How is Bush's visit to the Middle East playing on the Arab Street? Omar Hassan, a Kuwaiti op-ed writer for AFP, gives us some hints.
His tour of Washington's closest friends in the oil-rich Gulf region comes amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran over a naval confrontation in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.Sounds to me like they've got a pretty clear idea of Bush's motives for his trip and aren't being fooled at all by US plans to play "look, over there!" Would that the US press were so clearsighted.
But several commentators in the region have voiced strong misgivings about his intentions, amid fears Washington could resort to military action in the long-running stand-off over Iran's disputed nuclear drive.
Although Kuwait is welcoming Bush as a friend, officials have said the emirate will not allow the United States to use its territory as a launch pad for any strike against Iran.
"Mr president, the region needs smart initiatives not smart bombs," Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai said in a front-page editorial.
...Dubai's Gulf News, in a front-page letter to Bush, launched a stinging attack on his administration's policy in the Middle East, chiefly its support for Israel despite the "oppression" of the Palestinians.
"We realise that containing Iran, selling more weapons and securing cheap oil supplies are the main issues on your mind as you tour the region," the paper said, dismissing Bush's "claim" to want to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Al-Khaleej, another UAE daily, said Bush was "striving to transform the Arab-Israeli conflict into an Arab-Iranian conflict, since nuclear Israel, which is armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction, which is aggressive, expansionist, racist and an international outlaw, does not threaten world peace."