November 18, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 815

Arab Media Reactions to President Bush's Re-Election

November 18, 2004
Special Dispatch No. 815

President George W. Bush's re-election and the Republican Party's victory elicied diverse reactions in the Arab media. While some columnists expressed their disappointment with the election results or their hopes that President Bush would change his policy during his second term, others articulated their satisfaction with Bush's re-election and even called on the Arab world to take a page out of the book of American-style democracy. The following is a review of the reactions in the Arab media:

Criticism and Threats Following Bush's Re-Election

Bush's Re-Election Will Escalate the Situation

In an article titled 'To the Shelters, It's Bush!' Josef Samaha, editor of the pro-Syrian Lebanese daily Al-Safir, wrote: "President Bush will continue forward, armed with a power of attorney from the [American] people. [In his] second [term,] Bush will make us long for Bush [of the] first [term,] just as Bush Jr. made us long for Bush Sr…" [1]

Sate' Nur Al-Din, Al-Safir columnist, wrote: "This is a black day in world history, and its evil results are not limited solely to the Arab and Islamic world, which is the most prominent target of the U.S.'s agenda. There are capitals in Europe and Asia which at this very time are planning to dig trenches and open up the shelters…

"In an unknown location on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the people are merry, and can now declare that they have in effect triumphed over the U.S. by driving it crazy and causing it to lose its way…" [2]

Walid Abu Bakr, columnist for the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam, wrote: "In the next four years, there will be no joy among the Arabs… In its fundamentalism, the conservative U.S. does not differ from any other fundamentalism on the face of the earth, including that of those whom the U.S. is fighting. In the Palestinian areas, there is no hope; these will be years of drought, from which the Palestinians will suffer if they continue to seek justice from the evil ones – since the American president did not act justly following the previous elections in which the Arabs voted for him and the Jews voted against him…" [3]

The Iranian Foreign Ministry's English-language mouthpiece Tehran Times, which is close to Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei, claimed that "Bush's re-election indicates that after the September 11 terrorist attacks the American people are still suffering from a nightmare caused by the expansion of terrorism throughout the world. " Bush's re-election, the paper stated, "connotes that the world will witness the expansion of tensions, skirmishes, and terrorist attacks for another four years." The paper advised Bush to "moderate his former policies in the Middle East, refrain from repeating his former mistakes, and avoid all-out support for the Zionist regime so that the region can gradually move toward the total elimination of terrorism. " [4]

The Election Results Proved that American Society is Fundamentalist

Palestinian columnist Hani Habib wrote in the PA daily Al-Ayyam: "I, like others in Palestine and in the Arab continent, wished for Bush's defeat. But we ignored the most important element that could determine the American people's choice. This was the popular American character, which transforms every American citizen into [someone who sees himself] above international law and who lacks any consideration of others' interests, including those of his allies. Each American has become so patriotic that he can see no one else…

"It is America that sends its sons to war to kill and destroy everywhere. It is America that has reverted to the language of the American South prior to the War of Independence [ sic ], it is the America of slavery… It is true that America is divided [in its opinions], but the majority supports the return of slavery on the international level. In accordance with this method, every American has slaves – but the slaves are not in America, except for those from the Third World. [They are] 'suspects' in the eyes of the laws of the war on terror that were invented [during] Bush's first term…" [5]

Columnist Mazen Hammad wrote in the Qatari daily Al-Watan: "What happened is regrettable, but it happened, despite all the mistakes and crimes committed by the Bush administration, and despite all the lies it published. This alone constitutes undeniable proof that the Americans have become more right-wing and more religious, that they have increased their desire to avenge the September 11 events, and that they have become more willing to sacrifice blood and money in order to pursue Osama bin Laden, Al-Qa'ida, and everything the administration defines as terror everywhere in the world." [6]

Dubious Extremist Organization Threatens U.S. Following Bush's Re-Election

On November 4, 2004, a communiqué was issued by an organization calling itself the Abu Hafs Al-Masri Brigades – an Al-Qa'ida organization in Europe, whose actual existence is doubtful. The communiqué states: "The re-election of the criminal Bush – who is in no way different from the other leaders of that country which made efforts to murder Muslims everywhere – will not prevent Jihad warriors from striking the fortresses of the leader of unbelief, and will not be an obstacle to those lying in wait who have defended and are still defending this religion.

