Syria: Bush trying to scare Arab nations to sell weapons

Syria said Wednesday that the main aim of US President George W. Bush's Mideast tour was to scare Persian Gulf countries into buying weapons by portraying Iran as a threat. Many Sunni Muslim countries are wary of the rising influence of Shiite Iran, and Bush attempted to capitalize on this concern during his trip by pointing to Teheran's nuclear activities and support for Shiite militias in Iraq as a threat to other countries in the region. The US has offered to sell US$20 billion of advanced weaponry to Arab allies, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, to bolster their defenses against Iran, a close ally of Syria. Iran has dismissed Bush's allegations, and Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said Wednesday that Gulf nations would resist Bush's attempt to pit them against Teheran so the US could push through its arms sales.