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[casi] News, 19-26/4/02 (2)

News, 19-26/4/02 (2)


*  Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and the dynamism
of the Arab street
Daily Star (Lebanon), 20th April

India’s national tumult produced Gandhi and
Nehru. America’s nurtured Jefferson and
Madison. So why does the decades-long Arab crisis
spawn the likes of Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat?

The question was posed innocently, or, more
probably, naively, by liberal New York Times
columnist Nicholas Kristof on March 29. Perhaps
Kristof just doesn’t realize that the Arab
world produced dozens, if not hundreds, of great
men in the 18th and 19th centuries. Political
leaders like Mohammed Ali Pasha, Ahmed Arabi,
Saad Zaghloul, and Gamal Abdel-Nasser;
enlightened liberals like Jamaleddin al-Afghani,
Rifaa al-Tahtawi, Mohammed Abdo, Salama
Musa, and Taha Hussein; and world-class literary
figures like Khalil Gibran and Neguib

Kristof has undoubtedly not read the historical
research written by Arab scholars, notably by
Moroccan historian Abdullah Laroui, who concluded
that the Arabs ‘experienced a genuinely
liberal period extending from the 19th century up
to the end of World War II. During this
period, all phenomena were interpreted from a
liberal point of view. The Arabs did not delve
into some of the nuances of liberty, so thirsty
were they for freedom as a slogan rather than as
a philosophy. Their primary interest was
therefore to prove their freedom in any available
language, because proof is only necessary when
one has lost something.’

Western intellectuals conveniently overlook the
fact that all Arab modernist and liberal
democratic forces were destroyed one after
another first by Anglo-French colonialism in the
19th century, and later under the tracks of US-
made Israeli tanks in the 20th.

And naturally, whenever these modernist forces
were destroyed, pre-modernist ‘reactionary’
forces, now termed extremist fundamentalism,
dictatorships and tyranny eagerly came forward
to fill the void. That was the main reason why
the Arab world failed to produce any
world-class leaders, for how could democrats
appear while the Arab world itself was either
marginalized or blockaded?

Yet during the current crisis, the so-
called ‘Arab street’ demonstrated that it was not
only alive
but kicking as well, sending a powerful message
not only to Israel and the US, but also, more
importantly, to its own rulers.

Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that the
revolt of the Arab street will produce great
democratic leadership, at least not yet.


Because the new colonialists in Tel Aviv and
their imperial masters at the Pentagon have
imposed new priorities on the peoples of the
Middle East. These priorities have more to do
with liberating the Arab nation from humiliation
and subjugation than liberating the Arab
individual from dictatorship and tyranny.

Is it a coincidence that Arafat suddenly became a
heroic figure not only for the Palestinians but
for the entire Arab nation?

Is it a coincidence that Arabs now disregard
Saddam’s brutality and are reconsidering Osama
bin Laden’s views?

It doesn’t seem likely that Kristof and other
Western intellectuals are prepared to pose, much
less discuss, such questions.

The reason is their semi-racist conviction that
democracy and liberalism are moving in an
opposite direction to Arab culture and Islamic
ideology - a conviction that Israeli extremists
are doing their best to perpetuate.

In A Durable Peace: Israel and its Place Among
the Nations, Israel’s former prime minister,
Benjamin Netanyahu is keen to stress that, ‘the
Arab world’s obstinate resistance to
democracy in the age of democracy is a warning to
all Western democrats. The West must
realize that the only peace possible with the
Arab world is one built on deterrence.’

There is no need to explain what Netanyahu and
other Israeli extremists want to say: that the
Arab world is incompatible with democracy.
Therefore, democratic Israel must be given the
right to control by force, under the pretexts of
deterrence and self-defense, not only what
remains of Palestine, but also the entire Arab
world with its 300 million inhabitants.

There is no need to question whether Netanyahu’s
assertion that the Arabs are genetically
afflicted with an aversion to democracy was not
designed to aid the spread of this great human
value in the Middle East, but rather to
facilitate Israel’s continuing status as the only
colonial power in today’s world.

The public relations campaign Netanyahu is
currently waging in the United States is designed
to convey the same message to the Bush
administration and the American people: that
force is
the only credible language in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Ariel Sharon’s tanks are giving a
practical lesson in how to turn the power of
logic into the logic of power.

But all this is nothing more than a dangerous
intellectual and military game. It is akin to
throwing lighted matches at an exposed fuel dump.

What we are talking about here, after all, is the
Arab street.

The Arab street has shown - through its uprisings
all over the Arab world - that it is not just a
mythical being. It is very real, and, moreover,
it has realized its strength and capability. From
now on, the Arab street will tend to use its
newfound strength to convey its message to all
powers that be, both in the region and further

At the same time, many ‘moderate’ Arab
governments - in other words, pro-American
dictatorships - have demonstrated a total
inability to exercise power either negatively or
positively. They could neither suppress the
masses, nor could they convince them of what
they, the governments, were doing.

