Grassroots International colleague Institute for Policy Studies’ Phyllis Bennis is a long time scholar of Middle East policy, having written and spoken widely on the politics of the region and U.S. Middle East policy. In a recent article on the talks beginning today in Annapolis, MD, she pointed out that “Besides her [Condoleezza Rice’s] urgent need to update her legacy (which is currently that of the person who stood before the world at the United Nations and announced ‘we don’t want a ceasefire yet’ as Israeli jets bombarded Lebanon in summer 2006), Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urgently needs to win flagging Arab government support for the Bush administration’s failing war and occupation in Iraq and its escalating mobilization against Iran.
While most Arab governments remain quite happy to join the U.S. crusade, their people do not share support for the occupation of Iraq or for the anti-Iranian fervor now ascendant in Washington. As a result, the unpopular and often unstable Arab regimes (absolute monarchies, family dynasties and military regimes masquerading as democracies) must provide some kind of concession for the Arab rulers to pacify their restive populations. The latest version is to offer a high-profile (however low the results) diplomatic show aimed at allowing Arab governments to announce that the U.S. is now helping to give the Palestinians a state. As the New York Times described it, ‘now the United States is mired in Iraq and looking for a way to build good will among Arab allies.'”