The fiasco of Powell’s Mideast mission

People’s Daily web site analyzed the results of Colin Powell’s Mideast tour from three positions: from Washington, from Cairo, and from Beijing.

The publication was prepared in the form of a dialogue between three journalists: international department editor Xu Hongzhi, Ren Yujun - correspondent to the United States, and Xu Ping - correspondent to Egypt.

The first one of them offered his colleagues to talk about Powell’s assertion that his mediation to the Middle East was successful:

Xu Hongzhi: US Secretary of State Colin Powell's Middle East tour came to an end on April 17. He visited in succession Morocco, Egypt, Spain, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. When interviewed by journalists on April 17, Powell said his Mideast visit was successful. Please tell me what's your view about this.

Ren Yujun answered: Powell's Mideast tour this time had neither got Israel and Palestine to reach a cease-fire agreement, nor Israel to promise withdrawal of its troops from Palestine-controlled areas. Many US media use such phrases as "no breakthroughs", "without results" and even the words "came back empty-handed" to sum up Powell's Mideast visit. As expected, Powell's recent Mideast visit could hardly achieve anything. Judged from his talks two times with Arafat, the conditions he raised to the Palestinian side can be described as "without reasons", these conditions are hardly acceptable and are impossible to fulfil for Arafat. Since the end of March, Arafat has lost his personal freedom, thus making it very difficult for him to see even his assistants. Under such circumstances, how is it possible to "remove the facilities of the terrorists" and stop "incidents of suicidal explosions?" As analysis puts it Israel's attacks on Palestine can be described as "following America's footsteps".

Xu Ping: Powell's Mideast tours do fail to achieve the anticipated results. Powell's mediation in the end greatly disappointed the Arab side, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak even refused to meet with Powell. The Arab world insists that the just struggle against Israel's occupation cannot be regarded as terrorist action. Powell noted that his mediation efforts had not ended, but instead would go on; although no concrete time was fixed, he would soon return to the Middle East. In doing so the United States naturally has its aim. It wants to maintain the international anti-terror league and will carry out military attacks on Iraq at an opportune time.

Ren Yujun: US decision on asking Israel to withdraw its troops from the Palestinian territory and dispatching Powell to visit the Middle East, was not made by the Bush administration on its own initiative, but because what Sharon has done has seriously affected US reputation in the Arab world and its "anti-terrorist strategy".

We have to add here that not only specialists foresaw Powell’s fiasco. People’s Daily conducted an opinion poll before Powell’s meetings with Sharon and Arafat, and over 60% of respondents said that Powell’s mediation could not bring any good.

Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing

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