Many ‘moderate’ Arab regimes were left hanging in
the air for several days. Some almost had
breakdowns because of being subjected to two
contradictory forces: the demands of the
masses to open the borders with Israel for
fighters to cross, and American demands to embrace

It is more than likely that these regimes will
remain in limbo for some time to come. The Arab
street might not be that politically aware, but
at least it succeeded in imposing itself on a
political scene that was, until a short time ago,
monopolized by ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’

In other words, mass action has created a new
atmosphere, and it’s one that encourages a
culture of change in the Middle East. Just like
popular anger at the defeat of 1948 allowed
Arab armies to seize power in many countries
under the slogan of ‘revolutionary legitimacy,’
anger pervading the Arab street at the moment
will facilitate the birth of new political forces
that will raise the banners of ‘democratic

But the historical opportunities created by the
movement of the Arab street are open to two
contradictory possibilities.

The first is democratization. This could be the
outcome if the West latches onto the new pulse
of the Arab masses, and translates it into
support for political participation in all Arab
countries - hand-in-hand with a just solution to
the Palestine question, which inevitably means
the establishment of an independent Palestinian
state under UN - and definitely not Israeli -

The second possibility is more violence. But this
time, things will be different to what they
were in 1948. Instead of military coups, we will
have ‘suicidal coups.’ In other words, the
Arab street will be drawn to those political
forces, nationalist as well as religious, that
suicide bombings as a strategic option.

If for any reason the first option fails to come
to fruition, then within as little as a few months
the world will witness the advent of tens of
thousands of ‘human missiles’ in all Arab
countries - particularly the ‘moderate’ ones.

This is neither exaggeration nor scaremongering.
Democracies and dictatorships have one
thing in common: They both take note of the
public mood on the streets. Many Arab rulers
feel that their ‘streets’ are calling for violent

Renowned Egyptian writer Mohammed Hassanein
Heikal recently said that the rising of the
Arab street was the most significant event of the
last 30 years, because it demonstrated the
dynamism of the new generation.

Heikal might have misjudged the significance of
the revolt on Arab streets. Future
developments might yet show that it is the most
significant development in more than 100
years. But why 100?

Because 100 years ago, the Arabs were also
wondering what to do. The answer was liberal
democracy - the same liberal democracy that was
crushed not by undemocratic
fundamentalism but by Western ‘fundamentalist’
colonialists and Zionist ‘fundamentalist’

What happened a century ago might well happen
again, but with other means. For these are the
days of the suicide bomber.

Then, and only then, might Kristof think of
changing his original query to read: Who was
responsible for pushing the Arab peoples into the
arms of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat?

Saad Mehio is a Lebanese journalist and writer.
He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star

*  Egyptian trade fair opens in Baghdad
Daily Star (Bangladesh?), 20th April

AFP, Baghdad: Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin
Ramadan opened an Egyptian trade fair with
100 exhibitors Thursday. "Iraq welcomes
favourably the organisation of Arab fairs in
Baghdad," Ramadan said, particularly those
promoting Arab industries.

The head of Egypt's industries union, Abdul Monem
Al-Saudi, arrived in Baghdad Wednesday
to look at ways to "widen bilateral cooparation"
between Iraq and Egypt.

*  Iraq, Somalia, Sudan owe $595m to AMF
by Nadim Kawach
Gulf News, 21st April

Abu Dhabi: The Arab League's main financial
organisation has come under further pressure by
a deteriorating arrears problem. Experts see no
solution in the near future given the difficult
financial conditions of three debtors.

Sanction-hit Iraq and war-ravaged Somalia and
Sudan owe the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF)
around $595 million in outstanding debt, which
accounts for nearly half the institution's paid
up capital, according to an AMF report.

The debt includes around $243 million as a
combined principal loan and the rest is in the
of accumulating outstanding interest on more than
30 loans.

Iraq is the main debtor to the fund, with around
$365 million. Somalia's debt was put at nearly
$156.6 million and that of Sudan at $73.4 million.

The fund said it is still engaged in negotiations
with the three debtors to secure the funds and
support its financial resources to maintain the
flow of aid to other member states.

But the problem has worsened over the past decade
as the three countries have not been able
to repay even a small part of the loans as they
all suffer from severe cash shortage.

Iraq's coffers have been controlled by the United
Nations under the oil-for-food programme
since 1991 while Somalia's financial system has
been undermined by civil strife and the
country itself has disintegrated and its people
are suffering from famine.

Besides having one of the lowest per capita
incomes in the world, Sudan has also been hit hard
by nearly two decades of civil war in the South.

"How can you talk about a financial settlement
with those countries in such conditions, which
appear to be even getting worse," said an Abu
Dhabi-based banker.

"There are two scenarios for a settlement of this
problem..either the AMF writes off those
debts partially or totally or wait for a long
time to get its funds back...But I don't think it
is in a
situation to forgive the debtors completely."

