Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Axis of (anti-Iran) moderates": An idea whose time seems to be up

Both the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes have concluded that the Palestine-Israel talks are dead, at least for the duration of the Bush administration, Arab reports suggest. This led to an undiplomatic and possibly historic Mubarak-Bush dust-up at a Sharm-el-Sheikh conference, and a suggestion by an experienced Jordanian commentator that his country would do well to seek out a better relationship with Iran.


(1) Historic Dust-up at Sharm-el-Sheikh (Al-Quds al-Arabi)

What happened here is that Bush, in order to cover the fact that the Palestinian talks were a failure, started blathering about the promotion of democracy in the Mideast and other related talking points, "about which America had been silent for so long that people assumed it had dropped out of their vocabulary" (in the words of the AlQuds al-Arabi reporter), which so infuriated Mubarak that when it came time for the official speeches, he took care not to be in the hall to hear Bush's speech, and Bush reciprocated by not being in the hall for Mubarak's speech either. Mubarak, for his part, said in his speech that the Arab nations "will not be providing cover for any agreement that does not satisfy the Palestinians", and the Al-Quds al-Arabi reporter explained: When an Arab leader of the experience of Mubarak says a thing like that, you can take it as an anticipatory death-certificate for any further negotiations; and more particularly that the remark "reflects information confirming that the talks have reached a dead-end". And the Al-Quds reporter notes that the semi-official Egyptian paper Al-Jumhuriya described Bush as "a failed president", and his speeches as "fatuous" (or "idiotic"), something that paper would not have published without a green light from the powers that be. Egyptian authorities clearly hoped he will not be back, ever, the journalist adds.


(2) Jordan seen repositioning (Abu Ruman in Al-Ghad)

Mohammed AbuRuman began his column yesterday (Sunday May 18) by noting the combination of Bush-policy failures in Palestine and Lebanon both. He wrote:
The political winds have been blowing in the opposite direction to what the "moderate Arab" nations were hoping for, because on both the Palestinian and Lebanese fronts, with both Fatah and the Siniora government suffering from difficult internal crises, and both Hamas and Hizbullah moving forward on the ground, albeit in stages. And in parallel with that and at the same time, comes Bush to the region, with speeches calling attention to his foolish bias, overlooking and skipping over the interests of the "friendly" Arab states, assuring Israel of his absolute support, thus strengthening the arguments of the rejectionists on the one side, and further embarrassing the Arab "moderates" on the other.
AbuRoman then talks about the whole idea of the "axes"--namely the "moderate" axis including Egypt and Jordan and others taking a position inimical to Iran and its "axis". This isn't working, he says:
The whole philosophy behind the "regional axes" was the political idea of a trade-off between an attitude toward Iran and its axis, and the realization of historic and decisive progress on the level of the Palestinian issue....So now that the freezing-up of that process is confirmed, the whole concept of the "axes" no longer serves these ["moderate"] countries...
AbuRoman stresses he isn't talking about throwing away the good relationship with the United States, rather he is talking about establishing an independent stance like that of Turkey, which has good relations both with the West and the Arab regimes; or Qatar, currently acting as host and go-between in what some think will be a successful precedure for ending the Lebanese government crisis.

A journalist with another paper (AlQuds al-Arabi, as it happens) noted in a press-roundup that Jordanian papers suddenly lacked their usual attacks on Hizbullah on the weekend, and said this is explained--at least according to rumors--by the fact that the Jordanian government has entered into talks with Iran, possibly indicating AbuRoman was writing about something that is already starting to happen.

7 Comments:

Anonymous dan said...

Whilst the speculation about Jordanian moves towards a resumption of relations with Iran are interesting, they're somewhat trivial in comparison to the ongoing Egyptian-Iranian negotiations regarding normalisation of relations ( as far as I can tell these are currently stuck over the issue of street names ).

There's been virtually no Western reporting on this issue whatsoever, but one does wonder whether this is the elephant hiding behind the curtains.

4:10 AM  
Blogger annie said...

comes Bush to the region, with speeches calling attention to his foolish bias, overlooking and skipping over the interests of the "friendly" Arab states, assuring Israel of his absolute support, thus strengthening the arguments of the rejectionists on the one side, and further embarrassing the Arab "moderates" on the other.

can't say it any plainer than that. bush is such an idiot.

The president's speech at the World Economic Forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik crystallized an approach that in Arab eyes stubbornly favors Israel over their own concerns and interests.

da , what a slap in the face.

personally, i think this could have a positive outcome. whatever blinders appeasers to the west have resisted shedding, this should make it abundantly clear there in no respect reflected in our middle eastern policies except for any/everything israel. just one continued lure leading to nothing but eventual destruction.

"America is deeply concerned about the plight of political prisoners in this region, as well as democratic activists who are intimidated or repressed, newspapers and civil society organizations that are shut down and dissidents whose voices are stifled."

astounding hypocrisy.

6:25 AM  
Blogger badger said...

I'm starting to wonder if he's all there, if you know what I mean.

re Dan: the street-naming issue (Tehran street named after the assassin of Sadat) has been under discussion since Jan 2004, and there is this recent summary of the state of play as of about a year ago.

7:59 AM  
Blogger annie said...

I'm starting to wonder if he's all there,

a little late to the party badger.

;)

11:55 AM  
Blogger badger said...

yeah

12:36 PM  
Blogger William deB. Mills said...

Very informative post. Much appreciated.

So the Jordanian reporter thinks "The whole philosophy behind the "regional axes" was the political idea of a trade-off between an attitude toward Iran and its axis, and the realization of historic and decisive progress on the level of the Palestinian issue."
Wow! The poor guy actually believed that was what the Neocons had in mind?!? Substitute "al Qua'ida" for "Iran" and you have what would have been a plan back after 9/11.
When is someone going to write a counterfactual analysis of the post-9/11 world?

3:47 PM  
Blogger badger said...

That's an interesting idea. Also a difficult one. I leave the analytical writing to you...

9:50 AM  

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