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Even our Arab advocates can find few good things to say about us

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It is instructive to listen to the comments of the few modestly pro-Western Arab democrats on the impact of US policies on the region.

While English-language Arab news sites speak to a smaller, wealthier and more westernized group than the audience attracted to the more popular Arabic newspapers, they are the leading constituency for reform efforts promoted by the US. (Note that the Arab 'problem' with the US has increasingly become the Muslim 'problem,' i.e., our unilateral support of Israel and our collapse as honest broker, have become the primary lens by which our actions, even our intent, are judged.)

Columnist Ghassen Charbel writes in Dar al Hayat, a leading Arabic daily based in Beirut and London, that the average Arab has "difficulty in understanding the American administration's insistence on weakening the moderates' position" and "The 'Bush Declaration' [about the Palestinian right of return] makes it more difficult to get Arab cooperation in extinguishing the Iraqi fire, and offers a chance to the roaming fighters in search for a chance to fight America and Americans, to do so. "

The Kuwaiti Arab Times editor-in-chief, Ahmed Jarallah, writes from the most pro-US Arab nation (and one of the very few that have begun to alter a largely feudal governance system) that, "The Arabs are going through yet another cycle of pain and anger," but ladles part of the blame on Arabs for their internal divisiveness" noting that Arabs "still act in groups and organizations with each hating the other. We have miserably failed to act as one."

The Yemen Times continued that thread in an article, Humiliation in daylight, noting:

Our Arab regimes felt the shock of the words uttered by Bush in a remarkable fashion. They first couldn’t believe what they heard, but then, they couldn’t but swallow their defeat in public relations. What is there for them to say but denounce and condemn the action of Bush in deciding on behalf of the Palestinians?

It is a pity that not even one single state came out with a strong-worded message asking the US administration how it could act like this on behalf of Palestine and the Arab and Muslim world. In fact, the Bush-Sharon meeting presented last week was indeed a strong message to the Arab world, saying that they cannot care less about the Arab regimes or nations. In some sense, they have the right not to care about the region because its leaders were stripped of their power a long time ago. All they have is local might to oppress their own people, but when it comes to the moment of truth, they cannot even hold a regular summit on time.

It is indeed humiliation with the bitter meaning of the word. I cannot imagine the feeling inside each and every Arab leader, who does know deep inside that his opinion is as nothing for the USA and Israel, and whether he approves or disapproves a move in the White House simply makes no difference.

Shift to Iraqi-Americans and the complaints rise sharply with very sharp, even pointed, criticism of the Bush administration that goes well beyond their seconding that the prison events "deeply damaged the United States throughout the Muslim world."

And as for the other nine-tenths of the Arab world, the US enjoys a barren landscape.  Most forget that bin Laden was dismissive of Palestinian needs and only annexed them into his political calculus as he needed to widen his base. In turn, we seem to have assumed a new role in the region, that of an al Qaeda recruiting incentive.

Arab Democrats Feel Betrayed by Bush
By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Iraqi-Americans, Split on Prospects, See Little Progress
By JOHN M. BRODER
New York Times May 7, 2004

Arabs Rage at Bush's America
By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, May 6, 2004; 9:30 AM

Gordon Housworth



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