Archive for Monday, May 19, 2008

Bush critical of Arab governments as Middle East visit ends

May 19, 2008

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— President Bush lectured the Arab world Sunday about everything from political repression to the denial of women's rights but ran into Palestinian complaints he is favoring Israel in stalled Mideast peace talks. "Freedom and peace are within your grasp," Bush said despite scant signs of progress.

Winding up a five-day trip to the region, Bush took a strikingly tougher tone with Arab nations than he did with Israel in a speech Thursday to the Knesset. Israel received effusive praise from the president while Arab nations heard a litany of U.S. criticisms mixed with some compliments.

"Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail," Bush said in a speech to 1,500 global policymakers and business leaders at this Red Sea beach resort. That was a clear reference to host Egypt, where main secular opposition figure Ayman Nour has been jailed and President Hosni Mubarak has led an authoritarian government since 1981.

"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," Bush said. "I call on all nations in this region to release their prisoners of conscience, open up their political debate and trust their people to chart their future."

Scattered applause followed, with barely a ripple of reaction later to his declaration than Iran must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Bush arrived back in Washington late Sunday with little to show for the trip. Saudi Arabia rebuffed his plea for help with soaring oil prices, Egypt's leader questioned his seriousness about peacemaking and there was not enough progress in the peace talks to warrant a three-way meeting of Bush with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, did not conceal his disappointment over Bush's remarks to the Israeli parliament. The speech barely mentioned Palestinian hopes. "We do not want the Americans to negotiate on our behalf," Abbas said Sunday after talks with Mubarak. "All that we want from them is to stand by (our) legitimacy and have a minimum of neutrality." Abbas had dinner Saturday with Bush.

"In principle, the Bush speech at the Knesset angered us, and we were not happy with it," Abbas said Sunday. "This is our position and we have a lot of remarks (about the speech) and I frankly, clearly and transparently asked him that the American position should be balanced."

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

""Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail," Bush said in a speech to 1,500 global policymakers and business leaders at this Red Sea beach resort. That was a clear reference to host Egypt,"-----------------Bush says out of one side of his mouth, while propping up said government with $billion in military and other support.

Robert bickers 7 years, 2 months ago

Shame this paragraph didn't make it into this article. It's probably the most important part - and the most upsetting to the Arab states."There are people who claim that democracy is incompatible with Islam. But the truth is that democracies, by definition, make a place for people of religious belief. America is one of the most -- is one of the world's leading democracies, and we're also one of the most religious nations in the world. More than three-quarters of our citizens believe in a higher power. Millions worship every week and pray every day. And they do so without fear of reprisal from the state. In our democracy, we would never punish a person for owning a Koran. We would never issue a death sentence to someone for converting to Islam. Democracy does not threaten Islam or any religion. Democracy is the only system of government that guarantees their protection."(Please note that this speaks only of government, not the occasional stupidity of it's citizenry.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"we would never punish a person for owning a Koran."No, they are just renditioned to one of the Arab "Democracies" where the actual punishment is meted out.

Robert bickers 7 years, 2 months ago

Bozo: when in American history has a person EVER been arrested for OWNING a Koran? The country is far from perfect, but c'mon. Besides, wouldn't one of the "democracies" (a true point) embrace a Koran owner?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Oh, come on, Jimbo-- BushCo has targeted thousands of people for investigation, harassment, arrest, deportation and even imprisonment primarily because they are Muslim. And the religious nuts that give us things like "defense of marriage" laws and much other busybodiness are really no better than the Islamist nuts who want to install Sharia law in Muslim countries.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Yes, Godot, we certainly wouldn't want to infringe on the free speech rights of a soldier wishing to insult the inhabitants of a country he is occupying rather than seeking to win their hearts and minds.

Godot 7 years, 2 months ago

A soldier uses a Koran as target practice and he is immediately punished and removed from the area where he committed the insult. Sounds like his rights were violated, to me. Free speech, and all. Like burning a flag.

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