Tuesday, 15 January 2008
By Sabria S Jawhar
I hope that President Bush collects a lot of ceremonial swords and Ouda on his trip to the Middle East, because that's all he is getting if he thinks he is gathering support for his war of words against Iran. His trip to the Middle East is nothing more than a "farewell" tour of countries he has never been to and less productive than any of the trips US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took to the region.
Let's take stock of his accomplishments so far.
He started off by visiting Israel, where the first words out of his mouth were directed at Iran. As an afterthought, he mentioned as he was leaving that he had a Middle East peace plan that would give the Palestinians statehood.Well, that's fine and I appreciate his sentiments that the Palestinians deserve statehood and he wants to do something about it.
He says the Palestinians' "time has come," seven years after he entered office.
He never mentioned the touchy issues, like the division of Jerusalem or the 2002 Arab peace plan that would give Israel recognition from the Arab countries in exchange for returning to pre-1967 borders.
That would make things too complicated. I'm not sure why any Arab leader would take Bush's talk of Palestinian statehood seriously when it lacks the necessary details.But that's not why he is here. He is here to gather support for his tough talk on Iran.
He is warning us that Iran is a significant threat to not only the security of the United States but to the Gulf countries too.
He is even reaching out to the average Iranian, hoping to gain support from within Iran's borders.It does us no good to turn on the rhetoric and bad mouth our neighbor. As much I find some of Iran's stances alarming, nothing will be accomplished by making threats.
King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is taking the right path by initiating dialogue with Iranian leaders. Other regional leaders are taking the same path and I applaud them for using sound judgement and patience to stabilize the region.Bush says on his trip that Iran funds terrorists. But didn't he create many of those terrorists when his invasion of Iraq spiraled out of control? He says that Iran undermines the stability of Lebanon. But didn't he stand by and watch Israel invade Lebanon and rain bombs on civilian targets?
He says that Iran sends weapons to the Taleban. But didn't he underestimate the appropriate troop strength in Afghanistan to defeat the Taleban in the first place?Bush says governments can never build trust by harassing or imprisoning candidates and protesters.
But doesn't he hold prisoners without trial and spy on his own people, especially those who oppose his policies?Iran may or may not be responsible for many of these problems, but the US has culpability in this whole affair and is whitewashing it by pointing fingers.It's unfortunate, indeed a tragedy, that Bush decided to visit us in his final year in office.
Imagine what could have been accomplished if he had visited us in 2002, the year before the Iraq invasion. Or even in 2004 when there still was some lingering support here for his foreign policies. But he ignored us, ignored the Palestinians' terrible situation, and ignored the thousands of innocent people who died at the hands of insurgents and US troops in Iraq.Now he wants us to join the battle to contain Iran.
Sorry, I just don't have the enthusiasm to join him.