by Wael Naguib, Muhammad Yamany
CAIRO, June 1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's Cairo speech will give another push to the image of the United States, which has improved relatively in the whole world compared with that during the U.S. President George W. Bush administration, said an senior expert at a Cairo-based think tank.
"In fact, the relations during Bush era between Muslim world and the United States were more strained and ambiguous as the administration was dealing with Muslim world in a tough way," saidDr. Hassan Abu Taleb, a senior political analyst and deputy chief of the Al-Ahram Center for political and Strategic Studies.
"However, Barack Obama tries to propose alternatives and solutions based on the dialogue between the two sides in an effort to improve that tarnished image," Dr. Hassan told Xinhua in an interview last week.
Obama is scheduled to visit Egypt on Thursday so as to deliver a long-anticipated speech about U.S. policy towards the Muslim world after visiting Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for talks with King Abdullah on the Middle East peace process, Iran's nuclear program and terrorism.
"As much as Obama presents initiatives based on partnership and dialogue, based also on the concept that the United States would change its policy towards the Muslim world, this will help improve relations between the United States and the Muslim and Arab world," Abu Taleb said.
"But there might be some differences between Arabs and the United States, while Arabs must bear in mind that the United States is a superpower and it has a lot of interests in the world," he added.
Following a summit with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in the White House last Thursday, Obama said, "I am confident that we can move this process forward, if all the parties are willing to take on the responsibilities and meet the obligations that they've already been committed to," highlighting his belief in the two-state solution.
Obama has also urged Israel to stop settlements in the West Bank without exceptions.
"Improvement has already taken place although it is partial," Abu Taleb stressed.
The new administration led by Obama is trying to get closer to the Islamic world and attempts have been made to express a common approach towards the Muslim world.
Earlier in April, Obama said in Ankara that his country "is not and will never be at war with Islam," which is lauded by Cairo as the "first and significant" step for easing the tensions between the United States and the Muslim world.
"Obama has said many times that he has positive view towards the Islamic world, and he wanted to cooperate with the Muslims and reach agreement for any differences with them through dialogue," Abu Taleb said.
As for Obama's choice of Egypt to deliver his speech, Abu Taleb said, "Obama picked Egypt to deliver his speech to the Muslim world because Egypt is the most important country in the Middle East and it has a very prominent role in pushing peace process."
"They chose Cairo University as it represents one of the most important cultural and educational minarets in Egypt and the Arab world," he said.
Some people said that Obama's speech in Turkey was aimed at the Muslim world but Abu Taleb argued that "neither the U.S. administration nor Turkish government said so, the visit was a part of his tour to the European countries."
"If we look at his speech in Turkey, we would see that Obama regarded Turkey as a close ally in the NATO," he added.
Asked about the main points Obama would talk about in his keynote speech, Abu Taleb said that Obama would focus on the relationship between United States and the Muslims as he has realized that the Muslim world has been marginalized by Bush's "war on terror."
"Obama wants to assert that the United States has now a different approach and can fill the gap between the West and the Arabs," said Abu Taleb.
"As the peace process and the conflicts between Arabs and Israelis are the most important issues that Muslims around the world care about, Obama would lay an emphasis on the U.S. commitment to establishing peace between Palestinians and Israelis," Abu Taleb stressed.