President Obama is preparing to give a major speech aimed at the Middle East, arguing that Osama bin Laden’s death, coupled with the “Arab spring” uprisings, herald the end of al-Qaeda’s grip on the Muslim imagination. “It’s an interesting coincidence of timing—that he is killed at the same time that you have a model emerging in the region of change that is completely the opposite of bin Laden’s model,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes explains to the Wall Street Journal.
An exact time for the speech hasn’t been pegged down yet, but it could come before the five-day European trip Obama has planned for May 23. Obama is already having American diplomats in the region foreshadow his message in TV and radio appearances. One issue the White House is still wrestling with: whether to detail plans for a new Arab-Israeli peace process, something many Arab leaders are pushing for.