Thursday, May 22, 2008

Robin Wright: U.S. on the Outside in Peace Efforts


The United States is not playing a role in other critical Middle East initiatives, Ottaway noted, including an Egyptian effort to reconcile the two major Palestinian parties, Fatah and Hamas, and negotiations between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council sheikdoms. The Bush administration is absent "across the board," she said.

That absence reflects Bush's lame-duck status, experts said. "The president spoke in Jerusalem a week ago about standing up to dictators and not appeasing those who used force. He isn't home a week, and the dictators and the forces of violence have triumphed," said Bruce Riedel, a former National Security Council staff member.

John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described as a "wake-up call" the Israeli and Syrian announcement of the first peace effort in eight years. "What did the leaders of Israel, already engaged in negotiations with Syria, think when President Bush stood before the Israeli Knesset and invoked Hitler in labeling engagement with rogue nations 'appeasement'? " he asked.

The administration responded coolly to the news of talks in Istanbul. "We hope that this is a forum to address various concerns we all have with Syria's support of terrorism, repression of its own people, and so we will see how this progresses," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino......

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