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Bush criticizes Arab nations for repression

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I posted this in my Egypt's Human Rights Thread because it has relevance but I thought it should also be a thread of it's own in MENA.

Bush criticizes Arab nations for repression

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Amr Nabil / Associated Press

‘AMERICA IS DEEPLY CONCERNED’: President Bush is seen on a screen as he addresses the World Economic Forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik.

The president wraps up his five-day trip by calling on Middle East nations to embrace economic reforms and women's rights.

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 19, 2008

CAIRO -- In vivid contrast to his effusive stopover in Israel, President Bush ended a five-day Middle East trip on Sunday by criticizing Arab nations for political repression and urging them toward economic reforms and women's rights.

The president's speech at the World Economic Forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik crystallized an approach that in Arab eyes stubbornly favors Israel over their own concerns and interests. Bush's language was in many ways supportive, but his characterization of the region was a pointed challenge to U.S. allies, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

"Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail," Bush said in an addressto about 1,500 global policymakers and business leaders. "America is deeply concerned about the plight of political prisoners in this region, as well as democratic activists who are intimidated or repressed, newspapers and civil society organizations that are shut down and dissidents whose voices are stifled."

He added, "I call on all nations in this region to release their prisoners of conscience, open up their political debate and trust their people to chart their future."

The mood was markedly different from that on Wednesday, when Bush began his tour of the region by celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary and receiving a standing ovation in the parliament, or Knesset, for uttering "Happy Independence Day" in Hebrew.

The Arab press condemned what it regarded as the president's warm embrace of Israel and lack of understanding of the Palestinian cause. The Bush administration has been blamed for such favoritism for years, and Sunday's comments appeared to underscore the president's misgivings about the Arab world while lauding its economic potential.

"The president was himself, finally. Maybe because this is the end of his political career," said Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian Cabinet minister and now a lecturer at Birzeit University. "This is actually him. This is George Bush the human being, not the politician. . . . I always thought he was a Christian Zionist and a fundamentalist ideologue."

On Air Force One after the economic forum, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bush's visit was "very fruitful. . . . It's not the last time that the president is going to be with these leaders. It's not the last time that he's going to have an opportunity to press this agenda forward.

"But it was yet another opportunity for him to make sure that everybody understands America's very firm commitment to all these goals," she said.

In his remarks, Bush emphasized that he would continue his push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord before he leaves office in January. The president met over the weekend with Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who days earlier had referred to Israel's statehood as a catastrophe for Palestinians.

"We must stand with the Palestinian people, who have suffered for decades and earned the right to a homeland of their own," Bush said. "A peace agreement is in the Palestinians' interest, it is in Israel's interest, it is in Arab states' interest, and it is in the world's interest. And I firmly believe that with leadership and courage, we can reach that peace agreement this year."

For many in the Arab world, Bush's seven years in office have produced too few gains to call the trip a victory lap and too many diplomatic failures to evoke a sense of nostalgia.

Hani Masri, a Palestinian columnist for the newspaper Al Ayyam, said, "Bush is trying to wash his hands from his promise. All his Middle East policies have failed, in Iraq, Lebanon and now here. So he tries to appear that he is fighting for democracy just for the sake of his legacy."

The president's calls for ending political repression and widening democracy strike many in the region as hypocrisy. In 2004, the Bush administration urged Egypt and other nations to allow free elections and political dissent. But after the Muslim Brotherhood won 20% of the seats in the Egyptian parliament in 2005, Washington fell largely silent when the Mubarak government cracked down on the organization, which the U.S. and Egypt feared would inspire other Islamist movements.

The Bush administration has relied on the support of Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- countries with poor human rights records that frequently jail political opponents -- to help contain Iran and bring stability to Iraq and Lebanon.

U.S. policy has become further complicated with the growing appeal of the militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Analysts here said that simply put, Bush's call for democracy is rhetoric that runs contrary to the White House's interests.

"Bush used strong words and leveled a harsh criticism against Arab governments, but this is nothing but public criticism," said Amr Shobaki, an analyst with Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "His talk about democracy is part of a public relations discourse. . . . There is no real intention or mechanism to pressure those regimes to embark on democratization."

