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Annapolis: The View from the Middle East

With leaders and politicians from the Middle East and far afield meeting in Annapolis, US, over brokering a peace deal between Israel and its Arab neighbours, the mood remains somber, skeptical and pessimistic among bloggers from the region.

Here's what bloggers from the region are writing:

Palestine: Superfluous Promises

Palestinian Lelia Haddad doesn't hide her pessimism when she admits that people in Gaza don't expect much from the peace talks. She explains:

The conference simply generates new and ever-more superfluous and intricate promises which Israeli leaders can commit to and yet somehow evade. An exercise in legal obfuscation at its best: we won't build new settlements, we'll just expropriate more land and expand to account for their “natural growth,” until they resemble towns, not colonies, and have them legitimized by a US administration looking for some way to save face. And then we'll promise to raze outposts.

Al Haddad further adds:

So then what are people's expectations in Gaza from all of this?

In short, not much. But then, if history has taught them anything, it's that they never have much of a say in anything that involves their destiny, be it Madrid or Oslo or the Road Map. And the moment they do attempt to take control, the repercussions are to “teach” them never to attempt to do so again.

Syria: Palestinians Excluded from Peace
Syrian blogger Omar agrees citing a news site as to how irrelevant the peace talks are for Palestinians on the ground. He posts the following screen shot from Al Jazeera's website and explains:

A Screenshot of the BBC news online site by Syrian blogger Omar
Photo credit: Omar

The image shows the current RSS feed from Aljazeera.net
the first item translates:
Work is underway in Annapolis, Bush considers Annapolis as the ideal time for negotiations
The second item:
Six martyrs in an Israeli raid on Gaza
I guess Palestinians living in Gaza are excluded from the negotiations underway.

Israel: Remaining Skeptical
Meanwhile Bert, from Israel, says he is skeptical about the success of the Annapolis conference. He also notes the increased security in Israel. He adds:

Like most people in Israel I remain skeptical about the chances of success for Annapolis, and I have my doubts about the whole conference making sense. Still, maybe, just maybe, Ehud Olmert and others are right when they say that the mere fact that this circus takes place is in a way a success and a victory. I thought this when this afternoon I was doing some shopping with our two youngest children. In the shopping center I saw a policeman and -woman patrolling, and I noticed some kind of (semi)automatic gun hanging from the man's shoulder, with the magazine inside. I approached the two and asked if there was a reason for these special precautions. They smiled politely and said quietly “Annapolis”. Every time that Palestinians or other Arabs are seen talking the fanatics, theirs and ours, basically suffer a defeat. I do not have to point out what their victories look like.

Lebanon: Summoned by the Master
The Angry Arab or Dr As'ad Abu Khalil says Arabs attended the event because they were summoned to it by their ‘master’ Bush. He writes:

The New York Times is filled with “analysis” and quotations and citations as to why the Arab governments decided to attend. Some were saying that it was due to fear of Iran, others said it was fear of global warming, and other insisted it was fear of ghosts. The truth is much simpler. Arab governments, including Syria, decided to attend because they were summoned by master Bush.

Egypt: Illusion of Peace Process
The Arabist, from Egypt, says the meeting merely presents an “illusion of a peace process.” He notes:

I mean, is there anything more to Annapolis than providing a mechanism for boosting Mahmoud Abbas while keeping the Palestinian Authority subservient to Israel and the US, thus isolating Hamas and preparing the ground for booting it out of Gaza? And in the meantime recreating the illusion of a peace process Palestinians will never credibly endorse while divided and many in the Israeli political establishment (and certainly the current ruling coalition) have no intention of ever finalizing? Or am I missing something? The NYT could celebrate that if it wanted to, but enough with the @^%^$.

Mideast Youth: Middle Ground
Writing in Mideast Youth, Ray Hanania is urging both the Palestinians and Israelis to give peace a chance. He explains:

There is a middle ground and I suggest that Palestinians and Israelis BOTH start defining it better than they have. Let’s speak openly, not just criticizing each other, but criticizing ourselves. Palestinians need to be honest about the failures of their side, and Israelis need to be honest about the injustices committed by their side int he name of “defending” themselves.
I am hopeful, even if the legion of pessimists and extremists out there are trashing hopes for peace.

Bahrain: Let's Hope
Ammar, from Bahrain, is hopeful too. He writes:

It's started; let's hope for the best. This conference has caused a few sparks, so we'll just have to wait and see if it comes out with any useful solution.

In an earlier post, Ammar also wrote:

Sure, a lot of skepticism surrounds the conference, but there is always the opportunity that something useful may come out of it. Let's hope.

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