Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Bush in the Middle East


After seven years in the White House, Bush is finally turning his attention to the problems of Israel and Palestine. At least that is the headlines in the media. In reality, Bush is visiting not only Israel / Palestine but also Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In other words, this trip is less about peace and more about oil.

Saudi Arabia, described by the US as moderate (ie. sympathetic to US policy) is in a difficult situation. There is nothing moderate about Saudi domestic policies, which has led to a great deal of internal unrest. Much of the population is relatively poor which, in the largest oil producing country in the world and the price of crude at over $100.00 a barrel, is a complete outrage. The money is going somewhere and my guess is that the royal family of Saud have a symbiotic relationship with both the USA and Britain. The West needs oil but the House of Saud needs the West in order to maintain power. Hence the wealth of the country is funnelled back to the West in the form of arms deals and various forms of military and security support. This visit to Saudi Arabia is the most important aspect of the whole tour but will receive the least publicity in the media.

The media focus will be on that one part of the tour which is probably the least important, at least to the participants. One can be sure that there will be no benefit for the Palestinian people. The Bush administration has no record in trying to help the Palestinians. I think the reason for his visit here is a lot closer to home.

Last night the New Hampshire primaries saw Hilary Clinton narrowly edge victory over Barack Obama, with the Republicans seeing John McCain as their clear winner on the night. 2008 is the year of the presidential elections. There is a large Jewish vote and the Republicans have got to be seen to earn what support it can.

Don’t expect the Bush trip to make any real difference to the Middle East, least of all to Palestine. I suspect the television coverage it generates is designed primarily for US domestic consumption.

The rest is business as usual.

1 comment:

Heidi @ Carolina Dreamz said...

Hi Martin.

My friend's, in Egypt, are the more "friendly" people, in regards to feelings of animosity to the USA..

They were not pleased at all that Bush was there. They firmly told me that he was not welcome.

I don't understand the need for Bush to go there.. he doesn't need any brownie points, at this point.

I'm not exactly pro-Israel, because of Palestine.. but you are right.. the real reasons are nothing of what the media gave any attention to..

Its hard to be a humble American some days..

~Heidi