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Arabs losing hope in Obama's ability to broker Mideast peace

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So far, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defied Washington's demand, though senior US officials have indicated that an agreement is forthcoming.

"Netanyahu has made it clear from the very start that he's not interested in peace," says Sami Moubayed, a political analyst in the Syrian capital, Damascus. "It shows you exactly what the Syrians have been saying for the last three or four months: There is no peace partner today. People thought Barack Obama would have enough clout to force Netanyahu to change his attitude, but there's only so much Obama can do."

Saudis also express doubt that Obama will succeed.

"We think Obama maybe came at the wrong time [because], unfortunately, with the current Israeli government, we think there is no hope to make any progress," says one senior civil servant who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak on the matter. 

Mr. Rasheed, the Saudi businessman, points out that when Netanyahu visited the White House in May, "he basically told Obama to get lost. So now, what is the president of the United States going to do?"

He notes that many of Obama's close Mideast advisers are considered pro-Israeli – a point echoed by Zaim Abdullah, an unemployed recent graduate of Sanaa University in Yemen, who argues that Obama is so sympathetic to the Jewish perspective that he practically shares their religion. But Mr. Abdullah also criticizes Arabs.

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