Corridors of Power

FOREIGN REACTION TO BUSH SPEECH GLOOMY -- If domestic reaction to President Bush's new Iraq strategy has been largely negative, foreign comments have been no better. From Paris to Riyadh, media comment has been critical of the administration's approach and skeptical of its success. An editorial in the leading French newspaper Le Monde began: "Anyone who expected the American president to learn a lesson from the Democratic victory in Congress and from the current chaos in Iraq and overhaul his strategy is disappointed."

But the paper said Bush has at least "abandoned his triumphalist tones." In addition, "gone are the fine dreams of making Iraq a democratic model for the Middle East." An editorial in the Saudi-based paper Arab News called Bush's new strategy "a path to damnation." It called for "dialogue" with Iran and Syria. Arab News added: "The way the occupation has been handled by Washington -- the incompetence, the backhandedness, the arrogant assumption that the U.S. rather then Iraqis can decide and make its future (seen even in little ways like bringing in foreign workers to rebuild the country rather than paying Iraqis to do it, and thus giving them a stake in creating a new Iraq) -- has broken the country."

A Turkish commentator, Cengiz Candar, said the Bush initiative's "main flaw is that it looks too dependent on the cooperation and the competence of the Nouri al-Maliki government that proved to be too sectarian to overcome the sectarian quasi-war in Iraq and also displayed incompetence in tackling the mounting complex problems of its own country." Candar warned that "The Iraq priorities of the U.S. administration and the Turkish government are far apart from each other and a troubled relationship is awaiting Turkish-U.S. relations."

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