The USA and the Muslim World - Engagement? Or Rhetoric?

Moderator: Tan Sri Mohamed Jawhar Hassan, Chairman & CEO, ISIS Malaysia.

Panel Members

  1. Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Chairman, IRIS Corporation Berhad.
  2. Prof Dato’ Paduka Mohamad bin Abu Bakar, Department of International & Strategic Studies, Universiti Malaya.
  3. Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim, Department. of History, Universiti Malaya.
  4. Mr Robert G. Rapson *, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S Embassy in Malaysia. [* tentative]


“Obama Calls for Renewed Engagement Between the US and the Muslim World.” These were the headlines when President Barack Obama delivered his recent speech in Cairo, holding an olive branch out to Muslims calling for a new page in relations between America with Islam. Does his speech signal a major turn in US policy towards Muslim nations? Will the new US Administration really adopt a different strategy in pressing Israel to make concessions for a peace treaty with the Palestinians? How do Iran’s pursuit of nuclear energy, the violent instability in Pakistan, the US ‘War against Terror’ in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the impact of the global economic crisis, affect such renewed engagement?

Above all: what should the response of the Islamic world be to this shift in US strategy? And How will it affect our immediate and long term future?


Four leading observers of the globe’s political & strategic scene tackle this live issue in a two hour Open Forum. Aiming to uncover civilisational dimensions of this historic moment, IAIS invites you to come – learn – and engage in the discussion.


On Friday, 26 June 2009, a Forum on US President Barack Obama’s recent speech in Cairo took place at the IAIS. The theme was: The USA and the Muslim World: Engagement or Rhetoric? Distinguished speakers included Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Chairman of IRIS Corporation Berhad, Professor Mohamad bin Abu Bakar, Department of International & Strategic Studies, Universiti Malaya, and Nasir Abbasi, commercial counsellor to the US Embassy in Malaysia. Tan Sri Jawhar Hassan, Chairman and CEO of ISIS, the Institute of Strategic and International Studies moderated the Forum, while Professor Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Founding Chairman and CEO of IAIS Malaysia delivered the opening remarks.

It was agreed by the participants that the Obama speech came as a welcome relief, after the policies of George W. Bush in relation to the Muslim world. The speech was seen as a genuine and sincere attempt to reach out to the Muslim world to build a partnership for lasting peace. It was highlighted that Obama made it clear that continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank constitutes a significant obstacle to the peace process. The Forum was followed by a Question and Answer session.

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