Bush's democracy project backfires:
Washington's Sunni client regimes - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the statelets of the Gulf - now cower in the face of a combustible cocktail of strident Shiite ambition and intense Arab resentment at their dependence on the US and at Washington's guardianship of Israel.
Over the weekend, the US Secretary of State presented the Lebanon crisis as "the birth pangs of a new Middle East".
By her own choice of words, Rice is midwife to a new order that some in the region see as the old order. They believed the US promise of democracy was about personal freedom rather than entrenching the autocrats who now plead to Washington that this democracy project wasn't such a good idea after all. Fawaz Trabulsi, a professor of history and international studies at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, told the Herald: "The slogan of the regimes now is stability. As guardians of the status quo, the US is their main source of legitimacy - not the people of their nations.
"These leaders spend time on cosmetic democratic reforms. But the concessions they make are to Washington, not to their own people." ...
Washington's client regimes came out directly against Hezbollah and obliquely against Iran last week.
However, despite their well-practised efforts to silence dissent, the backlash could be heard in the mosques of the region ahead of news of more bombs for Israel. "Our brothers are being killed in Lebanon and no one is responding to their cries for help," said Sheik Hazzaa al-Maswari in his Friday sermon at the Mujahid Mosque in the Yemeni capital, Sana.
"Where are the Arab leaders?" he said. "Do they have any skill other than begging for a fake peace outside the White House? We don't want leaders who bow to the White House." Broadcast live from the holy city of Mecca, a Saudi preacher, Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, challenged Washington directly: "Where are those who filled the world with slogans of freedom and democracy? Don't they fear that history will condemn them for their double standards?"