In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

“Axis of (anti-Iran) moderates”: An idea whose time seems to be up

Posted by seumasach on May 19, 2008

Defeat for the US/UK in Iraq and for Israel in Lebanon are resulting in a historic realignment in the Middle East

Sunday, May 18, 2008(MISSING LINKS)

Both the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes have concluded that the Palestine-Israel talks are dead, at least for the duration of the Bush administration, Arab reports suggest. This led to an undiplomatic and possibly historic Mubarak-Bush dust-up at a Sharm-el-Sheikh conference, and a suggestion by an experienced Jordanian commentator that his country would do well to seek out a better relationship with Iran.

(1) Historic Dust-up at Sharm-el-Sheikh (Al-Quds al-Arabi)

What happened here is that Bush, in order to cover the fact that the Palestinian talks were a failure, started blathering about the promotion of democracy in the Mideast and other related talking points, “about which America had been silent for so long that people assumed it had dropped out of their vocabulary” (in the words of the AlQuds al-Arabi reporter), which so infuriated Mubarak that when it came time for the official speeches, he took care not to be in the hall to hear Bush’s speech, and Bush reciprocated by not being in the hall for Mubarak’s speech either. Mubarak, for his part, said in his speech that the Arab nations “will not be providing cover for any agreement that does not satisfy the Palestinians”, and the Al-Quds al-Arabi reporter explained: When an Arab leader of the experience of Mubarak says a thing like that, you can take it as an anticipatory death-certificate for any further negotiations; and more particularly that the remark “reflects information confirming that the talks have reached a dead-end”. And the Al-Quds reporter notes that the semi-official Egyptian paper Al-Jumhuriya described Bush as “a failed president”, and his speeches as “fatuous” (or “idiotic”), something that paper would not have published without a green light from the powers that be. Egyptian authorities clearly hoped he will not be back, ever, the journalist adds.

(2) Jordan seen repositioning (Abu Ruman in Al-Ghad)

Mohammed AbuRuman began his column yesterday (Sunday May 18) by noting the combination of Bush-policy failures in Palestine and Lebanon both. He wrote:

The political winds have been blowing in the opposite direction to what the “moderate Arab” nations were hoping for, because on both the Palestinian and Lebanese fronts, with both Fatah and the Siniora government suffering from difficult internal crises, and both Hamas and Hizbullah moving forward on the ground, albeit in stages. And in parallel with that and at the same time, comes Bush to the region, with speeches calling attention to his foolish bias, overlooking and skipping over the interests of the “friendly” Arab states, assuring Israel of his absolute support, thus strengthening the arguments of the rejectionists on the one side, and further embarrassing the Arab “moderates” on the other.

AbuRoman then talks about the whole idea of the “axes”–namely the “moderate” axis including Egypt and Jordan and others taking a position inimical to Iran and its “axis”. This isn’t working, he says:

The whole philosophy behind the “regional axes” was the political idea of a trade-off between an attitude toward Iran and its axis, and the realization of historic and decisive progress on the level of the Palestinian issue….So now that the freezing-up of that process is confirmed, the whole concept of the “axes” no longer serves these [“moderate”] countries…

AbuRoman stresses he isn’t talking about throwing away the good relationship with the United States, rather he is talking about establishing an independent stance like that of Turkey, which has good relations both with the West and the Arab regimes; or Qatar, currently acting as host and go-between in what some think will be a successful precedure for ending the Lebanese government crisis.

A journalist with another paper (AlQuds al-Arabi, as it happens) noted in a press-roundup that Jordanian papers suddenly lacked their usual attacks on Hizbullah on the weekend, and said this is explained–at least according to rumors–by the fact that the Jordanian government has entered into talks with Iran, possibly indicating AbuRoman was writing about something that is already starting to happen.

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