Saturday, November 24, 2007

Middle East 'Experts' Surprised by Arab League attendance at Annapolis

Arab Commentators: Egg on the face?

From Adel Darwish 

Arab Commentators are left with egg on their faces by Saudi Arabia's 11th hour change of heart on the decision to attend Annapolis conference after early signals indicated that they were likley to stay away.  

Saudi Arabia change of heart yesterday  ( Friday November 23) and agreeing to  attend the next week American sponsored conference on the Middle East in Annapolis has left many Arab commentators with an egg on their face, to say the least.

It was no problem for the usual suspects ( Arab Nationalists & Baathists  Islamists jihadists, Marxists and the general anti-Semitic and anti American) who have always objected to any  form of dialogue or meeting with the Israelis that would get any Muslim or whoever they consider to be Arab to recognise Israel. Their reaction was expected.  But the Saudis changing their mind at the 11th hour created a dilemma for many of commentators who in principles didn't object  dialogue with Israel, reject terrorism and support Palestinian Israel agreements. Many of those commentators, writing for Saudi or Saudi sponsored newspapers, have been critical of the conference and warning that it would achieve nothing, but a photo opportunity.

Some argued that America has lost credibility as an 'honest broker' that can neutrally mediate between the Palestinians and the Israelis because 'Washington has always supported Israel' which is a stock Arab view for half a century; and those were not as embarrassed as others who's criticism of the conference stemmed of their belief that their comment must always reflect what they perceived as the Saudi position.

Believing  that Saudi Arabia didn't think much of the proposed conference,  commentators lined up  to condemn the conference as an 'American Israeli plot' to undermined the Saudi initiated 'Arab peace plan' adopted in the Arab League  (AL) Beirut summit, and continued to say so until Friday afternoon.

Obviously their words of wisdom were scribed a day or two before Saudi Foreign Secretary Prince Saud Alfaisal announced yesterday that his nation would after all attend the conference.

Same also goes for Arab nationalist commentators who, for years, have been cheerleaders for AL Secretary General Dr Amr Musa's anti-Israeli rhetoric as the latter  also announced, in the same press conference like Prince Saud, yesterday, that AL will attend the conference as a whole to give peace a chance and test the Jewish state's commitment.

It will be interesting to see how those commentators will manage to scrape the egg off their faces!  

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