Distracted US Finds Mideast Clout Waning

With clock ticking on Bush administration, hard-line tactics fail
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2008 3:45 PM CDT
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, embraces Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, as he welcomes him for a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Monday, May 26, 2008.    (AP Photo/ Mehr News Agency, Sajjad Safari)
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(Newser) – The Bush Administration's problems are hardly confined to abysmal domestic approval ratings, writes veteran Reuters journalist Jonathan Wright. Middle Eastern leaders are paying less and less attention to the lame-duck president, who spoke of the need to isolate Hamas during a visit to Egypt last week—even as his host was mediating discussions between Israel and Gaza.

Israel is also holding talks with Syria, as is France, despite US attempts to isolate the country. Hezbollah has ascended in Lebanon despite Bush’s best efforts. And every nation ignores Bush on human rights, having learned that there’s little danger in doing so. “We've heard these speeches before,” said an Egyptian official, dismissing the president’s call to release political prisoners.