My latest New Matilda column is about the recent Bush visit to the Middle East:
George W Bush’s current visit to the Middle East, in the final year of his Presidency, is an attempt to solidify Washington’s position towards its client states – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine – against the troublesome rising star of Iran (Bush’s visit to Saudi Arabia redefined sycophancy).
The situation in Iraq is desperate. Despite the rhetoric from the US military and its media courtiers, the country is irrevocably divided and Iraqi refugees in countries like Syria are suffering terribly, with even US diplomats turning away from the mission. At least Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger greeted Bush on his arrival with praise for the Iraq debacle.
Bush’s arrival in Israel and Palestine has been greeted with soaring rhetoric. Visiting Ramallah, the President said that he was confident a peace treaty would be signed in 2008 and demanded an end to the Israeli occupation. But the reality on the ground belies his optimism.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to cease building illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and told Bush that the Jewish State had the right to continue building colonies in areas that make the establishment of a Palestinian State impossible. Days before Bush arrived, the Israelis refused to release information that revealed the extent of illegal settlements built without permits in both outposts and established colonies in the West Bank.