In January, the Brookings Institute published an essay about turmoil in the Middle East and what the new president should do to counter the poor image and damage done by the Bushites. One new policy suggestion is bilateral trade agreements with Tehran rather than bomb-bomb-bomb Iran.
Yesterday, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit criticized Bush’s support for Israeli policies in Palestinian territories as well as the American military in Arab cities. Since McCain intends to follow Bush over the cliff, the fight for hearts and minds in the Middle East can only be lost with any GOP control of foreign policy.
Martin S. Indyk and Tamara Cofman Wittes | Brookings
The US president is leaving a difficult political legacy behind him in the Middle East. The civil war in Iraq is still smoldering, there are threats of complete destabilization in Lebanon and the Gaza strip, and Iran’s plans for weapons of mass destruction could spark a regional arms race. America’s influence in the region is dwindling, largely because of the Bush government’s good-versus-evil approach to all major problems there. This simplified outlook misjudges the real conflicts, hidden behind the often bloody local power struggles in the Middle East countries. If Bush’s successor wants to develop an effective solution to the problems in the Middle East they will have to take a more realistic and precise view of the conditions and events that are actually taking place there. Two developments in the Middle East need to be taken into account. Firstly … (see above link for remainder)
In sum, the biggest challenge for the new US president will be to replace the naivety and ideology of the Bush era with a foreign policy based on pragmatic realism which takes into account that America’s main Arab allies have different objectives to their own.
The summary above was prepared by Natasha Doff of the Atlantic Community editorial team from Back to Balancing in the Middle East. A New Strategy for Constructive Engagement, Brookings Institution, January 2008.
May 19, 2008 19:33 EST
Egypt’s foreign minister criticized President Bush’ Mideast policies Monday, a day after the American leader lectured Arab leaders on their approach to governing.
Bush took a strikingly tougher tone with Arab nations during his address to the World Economic Forum on the Middle East than he did with Israel in a speech last week.
Israel received praise from the president while Arab nations heard a litany of U.S. criticisms mixed with some compliments.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded Monday by saying U.S. support for Israel and its own actions in the Mideast helped fuel turmoil and a clash of civilizations between Muslims and the West.
"When we see … an Israeli tank in an Arab city, a Palestinian city or an American tank in an Arab city firing arms, that makes people angry," said Aboul Gheit at a summit meeting linked to the economic forum being held in Sharm El-Sheik, a Red Sea resort town.
"The anger leads to lots of turmoil. Turmoil leads to instability," said Aboul-Gheit. (read remainder at link above)