Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Al Quds Al Arabi accuses US of flipflopping

The Arabic language newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi is a London-based independent Arab nationalist daily with an anti-US and anti-Saudi editorial line; generally pro-Palestinian, tends to be sympathetic to Bin Ladin.

This article is typical of the newspaper's anti-American slant but it does provide a good view of what many in the Arab world see as a US flip-flop.

UK Arabic Paper Accuses US of Backing Down on Support for Democratic Reforms

Editorial: "US Backing Down on Democratic Reform"

Al-Quds al-Arabi

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 T10:26:44Z

The United States has apparently backed down on its declared policy of supporting the democratic reform process in the Arab region and has started to lean toward dealing with the present dictatorial regimes, even if temporarily.

The current tour of the region by US Assistant Secretary of State Karen Hughes has provided more signs of this.

During her stopover in Cairo, Mrs. Hughes was eager to show an understanding of the slow reforms in Egypt and the viewpoint of President Husni Mubarak which says that the democratic change process needs time for enacting new legislations and laws. She did not criticize the regime at all in all her talks with officials and media representatives and focused on the means of marketing the United States as a country that is not hostile to the Arabs and Muslims.

But when she arrived in Jedda to meet Saudi King Abdallah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz, she was keen to praise the Saudi Government's efforts to fight terror and did not bring up at all the issues of human rights violations, the absence of freedoms, and the lack of the fair and independentce judiciary and merely referred shyly to the need to respect non-Muslims and their rights to worship.

It is evident from the above that two principal criteria govern US policy on the democratic change process in the Middle East:

The first criterion is the relationship with Israel. Democratic reforms remain marginal or occupy a lower level on the list of US priorities as long as the ruling Egyptian regime is performing its role of protecting the Hebrew State's security and continuing the political and economic normalization processes with it.

US pressures for reform in Egypt abated noticeably after the signing of the QIZ (qualified industrial zone) economic agreement between Egypt and Israel, the completion of the deal to sell it Egyptian gas, and Egypt's continued efforts to pressure the Palestinians to stop the military operations.

The second criterion is the fight against terror. As long as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to fighting Al-Qa'ida organization, changing the curricula that encourage Islamic extremism, and cooperating with the United States in the war on terror, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, then this means that it is doing for Washington what is required of it and hence is exempted from any blame or criticism. Democratic reforms therefore remain unimportant and can be frozen or postponed or even dropped completely.

This US backing down on supporting reforms will increase the hatred for US policies in the Arab region and make Mrs. Hughes' tour futile or with very limited results.

The present US administration is hated for three main reasons. The first is its war in Iraq that was based on lies, ripped a stable country apart, and killed at least 100,000 of its sons. The second is the absolute support for the Israeli aggression in Palestine. The third is the backing for the dictatorships and the preference to deal with them rather than with elected democratic regimes.

Mrs. Hughes' statements and the backing down they implied as well as her government's pressures on the Arab countries to normalize with Israel after a nominal pullout from Gaza and its insistence on remaining in Iraq are all factors confirming separately and collectively that the hatred for the United States will increase and widen and all the desperate and nominal attempts to change this glaring truth will not succeed.



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