Hamas Praises Obama; Hopes for ‘New Page’ in Relations with U.S.

syria-prez-obama-hezbollah.jpgHamas strongman Mahmoud Zahar says he hopes the
election victory of Barack Obama will open a new page in relations
between the U.S. and the Muslim world.


However, Zahar says he does not expect immediate
change in U.S policy toward Hamas. The Bush administration is
boycotting the Islamic militants, along with most of the international
community.

Hamas refuses to renounce violence or recognize Israel. Last year, Hamas seized Gaza by force, and Zahar was instrumental in the takeover.

He said Friday that “we hope, we hope, that Obama
opens a new page with the world, including the Muslim world.” But
citing what he believes is undue Israeli influence on U.S. policy, he
said he doesn’t expect Obama to talk to Hamas, at least at the start of
his presidency.

Meanwhile, a Syrian analyst on Friday said Syria would be prepared
to restrain the militant activities of Hezbollah and Hamas if a U.S.
administration led by President-elect Barack Obama shifts its policy
toward Damascus.

In an article published on Friday on the Asia Times Web site,
Syrian analyst Sami Mubayed called on Obama to endorse the renewed
peace talks with Israel to ensure their success.

Mubayed, whose analyses are considered the official standpoint of
the Syrian government, urged Obama to “normalize” relations between
Washington and Damascus.

Such “normalization” of ties would include dispatching a new U.S.
ambassador to Damascus, the first since the deterioration of the
states’ ties in 2005.

Syria would also demand that the economic sanctions against it be
dropped, a change in Western rhetoric toward Damascus and compensation
for the recent deadly U.S. air strike in which eight Syrians were
killed.

Damascus also seeks a further role in matters regarding Iraq.
“Obama must recognize that no problem can be solved in the Middle East
without Syria,” Mubayed wrote.

In exchange for U.S. implementation of these demands, Syria would
be ready to use its weight in the region against the militant
activities of Hezbollah and Hamas, and would work in tandem with
Western powers to find a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.

Mubayed said that Syria has nicknamed Obama “Abu Hussein” – in reference to the president-elect’s middle name.

“When all this is done, Syria will be ready to open its arms to Abu
Hussein and to accept him maybe as an honored guest in Damascus, as we
did with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton,” wrote Mubayad.

Source: Haaretz.com

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