Cairo: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Mideast visit is an attempt to shore up support amongst Arab states for American policy in the region, analysts say.
“She’s seeking help from countries of the region in solving American problems, Waheed Abdel-Meguid, head of Arab research at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told The Daily Star Egypt.
US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack had said “It s no secret that we have encouraged states in the region, whether it s Egypt or Saudi Arabia or the other Gulf states, to offer their support to the government of Iraq.
Rice began her trip with a visit to Jerusalem yesterday. Her itinerary also includes stops in Ramallah, Sharm El Sheikh, Amman, Kuwait City and Riyadh.
Although Rice is due to discuss numerous topics with Arab countries and Israel, including current events in Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, McCormack let on that nothing concrete would be finalized in the visit.
He said “I would expect that this is a trip that is more about laying the foundations for potential future actions than actually coming to closure on any particular agreements.
However, McCormack did state that Rice will hold “extended conversations with Arab leaders on how to curb perceived common threats to the region, notably the growing influence of Iran and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as propping support for what were termed moderate governments in Iraq and Lebanon.
Abdel-Meguid believes that Rice’s visit will not offer anything tangible, in a recurrence of her previous visit to the Middle East where “she came and went, and nothing happened.
“She comes carrying the failures of American policy, he said.
Abdel-Meguid added “Nothing will happen. She will not offer solutions. She seeks help from countries in the region to solve American problems which these countries cannot solve. Yet she comes offering no solutions for the problems here.
However, McCormack stated that Rice will look to “exploit this opening that we believe exists in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict during her discussions with the Israelis and Palestinians.
Discussions on Rice’s upcoming visit were held between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak when the two met in Cairo last Wednesday.
Egypt and Jordan want to push for a “final status agreement concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which they hope will replace the existing stalled road map for peace. However, American and Israeli officials favor more short term proposals.