9 November 2003

Indignant Arabs Say Bush Democracy Speech a Sham

"Bush's speech is like a boring, broken record that nobody believes,'' said Gulf-based political analyst Moghazy al-Badrawy.

"He wants democracy and the U.S. is occupying Iraq and its ally Israel is killing Palestinians? Arabs just don't buy it.''

Abdel-Monem Said, director of Egypt's Al-Ahram Center for Political Strategic Studies, said the perceived U.S. dishonesty in justifying the Iraq war had also tarnished its credibility.

"Democracy is all about legalities, rule of law and legitimacy,'' he said. "There is an issue of double standards.''

Mohammad al-Bsairi, a Kuwaiti member of parliament and spokesman for the Gulf state's Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters Washington's blind bias for Israel -- battling a Palestinian independence uprising -- also flew in the face of democracy.

No-one should be surprised by the Arab reaction. The real surprise is why the White House might think the speech would be received well in Arab countries, by the elites or their oppositions.

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