On Tuesday, President Barack Obama granted his first sit-down network TV interview to the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya network—the erstwhile CNN of the Middle East. As Al-Jazeera (the FOX News of the Middle East?) reflects on the reasons why it got scooped by its counterpart, viewers across the Middle East will evaluate Obama as he tries to lay out what his administration might mean for them.
Al-Arabiya broadcasts reach a large segment of the Arab world, and the network provides internet news in Arabic and English, as well as Farsi and Urdu—languages whose speakers represent a broad and important audience for Obama as he makes his first foray at engagement in the region.
Consistent with his inaugural address, in which Obama stated, “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” in the interview, Obama noted that “we’re not going to wait until the end of my administration to deal with the Palestinian and Israeli peace, we’re going to start now.” And in a broad outline that should give hopeful Arab and Muslim moderates food for thought, he put his own ecumenical spin on foreign relations, reflecting that “what I’ve come to understand is that regardless of your faith, people all have certain common hopes and common dreams.”
This isn’t exactly breaking news in terms of U.S. foreign policy, but The Buzz notes that Obama has already talked more directly with the people of the Middle East in one week than the previous president did in eight years.