7:56am

Thu May 19, 2011
The Two-Way

Obama's Middle East Speech: Stakes Are High

Good morning.

The day's major story looks to be President Obama's late-morning address about the United States' relationship with the Muslim World.

As Alan Greenblatt writes for NPR.org, the president "will attempt partially to close the gap between U.S. ideals about democracy and its strategic interests in the Middle East and North Africa. It won't be easy."

On Morning Edition, NPR's Scott Horsley said that administration officials believe "fostering economic opportunity is one of the best ways to nurture the Middle East's newborn democratic movements." So, the president will talk about debt foregiveness, better economic management and expanded trade with the Muslim world, particularly Egypt and Tunisia.

As we previewed on Wednesday, NPR's Andy Carvin will be co-hosting a conversation on Twitter during and after the president's speech. You can submit questions on Twitter via the hashtag #MEspeech.

We'll be live-blogging the speech here on The Two-Way. NPR.org will be streaming the address. The president will be at the State Department and is scheduled to start speaking at 11:40 a.m. ET.

Meanwhile, here are some of the pre-speech headlines:

-- The New York Times — "Focus Is On Obama As Tensions Soar Across Mideast": "Against the backdrop of Middle East uprisings that have intensified animus toward Israel and growing momentum for global recognition of a Palestinian state, American and Israeli officials are struggling to balance national security interests against the need to adapt to a transformative movement in the Arab world."

-- CBS News — "Obama's Mideast Speech: Punishment And Praise": "In his first comprehensive response to revolts across the Arab world, President Barack Obama is doling out punishment and praise, targeting Syrian President Bashar Assad for attacking his people but also promising fresh U.S. aid to nations that support democracy. Mr. Obama is also trying to erase any doubt that the U.S. supports the call for change."

-- Politico — "Five Things To Watch In Barack Obama's Mideast Speech": "How far on Syria will Obama go? ... A Marshall Plan for the Arab world? ... How much will he say on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? ... A uniform doctrine, or will he improvise? ... What's next?"

-- The Wall Street Journal — "Power Shifts On Foreign-Policy Team": "Tumult in the Arab world has accelerated a shift in the standing of Washington's foreign-policy power players. The Obama White House has moved to exert greater civilian control over the military, challenging the views of the top brass in some areas, officials say." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.