Barack Obama’s lack of progress in delivering on his historic 2009 Cairo address has led to more despair in the Middle East, according to Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.
“In his speech in Cairo, he sparked great hopes of peace in this region,” Assad told the mass circulation Bild daily in an interview conducted in Damascus. “But when you raise hopes without producing results, the opposite is the effect – it just leads to more despair.”
In a landmark June, 2009, speech at Cairo University, aimed at the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, Mr Obama had vowed to forge a “new beginning” for Islam and America and promised to purge years of “suspicion and discord.”
He also laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy, pledging to end mistrust, create a state for Palestinians and defuse a nuclear showdown with Iran.
Mr Assad said the US President seemed “honest in his intentions so far, but we are looking for results, not for intentions.”
Earlier this month, the Obama administration admitted defeat in its efforts to secure an Israeli freeze on settlement building, effectively signalling the end of direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The 27-nation European Union is part of the Quartet of international mediators in the Middle East – with the United States, the United Nations and Russia – but Assad said the bloc carried little weight.
“So far only French President (Nicolas) Sarkozy has made any effort in the peace process,” he said.