One of the predictably annoying things about Jordanian newspapers is that the King's picture is almost always on the front page. Which makes this cover photo from the relatively liberal newspaper al-Ghad particularly striking:
Source: al-Ghad. This is Jordan - where's the King?
Sure, the picture is from the press conference, and the King wasn't in it - but Jordanian papers usually find a way to get his picture out there. It isn't surprising that the King wouldn't want to advertise his place in this summit. President Bush's visit to Jordan was wildly unpopular, met with protests organized by the opposition parties and a cascade of editorial scorn. The lead editorials in the Jordanian dailies made the best of things, expressing hopes that the visit would open the door on a new page for the region. Amidst the predictable anger and complaining, some more interesting comments: Urib Rentawi wrote that Bush always comes to the region barking orders and issuing threats, but this time he came with nothing to say and nothing to offer. Yasir Abu Hilala sharply notes that contrary to the popular Jordanian demand that Bush go away, he would actually prefer that Bush stay a while: Americans don't understand us or want to understand us, he writes, so better that he stay and actually learn something. In al-Ghad, Basim al-Twisi pointed out that Jordanian public opinion is as hostile to Bush and to American foreign policy as ever, even as Jordan and America become ever closer strategic allies - at the least, he suggests, Jordan should be better compensated financially for its efforts. That reminds me of the old joke, the one which ends "now we're just haggling over the price"...
With that much hostility to the meeting, it very much behooved the King to come out with something to show for it. Too bad about that. How did King Abdullah feel about it? Just check out this picture from the front of today's al-Sharq al-Awsat:
That is one grumpy King.