Robert Fisk: Could it be al-Qa'ida is missing Bush?

Share
Related Topics

President Barack Obama was received in the Middle East with the usual grovelling Saudi plea for help in taming the Israelis and an incendiary threat from Osama bin Laden that America will pay the price for his role in displacing a million Muslim refugees in Pakistan. It wasn't difficult to see why Obama warned the world not to expect too much from his attempt to "create a better dialogue" with Muslims.

Bin Laden was probably 1,300 miles to the north of Obama when the US President landed in Riyadh yesterday for his meeting with King Abdullah but, as usual, Bin Laden's words were a good deal more direct than those of the fawning Saudis. By his support for the Pakistani army's assault on the Taliban in Waziristan, Obama had "sown new seeds of hatred against America" and was "laying the foundation for long wars ahead". With his normal flourish, Bin Laden added that he "warned the American people... that they will suffer the consequences of his actions".

Could it be, perhaps, that Bin Laden is beginning to miss old George Bush and his "war on terror", that the ever smiling Barack Obama is beginning to stick in Bin Laden's craw, that the fractional improvement in US-Arab relations is beginning to be a little irksome – or that, by some awful mischance – Obama actually might tame the colonial ambitions of Israel? Ironically it was Madeleine Albright – writing with the usual pomposity but with almost bin Laden-like directness in the New York Times – who also spotted that no Obama speech, "however eloquent, can disentangle US-Muslim relations from the treacherous terrain of current events such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan..."

The Saudis, of course, wanted to talk about the Iranian – i.e. Shiite – threat to the Sunni world as well as the refusal of Bibi Netanyahu to bow to Obama's demand for an end to the Israeli colonisation of Arab land. Indeed, there are times when the Saudis speak of Iran with almost the same hatred as Bibi. They really should meet some time, although success for the 2002 Saudi peace plan – total Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 border in return for full Arab recognition of Israel – would probably guarantee that just such a meeting took place.

Obama's speech writers will have tightened up the US President's Egyptian address for today once they discover whether King Abdullah is still as keen on the Saudis' own 2002 plan. It will no doubt be neatly slotted into the "better understanding" speech which we are going to have to listen to in Cairo today when Obama addresses that famous entity, the "Muslim world". The trouble is that the Shiite-Sunni void – to be played out again this weekend in the theatricals of the Lebanese elections – is almost as important for the Arabs as resolving the tragedy of the Palestinians.

And, of course, everyone wants to be seen hugging the new American President. Grinning over his cardamom tea with the king in Riyadh yesterday, poor Obama is going to have to endure the embrace of Hosni Mubarak in Cairo today where the government press – almost as fawning as the Saudis – have been proclaiming that Obama's reference to the Egyptian president as a "stalwart ally" of peace proves that Egypt has yet again won its place at the centre of the Arab world.

Yes, Obama did actually call the old dictator a "stalwart ally", much to the disgust of the opposition in Egypt, but that is what you have to do in this part of the world if you want to get invited back. Waiting for the President's speech is almost exquisitely painful because, like the Arabs, Washington's policies still appear hopelessly divided. While infuriating the Israelis – much to the Arabs' delight – Obama continues to send his men into the graveyard of empires to beat the Taliban, shrugging off any responsibility for those one million Pakistani Muslim refugees whom Bin Laden so shrewdly spotted on the horizon. The only real question, perhaps, is whether Obama has asked himself the most important question: does the "Muslim world" actually exist?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in the new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power