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Syria on Nobel Peace Prize: praise for reaching out

While worried about President Barack Obama's ability to revive the peace process, Syrians value US willingness to talk to Damascus.

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Syrians reacted positively to news of the award, praising President Barack Obama for reaching out to Arabs, and Syria in particular, since he came to power.

"There is a positive perception about Obama in general, and everyone here appreciates that he is trying to do something concerning the peace process between Arabs and the Israelis," says Marwan Kabalan, a Syrian political analyst.

Under the Bush presidency, US-Syrian relations were frozen as the US government accused Damascus of supporting regional terrorism and instability. In 2005, the US ambassador to Syria was withdrawn from the country and high-level ties were cut.

President Obama, however, quickly reversed this policy, sending several high-level delegations to meet with President Bashar al-Assad and announcing the return of an American ambassador.

Nonetheless, Mr. Kabalan cautioned that skepticism was rising among Syrians as Obama increasingly seems unable to implement real changes on the ground.

"In recent weeks, people have started to question his ability to push the Israelis in order to provide an environment to revive the peace process," says Kabalan, noting his inability to prevent the building of new settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The international politics behind the Nobel Peace Prize.


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