Posted by Joshua on Thursday, April 26th, 2007
|Jacques et Bernadette Chirac vont habiter provisoirement dans un appartement appartenant à la famille Hariri|
President George W. Bush's top Arab allies, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King Abdullah, are edging away from him, skeptical about his ability to end bloodshed in Baghdad, make progress on Palestinian statehood and contain Iran's nuclear program. Saudi Arabia, the third-biggest exporter of crude oil to the U.S., is cutting a foreign-policy path sometimes contrary to American interests, diplomats and analysts say. "In the last quarter-century, never has America's standing with its core Arab allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, been as low as it is in this administration,'' said Bruce Riedel, a Middle East adviser to President Bill Clinton and to Bush in his first term. "They have come to the conclusion that Bush and his team are not part of the solution to their concerns, they are the problem.''
"The president of Yemen is coming here the beginning of May; they're friends of the United States,'' David Welch, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said in an interview. "I know they're not as big as Egypt or Saudi Arabia, but it would be a little unfair to say we have a problem in the region across the board.''
"What you've got is a rather large gap between the way that the Saudis, or the way that Abdullah, wants to do business in the new environment and the way Bush wants to do business,'' Indyk said.
Two years ago, largely at the urging of the Bush administration, the first elections in Saudi history were held for municipal councils in a small number of cities, including Jidda, Riyadh and Mecca. Only men could vote and only half the members were elected, but still the elections were hailed as emblems of change.
"Two Openings March 14 Might Consider" By: Michael Young | The Daily Star
It's never easy to discern movement in the midst of glacial stalemate, but the ice has definitely budged in the past 10 days in Lebanon. The Hariri tribunal is almost certain to be established, whether through Lebanese institutions or through the United Nations Security Council; and the heat is building up on the opposition to agree to a presidential election amid a widening consensus that Emile Lahoud, whatever else happens, will not remain in office beyond the end of his term…
It was Russia's deputy foreign minister, Alexander Sultanov, who lowered the knife on Syria by indicating that Moscow would not veto recourse to Chapter 7 in the event the tribunal remained blocked in Lebanon. Sultanov's message to Syrian President Bashar Assad probably went like this: Accept the tribunal through the Lebanese constitutional process, since you can then influence what happens; but once it reaches the UN, there's little we can do to help you. There are no signs, however, that Assad intends to change direction.In order to maintain the initiative, but also to block any outside effort to sow domestic conflict over the Hariri tribunal, March 14 needs to do more. It should open up in two directions: toward the Shiite community…; and toward Aoun…
With respect to the Shiites, the majority might want to think of putting on the table a quid pro quo: a timetable to discuss constitutional reforms and a redistribution of political power among all communities, in particular the Shiites, in exchange for Hizbullah's willingness to accept a timetable for its disarmament.
Danerous Delusion on the Golan By: Aluf Benn | Haaretz
There is a new idea dominating public discourse: Israel will recognize Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights and hold the territory under a long-term lease agreement. But those in the know and who are familiar with the detailed history of the negotiations with Syria say Damascus will not agree to such a proposal.
Al Qaeda Strikes Back By: Bruce Reidel | Foreign Affairs
By rushing into Iraq instead of finishing off the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Washington has unwittingly helped its enemies: al Qaeda has more bases, more partners, and more followers today than it did on the eve of 9/11. Now the group is working to set up networks in the Middle East and Africa — and may even try to lure the United States into a war with Iran. Washington must focus on attacking al Qaeda's leaders and ideas and altering the local conditions in which they thrive.
Playing Safe The Economist
The selection of Abdullah Gul, the foreign minister, as the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for next month's presidential election has taken much of the heat out of the issue.