Image 1 of 9: Obama had a dream: The infamous speech to the Muslim world delivered from Cairo in 2009 came to represent the new President's 'dream' for a better understanding between America and the Middle East: "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the US & Muslims around the world." Or simply put: Muslims, Americans are not your enemy.
Image 1 of 9: The pull-out of US troops ended December 2011. After dawdling on dates- they went all out-- literally - leaving Iraq in a huff, with no proof of the country being "a better place" since their controversial arrival a decade ago. In the heat of the Arab Spring, the timing couldn't have been better for the US to leave Arabs to get on with it.
Image 1 of 9: Tomatoes came to the Arab countries from the new world via Italy some centuries ago, but it seems that the funky fruits were going the other way this time. Spared the indignity of the shoes thrown at George W Bush in Baghdad, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did receive a pizza sauce-in-the-making on her first visit to a Morsi-ruled Cairo.
Image 1 of 9: Republican forerunner for US President 2012, Mitt Romney, has not ingratiated himself with the Muslim world from the get-go: He killed any hope of charming Muslims when he descended on Israel and named Jerusalem (home to Islam's holiest sites) the capital of Israel in a move that left little doubt whose side of the Arab/Israeli fence he sat on.
Image 1 of 9: Obama says no to Benjamin Netanyahu's settlement habit: Obama in a move quite unusual for American Presidents urged Netanyahu to freeze Jewish settlement building. This left relations between best friends US and Israel a little frosty
and in need of some damage repair. A point scored for US-Muslim relations?
Image 1 of 9: Big bummer for Arabs’s Uncle Sam: The embassy attacks on US missions in Yemen, Libya and Egypt, as well as more heated protests further afield--with US soldiers in Afghanistan killed by Afghan colleagues--underscore how naive Obama's original bid to win over hearts and minds may have been. A US military presence remains in all of these countries.
Image 1 of 9: 'UN says no' doesn't wash with blood-bathing Syrians, left to the lions. Unlike Iraq or Libya, no intervention leaves Arabs feeling neglected given the American tendency to intervene. Syria's revolution cannot be ignored, and anger is fomenting that the US can stand by while Muslims die. It's lose-lose as the Muslim world refuses another Iraq.
Image 1 of 9: No hard feelings? Sore sentiments stirred between Islam & the US or even rehashed wounds in Libya's history were redressed by this pro-US rally against extremists. Fortunately for the Muslim-American rift, Libyans were quick to say 'not in our name' to both America & the thugs who killed their ambassador, and to make clear USA was not the enemy.
Image 1 of 9: Empowered Muslims take on the old enemy: In a neat mirror of Obama in Cairo, this week saw Morsi in New York give an interview that looked more dictating than kowtowing. Morsi allowed Obama no room for interference in his democratically elected and run mandate. Leaving us wondering, has the Arab Spring upset the power balance?
Obama began his presidency with a rousing and incredibly well-received speech in Cairo, aiming to win over the "hearts and minds"--interestingly a military coinage born during Britain's colonization of Aden--of the world's hundreds and millions of Muslims.
"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.” He came and saw, but did he conquer?
Cracks showed at the home of Obama's new dawn with majoity Muslim countries when Hilary Clinton got the tomato treatment in Cairo:
vegetables and shoes were flung at the US Secretary of State’s motorcade during her first visit to Egypt since the election of Islamist President Morsi. It seemed people could not forget how friendly the US had been with Mubarak. Now for one thing, the Arab Spring presents the Americans with a different kettle of fish than their safe and comfortable 'brothers' in Arabia, Mubarak and Gaddafi. Today the US supreme power status looks once again under threat - and this time it's empowered (and Muslim) Arabs that 'can do'.
As anti-American riots burnt from Benghazi to Kabul, Obama's optimism looks distinctly misplaced.
Here, we trace the relationship since the Cairo speech that captured the world's imagination and set out the stall for the fresh-faced newly inaugurated President to make friends with Muslims, up until the anti-American riots of September 11, 2012.
The attacks seem to have been timed for the 9/11 anniversary. Obama after all successfully executed the capture and killing of notorious September Elevener Osama Bin Laden.
What do you think? Can you feel a palpable difference in the relationship between the majority Muslim lands and the United States or is just the same continuum since 9/11 or indeed since Arab-Israel divides.