After Visit, Middle East Wonders, “What Was That All About?”

McClatchy article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20080116/wl_mcclatchy/2816770_1

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — President Bush wraps up a weeklong tour of the Middle East Wednesday, leaving many Mideast political observers mystified as to the purpose of the visit and doubtful that the president made inroads on his twin campaigns for Arab-Israeli peace and isolation for Iran.

Arab critics deemed Bush’s peace efforts unrealistic, his anti-Iran tirades dangerous, his praise of authoritarian governments disappointing and his defense of civil liberties ironic.

Things didn’t go as well as President Bush probably hoped:

In another potential setback, Bush received a noncommittal response from the Saudi government to his request for increased oil production to reduce world oil prices. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi insisted production would increase only “when the market justifies it,” according to news reports from Riyadh.

This month, the price of oil climbed past the milestone $100 a barrel mark.

“I would like for them to realize that high energy prices affect the economies of consuming nations,” Bush told reporters in Riyadh before his meeting with the king.

I bet you they knew that already, sir.

“I guess the visit was just about making sure the gulf doesn’t slip away toward Iran ,” said Ghanim al Najjar , the director of the Center for Strategic and Future Studies at Kuwait University . “All these issues will just stay on the surface because there is no environment to support action against Iran . Everything will stay on the level of rhetoric rather than reality.”

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Filed under arab, arabian, Saudi Arabia

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