[News] Arabs wary of Bush's 'freedom' speech

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Fri Jan 21 11:59:13 EST 2005

Arabs wary of Bush's 'freedom' speech
Friday 21 January 2005 3:43 PM GMT

George Bush's pledge to spread liberty around the globe has earned a frosty 
reception in the Arab world, with observers dismissing as hollow rhetoric 
his insistence on promoting freedom.

On Friday analysts warned that the US president's ambition to promote 
democracy would only be regarded with suspicion in the Middle East so long 
as Iraq is plagued by violence after the US-led invasion.

An Arab professor of political science drew parallels between the words of 
Bush and Usama bin Ladin, saying the president had made the word freedom 
banal in the same way as the al-Qaida leader had the word jihad.

"The two men have both invoked their favourite concepts without ever 
putting them into practice," Assad Abu Khalil, who works in the United 
States, told Aljazeera.

Simplistic solutions

He said Bush's notion of freedom as the solution is just as simplistic as 
the belief of Islamists that Islam is the solution in a region largely 
ruled by totalitarian regimes that reject religious extremism.

"By wanting to explain all through freedom, Bush ends up explaining 
nothing. We need to see how the idea of liberty can be translated into 
effective policies," he said.

"The export of democracy is in no way a military operation."

In a speech marking his inauguration on Thursday to a second, four-year 
term, Bush said the United States would support the growth of democracy 
"with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world".

"We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of 
liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other 
lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in 
all the world."

He did not name any countries specifically – not even Iraq - but Vice 
President Dick Cheney told US media that Iran was "right at the top of the 
list" of trouble spots.


Egyptian writer and analyst Abd al-Karim al-Karimi said Bush's lavish 
"coronation ceremony" was a throwback to the colonial era and lambasted the 
president's address for promoting "democracy without content".

"All the world talks about liberty, but what liberty is it? What is the 
meaning of the democracy and the political liberties that the United States 
wants to impose in the Middle East. Bush does not say," he told Egyptian 

For Iraqi analyst Abd al-Hussain Shaaban the US administration has lost its 
credibility to promote democracy after launching an invasion of Iraq that 
two years on has left the country lacking the most basic security.

"The United States is closing its eyes towards dictators who serve its own 
interests but attacks those that damage it," he added, in a reference to 
key US ally Saudi Arabia.

"The fact that Iraq is in chaos and under military occupation does not bode 
well for democracy coming to the country and to the Middle East."

Aljazeera + Agencies

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