The idea of according Middle Eastern countries free trade agreements also fits into the Bush administration’s wider strategy in the region. In December, US Secretary of State Colin Powell launched the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative – a campaign to broaden Washington’s approach to the region by fostering social and political change. He laid out three pillars to the strategy – education, private sector economic reform, and political change – and promised significant funding for the programme. Bush has also come under pressure from allies in the war against Iraq – in particular UK Prime Minister Tony Blair – to adopt a less confrontational approach to the region’s problems. ‘We’re looking at how we can follow up the military victory in the Gulf with trade and economic initiatives,’ Zoellick said last month.