The Times of London features an extended look at the changing Middle East, offering something for everyone. Bush, the article notes, is widely reviled in the region (there's an anti-Bush drama entitled Vietnam Two now running in Cairo), while Lebanese political journalist Michel Nawfal argues that even if the Iraqi elections were a regional benchmark, the Iraqis were only voting to get rid of the U.S.
Egyptian newspaper publisher Hisham Kassem, on the other hand, thinks that "The Americans have done a wonderful job. It is because of their pressure that we have had this opening in Egypt. Criticising Mubarak was forbidden prior to the pressure they put on him."
A British Arabist named General Sir Peter de la Billiere will either please or frustrate everyone by arguing that "There's a degree of change unthinkable five years ago, but it's not dramatic and it's not going to change the Middle East overnight." Andre Azoulay, an adviser to the king of Morocco, is pondering it all. "There is a breath of fresh air in the region. But I can't tell you quite what it means," he told the Times.
The piece's closing notes go to Georgetown U prof Tom Melia, who thinks that, "You don't have to be an enthusiast for Bush to know that many of his critics were wrong. Making democracy a strategic goal for American interests in the world doesn't sound so wacky any more," and to war critic Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian, who wrote last week that the Iraq war "may have carried a silver lining."
The NYT also features a big-picture piece from one of its best Mideast reporters, Neil MacFarquhar: Unexpected Whiff of Freedom Proves Bracing for the Mideast.