Babylon & Beyond

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MIDDLE EAST: Bush's Iraq speech leaves a bad taste

March 20, 2008 |  8:45 am

Safir While President Bush defended his decision to invade Iraq tooth and nail, media in the Arab world lambasted the U.S. war for unleashing disasters, divisions and terror.

Bush was addressing defense officials at the Pentagon on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq.

A fiery editorial in today's edition of the English-language Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star rebuked Bush for blaming the destruction of Iraq on the Iraqi people:

The Bush administration and its apologists like to blame Al-Qaeda for all the chaos that has plagued Iraqis since 2003, but it was Bush and his advisers who brought terrorism to Iraq.... They have helped keep it there, as well, by consistently failing to provide many of the benefits they promised as mitigating factors for the nightmare they unleashed: Millions of people have been displaced, millions more are unemployed.

Another editorial in the Dubai-based Gulf News daily criticized the "horrifying" US mismanagement of Iraq after the invasion:

Any improvements discussed by Bush today do not change the fact that Iraqis continue to suffer from this war. Five years on, the war-torn country faces the same horrors inflicted upon it in 2003. The Iraq war will haunt future generations.

In an op-ed article published by the Saudi-owned London-based daily Al Hayat, Abdullah Iskandar said that the war did not only impoverish Iraq but also opened the door for crises across the region:

Five years after the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, the outcome boils down to nothing more than multidimensional catastrophes.... The repercussions of the invasion and the occupation have left and will continue to leave deep marks across the entire region.... The demons of sectarianism have been let loose out of the guts of history in their pursuit of their lost kingdoms.

Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: Today's front page of the Lebanese daily al Safir featured a photo of U.S. demonstrators protesting the war. Credit: Borzou Daragahi