Cablegate: Tunisian Reactions to President Obama's Nobel


DE RUEHTU #0759 2861716
P 131716Z OCT 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.


1. (SBU) Official and unofficial Tunisian reactions to the
award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama reflected
in varying levels surprise, satisfaction, and hints of
indignation, with some commentary strongly questioning the
award as preliminary. A senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs
official told the Ambassador on October 13 that the prize was
well deserved and "an inspiration for all of us."

2. (SBU) An editorial in the government controlled press said
the Nobel Committee had rewarded the President for his
intentions rather than his deeds. Reactions from the public,
posted on the Embassy's Facebook page, were mostly
congratulatory but a number also urged the President to
"bring peace and justice to Palestine." End summary.

Official and Semi-official Reactions

3. (SBU) The official Tunisian reaction to the decision to
award President Obama the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was highly
laudatory. President Ben Ali congratulated President Obama
in a public message that was prominently covered in the
government controlled press. Saida Chtoui, Secretary of
State for Asia and the Americas, told the Ambassador on
October 13 that the award was well deserved and an
inspiration for all Tunisians. The Arabic language As Sabah
October 13 editorial's headline read, "Yes You Can, Mr.
President." The editorial said the "inscrutable" Nobel
Committee had for the first time rewarded a man for his
intentions rather than his deeds. But the article went on to
praise President Obama for his courage in moving to dismantle
Guantanamo, committing to a withdrawal from Iraq, stretching
a hand out to Iran, and "resisting the Zionist lobby."
Another, more popular, Arabic tabloid paper ran an oversized
headline saying, "The Cart before the Horse!!" It was
subtitled, "The Committee rewards Obama while there is no
peace." There was also broad coverage in Tunisian newspapers
of international reactions to the reward.

Private Reactions

3. (SBU) Private reactions were more muted. Several contacts
told us that they were pleased President Obama had won but
now the onus was on him to deliver results. Public reactions
published on the Embassy's Facebook site ranged from
enthusiastic, "he deserves the best," and "he has to go ahead
and give the world some peace," to the slightly sarcastic,
"no one else out there? Oh well, he deserves it." A number
of those who posted also hoped the prize would spur the
President to "bring justice to Palestine," or variants of
this theme.


4. (SBU) The general reaction in Tunis is the same as the
reaction to the President's Cairo speech: Tunisians are happy
for the change President Obama has brought to America's
public tone and are glad to cheer him on, but they are still
waiting for concrete results. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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