Wednesday, November 19, 2003


Egypt is afraid that Iraq will now be the major Arab power broker, and US ally, in the Middle East.

Egyptian politicians, intellectuals and journalists are worried that their country is losing its status as a major regional player in the Middle East.

For decades, Egypt served as an important bridge between the United States and the Arab world, working to safeguard Washington´s interests in the region while defending the rights of other Arab nations.

But now, those concerned about Cairo´s influence say, the world´s only superpower often bypasses Egypt in its dealings with the Middle East, relying much more on direct contacts with smaller countries instead.

"Indicators of this trend are plenty," journalist Khaled Ezzelarab wrote this month in the Cairo Times, a glossy newsweekly. "Qatar is now the base for the U.S. military´s Central Command; Jordan has signed a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.; Bahrain and Morocco will soon follow," the magazine article noted.

Most significant, Mr. Ezzelarab said, "Baghdad is now connected directly to Washington in a way no other Arab capital can match."

Isn't serendipity great?


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