"Bush and Kerry are two sides of the same coin. Each has his own black history that will cling to him until Judgment Day. Ultimately, the American people is the one that will bear the burden of the results of its president's policy over the next four years.

"To the American people, [we say]: The coming days will prove that that with which you were pleased will drag you into an insufferable hell, and that [despite] your unifying around this criminal [Bush], he will not realize for you the security that you seek, and will not prevent the Jihad warriors from reaching your fortresses." [7]

Positive Reactions to Bush's Re-Election

Hope for Change in American Policy

Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhlallah, who is also the former editor of the regime newspaper Teshreen, stated: "The Americans certainly will know that there is no place for or use in pressuring Syria, and that dialogue is the best way to achieve concrete results and understanding between the two countries [i.e. the U.S. and Syria]… We hope that the upcoming period of President Bush's [term] will be one of more objectivity regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict."

He went on to say that Bush's re-election was "an expression of the American people's will" and that Syria "respects the will, and hopes that the U.S. respects the will of all the peoples, [as will be reflected] by their internal choices." [8]

An editorial in the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour read: "The American president is freer during his second and last term… He is freed from the Zionist lobby, and is more concerned about U.S. interests. This is how it was during Clinton's second term, when he acted to achieve a Palestinian-Israeli agreement, and not out of love for the Arabs… Thus, Bush's re-election is preferable as far as the Arabs and Muslims are concerned – because if Kerry had been elected, his situation would have been no better, and he would have surrendered to the Zionists.

"Similarly, there is hope that during his second term, Bush will act to rein in his policy, reduce his hostility toward the Arabs, and pay some of the bill for their support of him in 2004…" [9]

The Saudi daily Al-Watan wrote in an editorial: "With Bush's re-election, the world in general and the Middle Eastern countries in particular hope that this time the Bush administration will adopt a policy of peace instead of the policy of war it employed during the previous four years… This time, Bush has an historic opportunity that will not recur. Now the widest doors are open to him to enter history as a president of peace, after entering it as a president of war.

"It would be just for Bush, this time, to give a policy of peace a chance, so that the American people and the peoples of the entire world will pluck the fruits [of this policy]. This, after he gave enough of a chance to a policy of war during his first term, in whose fire the entire world was burned, particularly the peoples of the Middle East region." [10]

Bush's Victory is a Victory for Proper U.S. Middle East Policy

Liberal columnist Shaker Al-Nabulsi wrote on the liberal website "Congratulations to President Bush on his landslide victory in the presidential election. Congratulations to the Republican Party for its landslide success in Congress. This is the first time in the history of America that the Republican Party has gained a landslide victory for the presidency and Congress alike. This landslide victory is the victory of American policy on the Middle East, particularly regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, and the war on terror.

"The American people, [who number] over 100 million voters, elected the president of human freedom who liberated Iraq and Afghanistan and promised to establish a Palestinian state in 2005. [They also elected] the son of the one who previously liberated Kuwait.

"The Arab-Americans who voted for Kerry made a mistake, as we said before. They always put their eggs in a basket full of holes, due to lack of clear and clean political vision, lack of knowledge, and failure to read history properly…" [11]

On U.S. Democracy

U.S. Democracy is Fake

In an article titled 'America: Between Delusions of Power and Democracy,' columnist Suleiman Abu Suwailim wrote in the Jordanian daily Al-Ra'i: "The [American] democracy is based on forgery and deception, and on competition [among the candidates] in their election campaign over killing Arabs and Muslims, whom they consider terrorists; over the occupation of their [Arab and Muslim] land; and over plundering their [Arab and Muslim] resources without any legal justification.

"This is democracy that contradicts what they say, because [this democracy] is against freedom, peace, security, and stability in the world. [This democracy], which is directed by a staff of intelligence [personnel], is based on incitement, surprise, and deception. We have seen how war was declared on Iraq [based on] false intelligence reports and invented claims…" [12]

Jawwad Al-Bashiti, a Palestinian political commentator in Jordan, wrote an op-ed titled 'The Democratic Regime of Which the U.S. Is Proud': "We admit that the political regime in the U.S. is more democratic than the democratic regimes elected in our Arab world. [However,] this regime has capabilities for peacefully controlling the will of the voter, who goes to the polling booths under the delusion that he is voting in a completely free election – because no one forces him to vote for Bush or Kerry – but finds himself obligated to vote for one of them, or to stay home.

