Monday, August 27, 2007

Perspective: Middle East leaders look toward end of Bush term

Above: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia addresses a summit of the Arab League in March, at which he condemned the presence of American forces in Iraq as an "illegitimate foreign occupation".

One recent morning, Dr. Eyad Sarraj, a Palestinian rights activist, offered this assessment of what the future holds for the Gaza Strip now that the Islamist group Hamas has taken control:

"For two years, Gaza will suffer even more," said Sarraj, a British-trained psychiatrist who founded Gaza's mental health system. Then, he said, President George W. Bush and his advisers will be gone. A new U.S. administration will talk to Hamas and so will the Israelis.

"They'll have to," he said, "because they'll have seen that Hamas can deliver."

That calculus — that the end of the Bush administration is approaching and things will be different afterward — now underpins political thought throughout much of the Middle East. With 17 months to go in Bush's second term, political leaders in the region are anticipating his departure and preparing for change.

Read the rest at the Post-Dispatch