What happened prior to President George W. Bush's Middle East trip is as interesting as what goes on during the trip. I could never be a diplomat, sitting down with people that you know want to slit your throat and destroy your country. No way. But that's part of the job for an American President. I wonder what this trip will accomplish, if anything? Ruth S. King writes about President George W. Bush's Middle East tour:
Remember the joke about a boy who gets a huge box of horse manure as a nasty prank and spends a whole day sifting through it looking for a pony? Well I’m reminded of that by the dozens of friends and supporters of Israel who are looking for the pony in President Bush’s foolhardy Middle East peace mission. (Family Security Matters)
Funny image and I'm sure many feel it's appropriate. Poor Israel, putting on a smiling face as people plot to divide her up and make decisions for her.
Bush in Saudi Arabia, where 'a recent poll found only 12 percent here view Bush positively — lower than Iran's president or even al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden — and more think warmly toward Iran than America.'
Caroline Glick points out that "For the past several weeks, the leaders of the global jihad and their state sponsors in Syria and Iran have escalated their rhetorical and military attacks against Israel and the US."
Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and his American lackey Adam Gadahn all issued video and audio appeals on the eve of Bush's trip. [snip]
Fatah al-Islam is considered a creation of Syrian intelligence ... led by Shaker al-Absi, a Palestinian and a former member of the Syrian military ... announcing his allegiance to Osama bin Laden ... combining forces with al-Qaida in Iraq. [snip]
Hamas too spent the period leading up to Bush's visit escalating both its missile offensive against southern Israel and its anti-Israel and anti-American rhetoric. [snip]
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave a televised speech excoriating Bush for his support and recognition of Israel. [snip]
Nasrallah's Iraqi counterpart Muqtada el-Sadr made a call on Wednesday for Arab leaders to boycott Bush. [snip]
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's representative Ali Larijani was rounding off a week-long official visit to Syria. There he met with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad [snip]
Iranian forces directly challenged US naval forces in the Straits of Hormuz. [snip]
... in their decision not to open fire on the Iranian boats, they signaled clearly that the US is unwilling to actually fight Iran. (continue reading at Jerusalem Post)
See "Appropiate Actions" by my friend at GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD, for more on conflicts at sea.
In the United Arab Emirates "Bush accused Iran of funding terrorist extremists, undermining stability in Lebanon, sending arms to the Taliban and intimidating its neighbors with alarming rhetoric." The Iranians responded, "His remarks were an indication of the frustration over his failure in attracting Muslim and Arab countries to support to the Zionist occupier regime, Israel."
The UAE is different from other stops on Bush's trip. Judith Miller's article in the City Journal, "Abu Dhabi: East Leans West" -- While radical Islamists fight to restore the Dark Ages, a modernizing sheikhdom invests in Western culture -- gives an interesting view of the region:
Most people wear Western clothes; you see relatively few dishdashas, the flowing white robes usually worn by Arab men in the Persian Gulf. There are no bearded mullahs on the streets or on the far more crowded highways. There are lots of women drivers, though, some with headscarves, some without.
The emirate is determined to modernize its young, traditionally conservative, underskilled population—to mold future citizens secure in their Islamic heritage but able to flourish in an increasingly globalized and diverse world. Radical Islamists want to drag Muslims back to the Dark Ages; Muslim Abu Dhabi is racing into the future. True, Abu Dhabi, like the UAE as a whole, has a system of government that is tribal and undemocratic, blending family, business, and administrative interests in inseparable and impenetrable ways. But the emirate’s commitment to the education and cultural advancement of its people makes it a relatively bright spot in the Arab Middle East, where oil wealth has too often brought conflict and misery. (continue reading)
The article paints a beautiful picture of the region, completely opposite of surrounding countries. Yet, ... yet ... what does this mean? Does it mean there is hope for the Muslims and the Middle East? Does it mean that places like Syria, Iran, Gaza could some day look similar? While we ponder this question, President Bush shuttles on.
What's going on behind the scenes? What deals are being discussed? The photo-ops don't tell the story my friends. Olmert praises Bush in the press conference to the point it was embarrassing to everybody. I thought Olmert was going to drop to one knee and kiss Bush's ring, as the compliments continued to flow.
One continuing truth: Israel WILL NOT accept nukes in Iran. God bless them.
I suppose having 'tea' or 'orange juice' with a terrorist doesn't equal negotiations. US envoy, Ambassador William Wood, meets former Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Salaam and urged him to tell his people to leave behind “the practice of producing poison,” and said poppy production, the key element in the opium and heroin trade, was against the law and Islam. (AP)