US President George W Bush's inauguration speech has taken until Saturday to register on the comment pages of the Arab and Iranian press, but the verdict is almost unanimous.
For most papers, Mr Bush's promise to spread freedom and democracy lacks any sort of credibility, and much is made of his failure to mention events in Iraq or the Arab-Israeli conflict.
One commentator, however, believes the Bush administration now has a real chance to repair the image of the US and restore trust in its values.
During his inaugural speech, President Bush said the US would be in charge of spreading freedom in the world. The greatest danger is that this freedom will mean the spreading of Israelis in the Palestinian territories and Americans in Iraq!
It is remarkable that President Bush - who has the vision of a Palestinian state side by side with Israel - did not utter a word on whether he is resolved to realise this vision, nor did he mention anything about what he is going to do to end the tragic situation in Iraq.
Bush avoided mentioning Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict... Talk of democracy is merely an illusion, when Iraq has no sovereignty and the Arab-Israeli conflict has not yet been resolved... How can one talk of democracy when Washington protects many tyrannical regimes for the sake of its own interests?
Rafiq Khouri in Lebanon's Al-Nahar
The tacit US consent for tyrannical actions carried out by most Arab and Islamic regimes under the slogan of the war on terror has convinced us more and more that we are facing an ideological bombshell set off by the second term of the US administration which has mystified and concealed the most hideous policies and actions pursued by Washington and its allies, starting from Gaza and ending in Baquba.
Arib al-Rantawi in Jordan's Al-Dustur
In his inaugural speech, President Bush repeated the word freedom 40 times in 17 minutes... The spread of freedom all over the world is a strong statement which shakes peoples' feelings. 'To end tyranny in our world', as Bush said in his speech, is a highly rhetorical statement and titillating lyrics... Will Bush ever grant Palestinians their rights and return their land?
Americans themselves are against their president and do not trust his policy. However, the president who works 'towards spreading democracy and freedom in the world' does not seem to be bothered about his people's objections, nor is he concerned about it. One wonders how on earth he is going to enter into dialogue with his opponents in other countries across the world.
Abdallah Hamudah in Oman's Al-Watan
The slogan of 'fighting tyranny' is just a pompous expression which gives the US administration plenty of scope for political and diplomatic pressures and even recourse to military force. This is an extremely dangerous issue... The US should not wait four more years to answer the question: "Why do they hate us?".
Bush, who is bragging about freedom and human rights, is the one who supports and encourages [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon to destroy these values. The world does not need words which will never become facts... Facts, not words, are needed to restore people's credibility.
Bush's inaugural speech sounded new. However, it is the language of old times, and America is still the same America which turns a blind eye to the way the world looks at it.
Abd al-Wahhab Badarkhan in London-based Al-Hayat
The democracy which President Bush is heralding is a bloody democracy which cost the lives of 100,000 Iraqi martyrs... The Arab hates America for two main reasons: first, for its support of repressive, barbaric and backward regimes; and secondly, for its support of the Israeli aggression. As long as US policy remains the same, all US speeches about democracy and freedom will only be pretentious and meaningless.
London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi
People will interpret Bush's speech in many different ways. There will be those who say it is simply an attempt to improve the image of the US, or those who say it is a strong resolve to change for the better. There will be those who will also say it is merely an attempt to conceal other problems. Whatever it may be, the US administration has been given a unique chance, the best ever, to restore trust in true US values, as well as improving an image which has been distorted by its mistakes.
Zayn al-Abidin al-Rukabi in London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat
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