National security advisor Stephen Hadley characterized Bush's tone as "one of optimism about what is possible in the Middle East; that the transformation to freedom, democracy, open markets and prosperity that occurred in Asia and Europe in the 20th century is possible in the Middle East in the first half of the 21st century."

"The speech makes clear that to do this there needs to be economic reform . . . and then of course the promotion of freedom," Hadley said.

Ahmed Thabet, an analyst at Cairo University, said Bush's speech would "increase the tensions in the region and jeopardize U.S. interests."

He added: "It is Bush's policies that made those groups [Hamas and Hezbollah] stronger. . . . They evolved to resist the Israeli occupation."

Although parts of the speech read like a lecture to Arab governments, Bush also offered praise. He cited Egypt, whose 80-year-old President Mubarak is facing labor unrest and protests over inflation, for reforms that have led to economic growth. But he also said Egypt, which receives about $2 billion in annual U.S. aid, cannot achieve permanent prosperity unless it undergoes political reform. Bush reportedly spoke to Mubarak about jailed political activist Ayman Nour.

"Nations across the region have an opportunity to move forward with bold and confident reforms -- and lead the Middle East to its rightful place as a center of progress and achievement," Bush said. "We have seen the stirrings of reform from Morocco and Algeria to Jordan and the Gulf states. . . . America appreciates the challenges facing the Middle East. Yet we also appreciate that the light of liberty is beginning to shine."

Challenging nations such as Saudi Arabia that discriminate against women, Bush urged greater women's rights as a "matter of morality and of basic math. No nation that cuts half its population from opportunities will be as productive or as prosperous as it could be. Women are a formidable force, as I have seen in my own family and my own administration."

jeffrey.fleishman

@latimes.com

Times staff writer Ashraf Khalil in Jerusalem and Noha El-Hennawy in The Times' Cairo Bureau contributed to this report.

Source

Edited by Olivia*

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He added, "I call on all nations in this region to release their prisoners of conscience, open up their political debate and trust their people to chart their future."

That's what could bring Arab regions to damnation in my opinion. We are dealing with political issues when we look at this world, but if you go to the source Arab leaders differ greatly from American leaders. I respect both because both have their good and bad as in all things in this life weighs with Pro's and Con's. Leaving it to the Arab people (common citizens and leaders) isn't a good idea because most are young and a minority of these young people probably want to change to American lifestyle there to free themselves of that burden to follow "Cultural ways". If that freedom starts to show there will be alot more terrorist attacks because terrorist's aim are to keep women confined and clothed in the house, to rid anything of western culture. America's dealing with a people who see in black and white (I am one who sees black and white only in many ways) haram or clean it's from respect and usually Religious matters so it won't be easy to change Arab regions. I do hope Women's rights advance a little bit more because Arab women are not limited to anything if they study hard and remain respectable. It can help with the Arab economy if they let women work to help provide for their families also like it's done in Western culture. Maybe there won't be a need for prostitution (for those minorities) if there are respectable positions offered to Women and their rights. Bush is a great man I might not agree with everything he's done or said but it's just a lack of understanding the other side and you won't find anyone in this world with a perfect mentality and mind. I personally think anyone who bickers about Bush couldn't do any more better as a president as he is doing. It's one of those "Easier said than done" situations because we are solely dealing with people. No one's the same or comprehends the same way, gets offended by the same things, agrees with the same things, sees things will become successful in doing it a certain way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh yeah

We have seen the stirrings of reform from Morocco and Algeria to Jordan and the Gulf states. . . . America appreciates the challenges facing the Middle East. Yet we also appreciate that the light of liberty is beginning to shine.

:content: shokrannn :lol:

Edited by sarahaziz

بحبك يا حبيبي اكمني بهواك و بحس انك مني

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i love pieter bruegel.

Hahaha. Or maybe

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i just wish he would stop... saying anything. because everything he says just enrages me.

I think for many people (myself included) he has said so many things that are ignorant or ill-informed over the past 8 years that I no longer have the patience or desire to listen to him anymore. I hear his voice and my mind shuts down.

That's probably not a good thing, but it takes me to my happy place...


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i just wish he would stop... saying anything. because everything he says just enrages me.

I think for many people (myself included) he has said so many things that are ignorant or ill-informed over the past 8 years that I no longer have the patience or desire to listen to him anymore. I hear his voice and my mind shuts down.

