Egyptian Diplomat Rebuts Bush's Views on Mideast

(Washington Post) Daniel Williams - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Wednesday offered a point-by-point rebuttal of President Bush's argument that the Middle East is opening to an era of democracy stimulated by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Aboul Gheit criticized Bush's speech Tuesday in which he listed elections held by Iraqis and Palestinians and anti-Syrian demonstrations in Lebanon as signs that "clearly and suddenly, the thaw has begun" in the largely authoritarian Middle East. "What model are we talking about in Iraq? Bombs are exploding everywhere, and Iraqis are killed every day in the streets," Aboul Gheit said. "Palestinian elections? There were elections seven years prior." As for Lebanon, Aboul Gheit noted Tuesday's huge pro-Syrian demonstration mounted by Hizballah, showing that "there are other trends in society." Aboul Gheit warned that U.S. pressure might lead ethnically and religiously divided Lebanon into chaos. Aboul Gheit expressed irritation at reports that Secretary of State Rice canceled a trip to Egypt because of its slow pace of reform. She called off a trip to the region, not just to Egypt, he insisted.

2005-03-11 00:00:00

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