'Obama most likely to improve US-ME ties'

DUBAI — American businesses in the UAE hoping to benefit from the improved relations between their country and the Middle East would do best to place what little hope there is with Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama, an expert has said.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Fri 4 Apr 2008, 9:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:45 PM

Contemporary Arab Studies Director Dr Michael Hudson said Obama was most likely to offer change on Middle East issues while examining the three top candidates for the American presidency at a roundtable hosted by the American Business Council (ABC) of Dubai and the Northern Emirates yesterday.

Hudson couched his analysis by commenting that the US position and reputation in the Middle East were in a free fall but while the candidates' views on prominent topics had received some attention, their general views towards the region were unclear.

Hudson said Republican Party presidential nominee John McCain's stance suggested he came across as a "linear descendent of George W. Bush" and cited a quote from the nominee: "So long as we succeed in Iraq and I believe we can, we must succeed".

"McCain has forthrightly insisted we did the right thing in going into Iraq, we messed it up after we conquered the place, but we have to stay there," Hudson said.

He said Democrat Hillary Clinton's stance on Iraq, while vague with phrases including "We must withdraw from Iraq in a way that brings troops home safely", was similar.

"I would expect a dramatic withdrawal.. probably quite the contrary," Hudson said.

Hudson said Clinton, especially as a New York senator, "wants to put no space between her and the most fervent supporters of Israel".

Hudson noted the difference in Obama's outlining of a specific policy for withdrawal including "One to two combat brigades withdrawn each month and all out within 16 months".

"Obama stands for quite a different stand of politics then we've had before," he said.

However, he questioned whether the change promised by Obama's campaign was genuine.

"It is on the question of Palestine-Israel that analysts have noticed the most difference," Hudson stated.

He cited a comment Obama made recognising the suffering of Palestinians, but noted Obama later backtracked when political and media furore broke out.

"There is a very significant bloc that hinges on the strength of candidates' support of Israel," Hudson said.

"None of the three candidates is offering anything decisively new on the different positions on the Middle East issues."

Hudson concluded that little was likely to change in America's position on Middle East issues, that America's reputation would remain poor and "military presence significant to the point of overstretched".

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