A Bush legacy? All the US president can have found during this week's visit is the smoking ruins of his much-vaunted 'New Middle East' policy
By Soumaya Ghannoushi
"......As part of this confrontational strategy, it blocked any consensual resolution of the crisis, insisting on Hizbullah's disarmament - a task which Israel had failed to achieve in 33 days of brutal bombardment back in 2006. But as the recent events in Lebanon have painfully illustrated, this policy has ended in abysmal failure. The noose which Washington has worked tirelessly to tighten around the opposition's neck now threatens its friends. On Monday, the leaders of the pro-US alliance, Saad Hariri and Waleed Jumblatt, were besieged by opposition forces, for hours unable to set foot outside their residences in Beirut and the Mount.
For Washington, Lebanon is the most recent - though, perhaps, not the last - in a series of failures and setbacks unleashed by the Iraq catastrophe five years ago. The situation is not much better in Palestine next door. For months, it had raucously demanded that Palestinians hold legislative elections - a move designed to bolster Mahmoud Abbas' frail legitimacy after the death of the charismatic Yassir Arafat. But yet again, its predictions proved disastrously miscalculated.......
From Iraq, to Lebanon, and Palestine, the ground is increasingly shaking under the feet of Washington and those who have bound their political fortunes with it. Not only has the administration been unable to settle the conflicts raging there in its allies' favour, it has been placed on the defensive, increasingly pushed to the corner by its emboldened opponents. Through its string of misguided military adventures, fought directly, as in Iraq, or by proxy, as in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, Washington has caused the pendulum to swing away from its friends and towards the "axis of evil"........"
Much to its horror, Hamas emerged as the winner, elected by a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Rather than strengthened, Abbas and his team were further weakened. Just as it had done in Lebanon recently, Washington moved to widen the rift between the rival sides. It worked to undo the landmark deals signed in Cairo and Mecca aimed at bringing the conflict to a close through unity a Fatah- Hamas national unity government. The administration went as far as to conspire with warlord Mahmoud Dahlan and his militiamen to topple the elected government and engineer a Palestinian civil war. Mahmoud Abbas and his administration ended up being driven out of the Strip, and the engineered chasm culminated in one government in Ramallah and another in Gaza......."