Sunday, February 29, 2004

# Posted 10:56 AM by Patrick Belton  

COMING ATTRACTIONS: This week, the administration will be pushing its Middle East democracy promotion program with a trip to the region by Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, as well as upcoming discussions about the Greater Middle East Initiative with Nato allies, the G-8, and Turkey. The diplomatic push will be an attempt to win over the support of wary regional governments cautious of what they will be eager to label as American meddling. WaPo presents a summary of what it calls "the most ambitious U.S. democracy effort since the end of the Cold War": in short, it calls for the United States and Europe to press for and assist free elections, foster new independent media, help create a politically literate generation, establish a greater Middle East Development Bank modeled on Europe's postwar Marshall plan model, translate Western classics into Arabic, and give $500 million in loans to small entrepreneurs, especially women, according to the draft report. It is scheduled to be formally released in June, and it follows in broad outline the 1975 model of the Helsinki accords.

By shrewdly laying his Iraq quarrels with Chancellor Schröeder aside, President Bush has secured Germany's support for the intiative. In the opposing camp is Egypt's Mubarak, who has already been travelling the region to ask its autocratic rulers (beginning in Riyadh) for their opposition.
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