· Officials fear popular anger will limit leaders' help
· Special envoy waits for final terms of reference
Ian Black, Middle East editor
Tuesday June 26, 2007
"Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority and pro-western Arab states are expected publicly to welcome Tony Blair as the special envoy of the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, though governments acknowledge that he is deeply unpopular with ordinary people across the region because of his role in the war in Iraq and close relationship with George Bush......
The prime minister can count on Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait and other Gulf states to back his new role. Syria is unlikely to join them because of its open opposition to the war in Iraq, close alliance with Iran, and hostility to the US and its allies. Lebanese angrily remember his failure to push for a swift ceasefire in last year's war between Israel and Hizbullah.
"The difficulty is with the people not the leaders," said one diplomat. "A lot of confidence-building will be needed."......"