U.S. President George W. Bush departs for the Middle East today on a trip aimed at moving forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and curbing Iran’s influence in the region.
Bush is scheduled to make stops in Israel and Palestine, as well as Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
The trip has encountered its share of skepticism. Particularly on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, many analysts think Bush is unlikely to make any major breakthrough, despite a framework agreement on talks reached by the two sides in Annapolis, Maryland, in November 2007.
Tensions have strained in the run up to Bush’s trip, with violence spiking in Israel, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories.
Bloomberg News says Bush’s efforts in the Holy Land may well be overshadowed by questions about Iran and oil.
The Kuwait Times says Iran’s ambitions figure prominently in Bush’s regional agenda. Tensions have come into sharp focus over the past two days amid U.S. accusations that Iran’s navy threatened U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz.