Many in the Arab media who supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein—and sometimes braved death threats to do so—now feel betrayed by the incompetent policy that followed: “It’s a success story for al-Qaeda, a success story for autocratic Arab regimes that made democracy look ugly in their people’s eyes.”
The coterie of Arabs who supported the U.S.-led invasion were never the target of expensive American propaganda efforts. Their unpopular stands in the Arab world earned them inboxes full of angry e-mails; a few claimed they got death threats. And nearly four years after the invasion they backed, their sense of frustration, resentment and even betrayal speaks volumes about how withered American standing is in the Middle East today and how far the region itself has deteriorated, riven as it is by escalating conflicts, worsening sectarian tension and a simmering struggle with an ascendant Iran.
“It’s a success story for al-Qaeda, a success story for autocratic Arab regimes that made democracy look ugly in their people’s eyes. They can say to their people: ‘Look at the democracy that the Americans want to bring to you. Democracy is trouble. You may as well forget about what the Americans promise you. They promise you death,’ ” said Salameh Nematt, a Jordanian analyst and the former Washington bureau chief for the Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Hayat.
Added Magdi Khalil, an Egyptian writer and proponent of the invasion, “Everything, everything is very gloomy.”