However the trip itself was not only a protocol event but had a number of serious goals. The main goal was to improve the image of the USA deteriorated gravely due to the war in Iraq and confrontation with Iran.
Therefore one of the purposes of the trip was to determine " an Iranian vector " of the Washington’s foreign policy. Despite of declared own "peace-making" aspirations the USA stands for solution of the Iranian problem by force. But this time, to avoid recurrence of the Iraq scenario, the American President intended to get support of " the Middle East dreadnoughts”.
We have to remind that at the very beginning of his visit the American President claimed that Iran still " poses a threat to the world community and is a main sponsor of the international terrorism ". This statement has triggered ambiguous reaction in the Middle East, that, in the opinion of certain experts, became one of the reasons why the American “envoy of peace " was welcomed rather coldly.
Besides neither Saudi Arabia, nor Egypt supported the solution of the Iranian problem by force, however they confirmed their concern with the nuclear program of Teheran. Moreover, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt let the President know that they stand categorically against any attempts to transfer the Iranian problem from the diplomatic to the military domain. In particular, Emir Saud al-Faisal, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, claimed that "Iran is a great country, our good neighbor, and we do not have any contradictions with it".
Concerning the Iraq problem that was also discussed during the Bush visit, Saudi Arabia, according to Egyptian newspaper "Al-Ahram", considers that current Iraqi Prime Minister Shiah Nuri al-Maliki is an Iranian agent of influence (during the Saddam Husain rule Nuri Al-Maliki lived in emigration in Iran for a long time, and now, according to certain sources, maintains contacts with the Iranian leadership). Ryad advocates re-appointment of former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Alavi removed from power on the personal insistence of the US President. According to the same sources, Saudi Arabia privately finances so-called " Sunni Councils", operating in the territory of Iraq and having their own armed brigades. According to official data, so far these brigades operate only against combatants of “Al-Quaeda” but in need they may take also independent steps against Sunnites, the unwanted American protégé.
A separate agenda item at negotiations of Bush with King of Saudi Arabia was a US President’s request to the OPEC countries to increase oil production and reduce oil prices. According to President Bush, it "would improve functioning of the American economy and the world market as a whole ". Besides, during the visit the parties reach agreements on supplies of the American weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries to an amount of US$ 20 billion.
The US stand with respect to Iran was unequivocally supported only in Israel that elaborates plans of joint military operations against Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert even claimed that the Israeli intelligence denied the recent estimate of their American colleagues and confirmed that Iran will become a nuclear power within several months.
Nevertheless, experts are not inclined to believe that the US - Israeli military operation is possible in the near future. According to certain sources, the USA is waiting for results of the Mejlis election in March 2008 that may change disposition of political forces in Iran.
Having failed to achieve positive dynamics with respect to the unequivocal decision of " the Iranian problem ", the American leader made efforts to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict within the framework of the notorious "road map".
Let's remind that “the Road Map " developed by so-called "Quartet" of international radiators (USA, Russia, EU and UNO) within the framework of the Middle East settlement, has a main goal to achieve an agreement on establishment of the independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank of the Jordan River. It was accepted by Israel in 2003, however since that time it has not been developed substantially.
Nevertheless, President Bush again confirmed the American stand that the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict needs strict fulfillment of “the Road Map”. At the same time according to the American leader, provision of Israeli security remains the top priority of the American policy in the Middle East, in so doing, the US President emphasized that “establishment of the Palestinian state will strengthen regional stability and will improve security of the Israeli people".
According to the Arabian press, for this purpose Washington sees ways to deploy “third force’s” troops, i.e. NATO or Arab states, in the areas outlined for establishment of the Palestinian state, in the period after withdrawal of the Israeli troops until instituting control of the Palestinian authorities..
At the same time there was no progress on the key issues of the Palestinian problem - borders of the future Palestinian state (according to "the Road Map", Israel should withdraw its troops from the territories occupied in 1967), right of the Palestinian refugees to return, status of Jerusalem, demolition of illegally built Israeli settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the eastern part of Jerusalem, removal of the Israeli outposts (more than 650 in total).
It is necessary to note that these days the right-wing and religious parties objecting to even an opportunity to discuss these issues become more influential in the Israeli society. Nevertheless, according to certain sources, President Bush succeeded in mediation of an agreement between Ehud Olmert and Head of the Palestinian Administration Mahmud Abbas that the Israeli Army will conduct an operation to force the HAMAS combatants out of the Gaza Strip and then hand these areas over under the control of the Mahmud Abbas’ Administration thus to start liquidation of HAMAS as a political force.
However alongside with these positive shifts Israel is not going to abandon the construction of illegal settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River, economic blockade of the Gaza Strip and armed confrontation with a military wing of HAMAS, Brigades of Iz ad-Din al-Quasam and combatants of Islamic Jihad.
On the last day of the Bush’s visit, Israel brought to nothing the achieved arrangements when it launched a large-scale military operation using the aircraft in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank of the Jordan River. The need of such operation was justified by regular firing on the Israeli territory by the combatants of Islamic Jihad. During the operation dozens of Palestinians were killed including a son of Mahmud az-Zahar, Foreign Minister in the HAMAS Government. In return, Haled Mashal, a leader of the HAMAS Political Bureau, has regarded the Israeli actions as “an aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip" and claimed that the armistice between HAMAS and Israel existing until than moment is terminated.
According to the Arabian press watching the visit of the American President, it is impossible to say that the image of the USA in the Middle East has changed positively. For instance, the Kuwaiti newspaper "Ar-Rai" wrote: " Our region needs wise initiatives of the USA, instead of smart bombs ". The Bahrain mass media quoted from a open letter written to President Bush signed by 13 public organizations and almost by half of the members of the Bahrain Parliament where they state that Bush under the pretext of the war on terror "conducts a war on Islam and Moslems.” The reaction of the American society to the Bush’s trip was rather contradictory. For instance, Hillary Clinton criticized Bush that “he hopes for the foreign oil too much”. It is necessary to note also the fact that during the visit of the American President to Saudi Arabia, the USA witnessed several rallies protesting against Bush’s deals on supply of sophisticated American weapons to “the Arab regimes that may pose a threat to Israel.”