ABSTRACT

The Barack Obama administration was inaugurated in January 2009. The new administration inherited a country mired in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Hence, the domestic economy became the top priority for the Obama administration during early 2009 (Henry 2009). However, the greater emphasis on domestic affairs did not detract from the administration’s interest in formulating a coherent foreign policy. The administration had inherited an unstable Greater Middle East, with two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, an Iranian nuclear programme, and no solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in sight. Having lived in Indonesia – which has the world’s largest Muslim population – for four years as a child, Obama had first-hand experience of a predominantly Muslim country. This raised hopes that Obama’s election to the presidency would improve US relations with the Muslim world (Kull 2011: 3).