"The voter is always forced to choose and vote for the representatives of the same group that controls 90% of the national resources, although it does not constitute more than 10% of the number of inhabitants. Bush rules democratically over a country that rules the world, or tries to rule it, imperialistically." [13]

The Arabs Must Learn from the U.S. Electoral System

Journalist Hassan Younes wrote in the Qatari daily Al-Watan: "The American elections are an important and sad lesson that the Arab world does not study, and in which it makes do with observer status and expresses its hopes for the victory of the candidate that it thinks will realize its own interests…

"The Americans are voting for everything: president, legislature, governors of states, judges, education superintendents, and many officials. This, while the money-hungry ones in the Arab world scrap amongst themselves to gain the ruler's pleasure and a job – by means of which they will be able to plunder and steal everything within reach.

"The American elections are an opportunity for soul-searching in the Arab world, so that [we will be able to] establish a new regime to reflect the expectations and true will of the people. Only democracy can correct what exists, and only [through democracy] is it possible to find solutions to painful and unsolved problems – including, of course, the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"Had there been such democracy in Iraq, neither the first nor the second Gulf War would have broken out. [Also,] neither the invasion and occupation of this Arab country [i.e. Iraq], nor the disintegration and the destruction which we witness today, would have taken place…" [14]

Criticizing the Arab Media's Lack of Objectivity in Election Coverage

Columnist Ahmad Al-Rab'I, wrote in his article 'The Defeat of Kerry and the Arab Media' in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "President Bush's landslide victory in the American presidential elections, the flooding of Congress and the Senate with Republicans, [Bush's] control of political decision-making, and President Bush's winning the largest number ever of popular votes in the history of the United States – [all these] proved the disappointment and superficiality of most of the Arab media across the Arab world.

"Anyone who followed the [Arab] media … might think that Kerry would win by a landslide – How could it be otherwise, because President Bush as depicted by the Arab media is a failed president hated by the American people. Further, he is an idiot who led to the impoverishment of the Americans and to their entanglement in wars…

"The catastrophe of the Arab media is this mixing of what the media wants and dreams of with reality. [This] mixing of personal ideas and accurate information is self-deception, and deception of the public.

"From the defeat of 1967 [the Six-Day War] to the toppling of Saddam and Bush's victory, the Arab media has presented things wrongly to the people, and the result is always deception of the public. The 1967 war, depicted by the Arab media from the very first hours as a crushing victory... ended in a shameful defeat, in which Israel conquered all the Palestinian areas along with Arab areas.

"The dissemination of the theory of the possibility of Saddam's victory over America ended with the fall of Baghdad within a few days, while their presentation of Bush as a fool hated by the American people ended in his crowning, again, as president of the world's board of directors.

"The disaster is that some of the Arab media presented Kerry as a man who defends Arabs, without telling people anything about his anti-Arab racism, particularly his racist statements about Saudi Arabia – and without saying a word about his demand to stop being dependent upon Arab oil.

"Until we act objectively … without mixing reality and imagination, the Arab public will remain the big loser and the primary victim of its inciting media…" [15]

[1] Al-Safir (Lebanon), November 4, 2004.

[2] Al-Safir (Lebanon), November 4, 2004.

[3] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), November 6, 2004.

[4] Tehran Times (Iran), November 6, 2004.

[5] Al-Ayyam (PA), November 7, 2004.

[6] Al-Watan (Qatar), November 5, 2004.

[7], On this organization's lack of credibility, see MEMRI Assessing the Credibility of the 'Abu Hafs Al-Masri Brigades' Threats, August 10, 2004, 'Assessing the Credibility of the 'Abu Hafs Al-Masri Brigades' Threats.'

[8] Champress, (Syria), November 6, 2004.

[9] Al-Dustour (Jordan), November 5, 2004.

[10] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), November 4, 2004.

[11], November 4, 2004.

[12] Al-Ra'i (Jordan), November 5, 2004.

[13] Al-Ayyam (PA), November 6, 2004.

[14] Al-Watan (Qatar), November 4, 2004.

[15] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 7, 2004.

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