President George W. Bush has been experiencing life in the desert ahead of leaving the United Arab Emirates for Dubai. The US leader, who is half way through his eight day tour of Arab allies, has continued to praise small democratic advances of Gulf nations which are ruled by authoritarian family dynasties.
It is a message well received in the region although his other focus, that of criticism of Iran, has received a muted response.
Speaking earlier in Abu Dhabi, Bush described Tehran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: “ Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. So the United States is strengthening out longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late,” he said.
But most of the countries on the Bush itinerary are trading partners with Iran. Their leaders, including the UAE’s president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, require reassurance that the US will pursue diplomatic solutions rather than military ones.
After Dubai, the next scheduled stops for the US leader are Saudi Arabia and Egypt.