Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gulf allies turn their backs on Bush

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times

"From the "Filipino Monkey" non-incident involving US warships and Iranian speedboats to the reported - true or not - visit by a senior Iranian military official to the Green Zone in Baghdad, the George W Bush administration is being made to look foolish. Meanwhile, Tehran, by ignoring Washington's rhetoric and letting the chief of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog do the talking, has effectively undercut Bush's diplomatic moves in the region.....

ElBaradei arrived in Tehran just as Bush was touching down in Kuwait. They could almost hear each other. Tehran rolled out a red-carpet welcome for ElBaradei......

But the most important outcome of the ElBaradei visit is perhaps its impact in molding regional opinion in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf region. It gives the decisive push to the "pro-West" Arab regimes to turn their backs on Bush's desperate pleas to join an anti-Iran coalition. Even for the most ardent "pro-West" Arab regimes, there is a serious problem now in identifying with the US-Israeli chorus. Equally, this "new thinking" will have implications for the Palestine-Israel peace process, as well as the situation in Lebanon and Iraq. Simply put, Tehran may be on the verge of breaking through to mainstream Arab regional politics - a historic breakthrough.......

The most significant portion of the interview related to ElBaradei's passionate call for a security system in the Middle East where the initiative rested with the Arabs. In this he virtually echoed a long-standing Iranian stance. "We [Arabs] have to be involved, and we should know that we have to be in a leading position in any matter that has to do with our security. We cannot leave our fate, security, future and civilization to be the subject of discussion in European and American councils. We cannot sit back and wait for the outcomes of what they decide for us. If this continues, our existence will never be recognized. As the Koran says, God does not change the condition of a people until they change the condition of their own selves," he concluded.

Tehran ignores Bush rhetoric

There is no need to second-guess what could be the impact of the interview on Arab opinion, specially the elite in the Middle East which respects ElBaradei as a world statesman commanding immense prestige. Tehran correctly estimated that it didn't need to add a comma to what ElBaradei said in his outspoken interview. During the talks with ElBaradei, none of the top leaders in Tehran bothered to match Bush's rhetoric. They seem to have decided that the best thing is simply to ignore the US president......."

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