PR campaign a bust: U.S. image takes a beating in Arab world

Sunday, June 8, 2003

The U.S. image in the Middle East has taken a beating despite summits and a multi-million dollar public relations campaign.

The State Department has ordered a review of its information campaign in Arab and Islamic states after a new polls that show rising anti-American sentiment.

The Arabic and Islamic media have reported heavily on U.S. measures against illegal Muslim immigrants. Officials said these reports have undermined the State Department campaign. They also cited the resignation in March of Undersecretary of State Charlotte Beers, a former advertising executive who ran the public relations campaign.

The review will be led by former Assistant Secretary of State Edward Djerejian, a former ambassador to Syria, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials acknowledged that President George Bush's campaign for the establishment of an interim Palestinian state by the end of the year has not increased support for the United States in the Arab and Islamic world. Last week, Bush held two summits in the Middle East.

"The group will study the efficacy of the department's public diplomacy efforts aimed at this region and recommend new ideas and policy initiatives," the State Department said. "In addition, the advisory group will report their findings to Congress by early fall."

Last week, Arab newspapers reported tension between Bush and Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz. The newspapers said Abdullah had threatened to leave the summit in Egypt's Sharm e-Sheik because Bush wanted to release a joint communique that Arab nations would normalize relations with Israel.

Abdullah remained for rest of the meeting when Bush withdrew the proposed clause.

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