They're joyful. They're wary. They're joyfully wary and warily joyful. They love and fear change. They are the Middle East press reacting to
باراك حسين اوباما
Famously edgy columnist Tariq Alhomayeh of Asharq Alawsat tabbed Obama's electoral triumph "a great victory on an international public opinion level," and then he dressed down those Arab regimes who are belching out the "America has changed" rhetoric, asking when are you - the Arab autocracies and Islamists - going to change?
Eminent intellectual Tariq Ramadan, writing in The Star of Jordan, cautioned the Middle East that "we must not succumb to irrational hope"; hope that one man - Obama - is bigger than the American beast itself.
Ditto the Daily Star (Lebanon) editorial, which kept reminding readers that Obama is a "single mortal" (whither Michelle?) who can't undo the monstrosities of the Bush regime overnight.
An op-ed in al-Hayat called the Obama win an "end to illusion" that the so-called war on terror can be won with really big and (mostly) precise missiles.
One Ha'aretz op-ed said, with respect to the tasks facing the prez-elect, that the "American idol of today becomes tomorrow's punching bag." Another exlaimed "Yes, change here too," in reference to the coming Israeli elections.
The more conservative Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronot's main columnist was still making up his mind, noting that "Obama is black, which is bad for Israel, because we are white. But Obama is also young, which is good for Israel." (Because Israel is also young? Or because young black men are better than crotchety old white men?)
An editorial in the Egyptian Gazette noted that Obama's victory offers "a golden chance to put the Arab-U.S. ties in good shape... Obama's triumph as well as his change-oriented agenda may right a long litany of wrongs bequeathed to him by his predecessor." (There's a theme in those words common to almost all sentiments coming from Arab media.)
A Gulf News editorial exhaled that the Bush era of shock and horror will soon pass into more careful hands. It added, poignantly, that "most Arabs will pray that [Obama] not bring back to office members of Bill Clinton's Middle East team, discredited by their failure to advance the peace process and by their excessive partiality to Israel."
Hezbollah's al-Manar TV website actually had the most boring commentary on the Obama revolution. C'mon, guys!
Over in Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (speaking on Al Arabiya TV) warned the president-elect to walk softly. "We don't expect any change to happen overnight or any hasty change in U.S. policy and commitment toward Iraq." Translation: we're not sure we believe in change.
Al Jazeera first reported that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated Barack Obama on his election victory, in a statement released to the press. "The great Iranian nation welcomes real, fundamental and fair changes in America's behaviour and policies, particularly in the Middle East region," said Ahmadinejad. (Um, yeah... "fundamental" - good one.)
And last but not least, Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi called Barack Obama's election as US president a "victory for blacks in America, who were slaves but are now becoming masters." But Qaddafi also said he fears for Obama's safety, reminding us all that transformational presidents such as Honest Abe and JFK were killed for their courage. "The people who physically eliminated Abraham Lincoln... can still be found in the United States. That is why I fear for his [Obama's] safety." You mean, John Wilkes Booth is still on the lam?
Must you always be so negative, Moammar? How 'bout a little dance?