11/04/2004, 00.00
Middle East - USA
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The Middle East looks at Bush's victory

Early comments in the Middle East about the re-election of US President George W. Bush are a mixture of cautious optimism, resignation and concern about more violence. Here is a sample of the most significant ones collected by AsiaNews.

Iraq

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Iraqi Premier Iyad Allawi was upbeat. He said that the "US liberated us from a dictator and a very long period of war and agony".  

Ordinary Iraqis are however split between the resigned and the optimists. Sheikh Khalid al-Jumaili, negotiator for the people of Fallujah in talks with Iraq's interim government, said: "If there was the slightest possibility of a change of policy in Iraq, it would have been with Kerry". But Karim Abdul Younis, a doctor, said that "the only reason they can even talk like this so openly is because Saddam was removed."

Israel - Palestine

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israel reacted with satisfaction to Bush's victory. A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that "with Bush's second mandate Israel's pullout [from the Gaza Strip and the northern zone in the West Bank] will proceed more quickly and efficiently".

Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert congratulated "the American people for their choice".

In Paris where he is undergoing medical tests, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said through an aide that he hoped Bush's second term would lead to Middle East peace and "guarantee the just national rights of the Palestinian people".

Given Bush's support for Israel and his war in Iraq most Palestinians would have preferred a Kerry victory. Never the less, according to The Independent newspaper, a survey shows that most Palestinians are largely indifferent to the result of the elections.

Iran

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Mohammad Ali Abtahi, an adviser to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, said that despite his "wrong policies", a Bush victory was "preferable" to that of Kerry.

Saudi Arabia

Ryadh (AsiaNews) – Khaled Maeena, director of Saudi daily Arab News, said that "four more years of Bush means more wars against so-called terrorism and more innocent victims."

Syria

In Syria, Imad Shuaibi, a political science professor at Damascus University, predicts "four years of nightmare again". According to the Daily Star, "many in Syria fear that Bush's foreign policy is likely to mean more violence in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in Iran and Syria".

Jordan

Amman (AsiaNews) – Jordanian government spokeswoman Asma Khader warned the US cannot continue on its present course in the Middle East. "There is a need for a change in US policy toward reactivating the peace process and achieving progress that saves bloodshed of innocent victims and ends Israel's heavy-handed policies toward Palestinians."

Yemen

Şan'ā' (AsiaNews) - In Yemen, Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said his country would continue to cooperate with the winner.

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