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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 2nd, 2013
06:51 PM ET

Reporter: Arab allies view Obama as 'wobbly, indecisive, not strong enough'

Just days after President Barack Obama's first inauguration, he made a pledge to extend a "hand of friendship" to the broader Arab world and usher in a new era of cooperation.

"If we are looking at the region as a whole, and communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think that we can make significant progress," he said in an interview with the Arab TV network al Arabiya in January 2009.

Four years later, all hell is breaking loose in Syria and it seems the countless threats from the administration about crossing red lines, and possible strikes and interventions, don't appear to have much clout.

Arab allies now view Obama as "wobbly, indecisive, not strong enough," said Washington bureau chief of al Arabiya television Hisham Melhem, who also conducted that interview with Obama back in 2009.

Obama's style of leadership does not engage Arab leaders, and does not address regional issues, like Egypt, said Melhem.

But "everybody's crying out for American leadership, the Turks, the Arabs, and the Europeans. And given the weaknesses of the Europeans, given the vote in the British Parliament, given the fact that NATO ally Turkey is unable to lead - everyone is looking for the United States to lead, and there is no leadership," said Melhem.

"The United States is AWOL."

For more of our interview with al Arabiya television's Hisham Melhem, check out the video above.

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