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Obama's Arab 'reconnection' speech

Obama's Arab 'reconnection' speech
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Barack Obama is set to present a new US strategy for relations with the Arab world. He will try to dispel regional suspicions of American favouritism toward some, and perceptions of inconsistent responses. The president will deliver his “Arab spring” speech today from the State Department in Washington, DC.

He is expected to offer fresh aid to promote democratic change in Arab countries, in the wake of this year’s groundbreaking people’s uprisings. Israel and powerful oil friends will also be listening closely.

Haim Malka at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the US capital said: “He has to connect with people, he has to be relevant to people in the Arab world that are demanding more representative government without further alienating important US allies, most importantly in the Gulf, that are increasingly uncomfortable with the US position on the state of events in the region now.”

Obama is struggling to regain the initiative in a week of intense Middle East diplomacy. The White House has called this a “window of opportunity” in the wake of a special American military team’s killing of Osama bin Laden.

Obama is also expected to nudge allies such as Yemen and Bahrain to reform, and harden his line against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the day after Washington announced its first sanctions directly targeting Syria’s violent crackdown on democratic protests.