is a feeling too that it is not only America’s reputation that could benefit. Student Ali Abdul Moneim said: ‘It is a very good step because we want to mend the image of the Islamic world in the eyes of Western society: Europe and America, who have the terrible idea that we are terrorists. That is a ridiculous idea. But with the whole world watching him, it will show that Islamic society is not backward nor ignorant.’ The speech in Cairo will fulfil a campaign promise Obama made, to give a major address to Muslims, from a Muslim capital, within his first few months as President.