Middle East States Call for Change in US Policy

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Following the re-election of President Bush, Middle Eastern states -- many of which were hoping for a change in U.S. leadership -- called instead for a change in U.S. Middle East policy.

President Bush's war on terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq has alienated some Middle Eastern leaders who fear that their dictatorial regimes could be targeted next for democratic change.

They also have been critical of President Bush's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his perceived bias toward Israel.

Bush was the first American president to officially declare U.S. support for a Palestinian state.

But over the last four years, various initiatives to bring an end to violence in the region have failed, largely because they demanded that the Palestinian Authority put an end to Palestinian terrorism and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, which never happened.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he was pleased to congratulate Bush on his winning a second term, but he also said he hoped the new administration would work more closely with the European Union to achieve peace in the region.

"We hope that Mr. Bush's new administration, together with the European Union, can bring influence to bear to arrive at a peaceful development in the [Middle East] region," Mubarak said.

Jordan, considered another strong Middle Eastern ally of the U.S., called for a change in the way the U.S. handles Israel and the Palestinians.

"There is a need for a change in U.S. policy toward reactivating the peace process and achieving progress that saves bloodshed of innocent victims and ends Israel's heavy-handed policies toward Palestinians," said Jordanian government spokeswoman Asma Khader.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, hospitalized in Paris, sent his congratulations to president Bush in a statement issued by Mohammad Rashid, one of his aides.

"President Bush has shown a clear will to solve the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution," Arafat said in reference to Bush's "road map" peace plan, which backs the creation of a Palestinian state.

He said he hoped that Bush would be more involved "at the highest levels" in solving the conflict.

Another Arafat aide, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said that the Palestinians were willing to work with the Bush administration.

"We are ready to work with any American administration," Abu Rudeina said. "The only thing we are interested in is seeing an administration that will work to advance the peace process... to allow the creation of a Palestinian state."

Earlier, Palestinians had openly expressed their hope that Senator John Kerry would become the next president. On Wednesday, Leila Shahid, the Palestinian permanent envoy to Paris, said she was "worried" about a second Bush term because he had put the peace process in the "freezer."

A spokesman for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, warned that unless Washington changed its policies, the group would continue to regard the U.S. as hostile.

"We urge the U.S. administration to reconsider its positions," Abu Zuhri said. "Until they do so, we will continue to regard the U.S. administration as hostile to our Arab and Muslim causes."

In Iran, where the U.S. has been pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution against Iran's development of nuclear capabilities, reaction has been mixed.

Iranian parliamentarian Mohammad Mohammadi was quoted by the state-run news agency as warning that America was on its way to "international and economic ruin unless Bush is more careful in his second term."

But another parliamentarian, Hamid Reza Haj-Babaei, was quoted earlier by IRNA as saying that the results of the U.S. presidential elections would not have an impact on Iran.

There was no immediate official comment from Syria, which is under U.S. sanctions. But Syrian political science professor Imad Shuaibi from the Damascus University was quoted by Beirut's Daily Star as saying that Bush's next term would be "four years of nightmare again."

Yemen's Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Oribi said his country would continue to cooperate with the U.S., despite what he called an "unjustified" war in Iraq.

"After the September 11, 2001 attacks, there was unfortunately a violation of human rights of Arabs and Muslims in America, and Washington did not act on the bloody situation in the Palestinian territories, which led to anger toward the Bush administration, in addition to the war in Iraq which turned out to be completely unjustified," al Oribi said.

But Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was not disappointed with the results. "The U.S. liberated us from a dictator and a very long period of war and agony," Allawi said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was due to telephone President Bush on Thursday to offer his congratulations.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered his congratulations.

"Now that Mr. Bush is elected, we are very happy and we congratulate the American people for their choice," he said. He also commented that "Mr. Kerry would have been a very friendly president to Israel as he proved to be for a long time in the Senate."

Israelis appeared to be happy with America's choice to re-elect President Bush.

In a telephone poll of 502 adult Israelis carried out on Wednesday for Israel's government-run radio and translated by the Independent Media Review and Analysis group, 67 percent of those polled said they were pleased that Bush had been re-elected.

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