Greater Middle East Initiative
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"Arab Summit Blow-Up Appears Bad for Bush. U.S. Plan for Reform Resented as Meddling" by Robert Collier, published on Tuesday, March 30, 2004, by the San Francisco Chronicle:
- After Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali tempestuously called off the Arab League summit Saturday night, before its scheduled opening Monday, analysts and government officials from Washington to Riyadh debated whether the administration's plan for reform, dubbed the Greater Middle East Initiative, might suffer the same fate as the almost comical diplomatic catfight in Tunisia.
- U.S. officials hoped that the summit would set the region on a path toward Western-style free elections and free markets. But commentators in the United States and the Middle East say the administration has instead made matters worse by appearing to shove democracy down the throats of reluctant Arab leaders.
- "The Greater Middle East Initiative is going nowhere fast," said Andrew Apostolou, a Mideast analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a conservative Washington think tank. "The problem is that Arab states are in no mood to agree to any form of externally generated freedoms, and I see no way out of this. I don't think the Bush administration has handled this well."
- Despite the heavy publicity surrounding the initiative, few details have been released, and it is unclear whether the plan will include the carrot of significant new U.S. foreign aid. Published accounts indicate that it includes only modest spending, mainly on training programs for journalists, women and election monitors.
- Apostolou and other observers say the administration's attempts to promote the initiative have been plagued by missteps from the very beginning.
- Instead of being communicated privately to Arab governments, it was leaked to the Washington Post in early February -- a snub Arab rulers found humiliating.
- "The Bush administration says that reform has to come from within, but ... when it was leaked, ... it took on a life of its own," said Nail Al-Jubeir, a spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington.
- Arab distrust of American intentions intensified as the administration continued to support Israel's crackdown on the Palestinians. Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin last week has further inflamed passions in the region.
- "In the Arab world, everything is interconnected," Al-Jubeir added. "To resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict is a must, to reach justice and equality for the Palestinian people in the territories. Anything without (that) is not going to go anywhere."
Note, article reference: why do they hate us?