Understandably, the second administration of President Barack Obama will pay more attention to Southeast Asia. However, it should not abandon the Arab and Muslim worlds. The uprising as well as the democratization process in Egypt and other Middle Eastern states are facing big challenges.

While the liberal and secular forces as well as the remnants of the old regime were not able get the confidence of the people through the ballot boxes, they are exploiting the mistakes of the Islamist forces, which came to power through sound democratic processes.

The security situation in Egypt is becoming more serious particularly in recent weeks, and violence is becoming out of control in certain areas. There is no way out except through renunciation of violence, engagement in a constructive dialogue, and allowing the people to determine their future.

As for Syria, there are signs that Russia is considering changing its position, which was hindering the ability of the United Nations Security Council to deal effectively with the serious situation in that country. It is hoped that Obama can convince the Russian leadership to abandon its old policy and allow the United Nations Security Council to adopt measures to end the ongoing death and destruction in Syria.

In Iraq, there are peaceful demonstrations in Sunni Arab areas, which are now supported by an increasing number of Shiite and Kurdish political groups as well as ordinary people against the sectarian policies of the Iraqi government.


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The demonstrators are demanding an immediate end to illegal detention and imprisonment as well as torture of Iraqi men and women in government prisons. The Obama administration is not making public statements on the situation in Iraq, but the United States has a special responsibility about the situation in Iraq because the previous administration led to the change in Iraq claiming democracy as a goal.

The Israeli elections might bring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back to power or Israel might face another election. However, there are signs that the Israeli public is tilting away from extremism. Even Netanyahu's confrontational postures against the United States administration in the past few years might change. But Obama cannot continue to allow Israel alone to dictate issues which are threatening the peace and security in the region. Although the Obama administration failed to convince Israel about the needed steps for peace and justice in the Holy Land, it should not block consideration by the United Nations Security Council of the steps needed to achieve peace and justice there.

The world was saddened by the terrorist attack in Algeria, and the death of innocent workers, who were there to help the Algerian people.

Last but not least, the French intervention in Mali came as result of an invitation from the government of that country. Mali used to be a peaceful country until extremists were able to occupy more one third of that country. However, there are voices inside and outside France casting doubt about the real motives behind the French intervention.

Nevertheless, the people of Mali suffered from extremists who attempted to destroy one of the old centers of human civilization in Africa. It is hoped that the Obama administration will assist the people of Mali and insist on a more active role of the United Nations to establish a decent democratic system of government, to ensure speedy withdrawal of French troops from Mali, to prevent revenge killings including those who out of fear cooperated with the extremists, and restore peace in the sub-Saharan region.

Amer Araim is an adjunct professor of political science at Diablo Valley College, and a former Iraqi diplomat. He is a resident of Walnut Creek.