"On the dusty streets of Cairo, once considered the most important capital in the Arab world, Egyptians mulled over the recent performance of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, with most concluding he deserved a thumbs-up.
The Iranian president’s eye-catching showmanship as he announced the release of the 15 British sailors and marines seems to have generated admiration laced with a hint of frustration – why couldn’t Arab leaders be like him and stand up to the west?
The fact that Mr Ahmadi-Nejad is the leader of a Persian, predominantly Shia nation, seemed not to matter. “I consider Ahmadi-Nejad a leader of the Arab people. He has the confidence. It upsets me that we don’t have such a leader,” says Mohamed Ali, a 20-year-old student.
As Sunni Arab leaders voice concerns about sectarian tensions they say are fuelled by Iran and its interference in Iraq and Lebanon and watch Tehran’s nuclear programme with suspicion, other, ordinary Arabs see Mr Ahmadi-Nejad as a breath of fresh air.
The feelings are compounded by the perception that moderate Sunni states, such as US allies Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, simply follow Washington’s bidding, analysts say.
Abdullah Alshayji, a professor of international relations and head of the US studies unit at Kuwait University, says the Iranian leader strikes a balance that resonates in the Arab world: candid and outspoken in his criticism of the west and Israel, while appearing as a humble man of the people......"