That's probably not a good thing, but it takes me to my happy place...

that's all part of the evil master plan ;)


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Leaving it to the Arab people (common citizens and leaders) isn't a good idea because most are young and a minority of these young people probably want to change to American lifestyle there to free themselves of that burden to follow "Cultural ways".

What, exactly, is the "American lifestyle" and if the people don't get to choose for themselves who do you suggest should do it? I'm not picking on you but I think you've opened the door for interesting discussion.

America's dealing with a people who see in black and white (I am one who sees black and white only in many ways) haram or clean it's from respect and usually Religious matters so it won't be easy to change Arab regions. I do hope Women's rights advance a little bit more because Arab women are not limited to anything if they study hard and remain respectable. It can help with the Arab economy if they let women work to help provide for their families also like it's done in Western culture. Maybe there won't be a need for prostitution (for those minorities) if there are respectable positions offered to Women and their rights.

Let's not forget that America freed itself from religious zealots in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Prior to that, the only people with rights were white, Protestant, property owning men. Oh, wait. I forgot - those same men made the rules and they made the rules to benefit themselves. It took the turbulant '60s for those same rights to be afforded to anyone else (yes, women were still legal property of their husbands in the 20th century). Still, there is plenty of evidence to support the statement Americans don't have full equality, across the board. My point is we have just been through this all ourselves, and that's quite likely why, as you said, Americans appreciate the challenges the Middle East faces.

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I don't think it's appropriate to talk about Bush like that. Anyone who has said something to mock bush, do you think you could've done things better? Your father would've been a better president? or could you have made all people in your country and all the world agree with you and your actions? He's still a person in my eyes who had the best interest for USA. There's alot of unknown factors that play into that type of job he holds. Too many brainwashing, pleading, difference of opinions, threats. I'm just disgusted with people of this country who don't respect who's in charge. Everything is mocked instead of taking a part in the country and doing their part. That's why society is what it is today. 1 Person a human being can't make things better for any of us other human beings- that's in God's hand.


بحبك يا حبيبي اكمني بهواك و بحس انك مني

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i just wish he would stop... saying anything. because everything he says just enrages me.

bds

:D

Ha!

Never heard of it before...

i don't blame him for all the ills in the world...

just a large majority of them. ;)

Edited by AlHayatZween

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It boggles my mind how W can even stand there and make such comments when he and his administration have done their own "repression of human rights". What in the he*ll do you call Gitmo?????? The fact that this administration has told lie after lie after lie and are not held accountable....... :angry::angry::angry::angry:

I cannot even stand to look at his picture without bile rising up in my throat.

It is a FACT that we have not had a worse president throughout history than W. AGH!


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Leaving it to the Arab people (common citizens and leaders) isn't a good idea because most are young and a minority of these young people probably want to change to American lifestyle there to free themselves of that burden to follow "Cultural ways".

What, exactly, is the "American lifestyle" and if the people don't get to choose for themselves who do you suggest should do it? I'm not picking on you but I think you've opened the door for interesting discussion.

America's dealing with a people who see in black and white (I am one who sees black and white only in many ways) haram or clean it's from respect and usually Religious matters so it won't be easy to change Arab regions. I do hope Women's rights advance a little bit more because Arab women are not limited to anything if they study hard and remain respectable. It can help with the Arab economy if they let women work to help provide for their families also like it's done in Western culture. Maybe there won't be a need for prostitution (for those minorities) if there are respectable positions offered to Women and their rights.

Let's not forget that America freed itself from religious zealots in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Prior to that, the only people with rights were white, Protestant, property owning men. Oh, wait. I forgot - those same men made the rules and they made the rules to benefit themselves. It took the turbulant '60s for those same rights to be afforded to anyone else (yes, women were still legal property of their husbands in the 20th century). Still, there is plenty of evidence to support the statement Americans don't have full equality, across the board. My point is we have just been through this all ourselves, and that's quite likely why, as you said, Americans appreciate the challenges the Middle East faces.

I think you should read my post again to understand my opinion better. I didn't understand how you came to all those conclusions. I'm honest I really don't see what you're complying with. Of course it's a clean conversation I won't take otherwise.


بحبك يا حبيبي اكمني بهواك و بحس انك مني

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