Economists said the arrears problem, which
emerged more than 10 years ago, is putting strong
pressure on AMF coffers and obstructing its role
in supporting economic and fiscal reform
programmes in member states.

As a result, the Abu Dhabi-based AMF has
restructured its lending policy to give priority
technical assistance and members which embark on
serious reforms to spur their economies
and reduce their reliance on loans and foreign

"Loans and grants provided by the AMF will be
linked to reforms carried out by members,"
AMF chairman Dr Jassim AL Manai said in recent
remarks. "The aim is to rationalise the
provision of loans and at the same time ensure
they are fully utilised."

AMF officials said reforms in the fund's 21
members, covering privatisations, improvement of
investment laws and encouragement of exports,
would stimulate ailing domestic economies
and allow those members to repay debt to the AMF.

The AMF has extended more than $2 billion in
loans and grants to Arab members since it was
created by the Arab League in 1975. By the end of
2001, its assets peaked at around $3.8
billion and paid up capital at $1.2 billion.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Algeria
are the main subscribers to the AMF, which
made a net profit of around $104 million last

*  Iraq gives cash for lost homes
Herald Sun (Australia), 22nd April

IRAQI President Saddam Hussein has ordered that
$US25,000 ($46,460) be paid to
Palestinians for each house destroyed by Israeli
forces in the West Bank refugee camp of

"After studying the criminal Zionist deeds in
Palestine, President Saddam ordered, during a
weekly Cabinet meeting, $US25,000 to be allocated
for each house demolished in Jenin
refugee camp," the official Iraqi News Agency

Iraq has been making payments of up to that
amount to families of Palestinian suicide
bombers since the Israeli-Palestinian clashes
began in September 2000.


*  New border openings between Saudi Arabia, Iraq
Arabic News, 23rd April

The Saudi daily al-Jazira said in its Monday's
issue, quoting well-informed sources that
preparations have started to open border outlets
between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to permit the
transit of Saudi commodities to the Iraqi
territories, according to the oil for food

Worthy mentioning that " Jdedeyat Ar'ar " is
considered one of the most important border
outlets between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which is
of great importance for businessmen in the
two states for shortening the distance, which
they used to pass to send their commodities
through it.


*  Bush wants death for 'spy who offered secrets
to Iraq'
by Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Independent, 21st April

The Bush administration is seeking the execution
of a former Air Force master sergeant
accused of selling secrets to Iraq and Libya. If
the death penalty is carried out ,it will be the
first time the US has executed anyone for spying
since the 1950s.

Prosecutors have argued that Brian Regan, 39,
should be executed for allegedly writing to
Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, offering to
sell them US intelligence reports about
their countries along with satellite photographs
for $13m.

"The defendant intended to give to Iraq, a
hostile country that has regularly attempted to
down US and allied aircraft flying in the no-fly
zone, detailed and comprehensive information
concerning US reconnaissance satellites," said US
Attorney Paul McNulty in a statement filed
before a federal court late on Friday. "The
disclosure of this information would make it more
difficult to protect the lives of our servicemen."

Mr Regan, a retired Air Force sergeant who worked
with US spy satellites, was arrested last
August as he attempted to board a plane to Zurich
at Washington's Dulles airport. Agents said
his bags contained five pages of secret documents
relating to an intelligence computer system,
plus encrypted notes and a handheld global
positioning system device.

A 19-page FBI affidavit filed at the time
described two trips Mr Regan made abroad,
to pass information he gathered at his last
military posting at the National Reconnaissance
Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia. After he
retired, Mr Regan returned to the NRO as an
employee of TRW, a government contractor.

The statement filed on Friday contains a letter
Mr Regan allegedly wrote to Libyan
intelligence agents. It reads: "This letter
contains sensitive information. This letter is
confidential and directed to your President,
Muammar Gaddafi, or Intelligence Chief, General
Al-Khuwaylidi Al Humaydi. Please pass this letter
via diplomatic pouch and do not discuss
the existence of this letter either in your
offices or homes or via any electronic means
telex, fax). If you do not follow these
instructions the existence of this letter and its
may be detected and collected by US intelligence

Mr Regan is charged with three counts of
attempted espionage and one of gathering defence
information. While it is not clear whether
prosecutors believe he actually sold information,
they have alleged that his behaviour "created a
grave risk to national security" and created a
"grave risk of death".

Mr Regan's lawyers say the seeking of the death
penalty is politically motivated. America has
not executed anyone for espionage since Ethel and
Julius Rosenberg went to the electric chair
in 1953 for selling atomic secrets to the USSR.

"It is outrageous that the United States would
try to execute a guy who never hurt the US when
death was not even an issue for the likes of
[convicted spies] Robert Hanssen, James
Nicholson and Earl Pitts," said Jonathan Shapiro,
one of Mr Regan's legal team.

*  Jacksonvillians aim to collect $18.8M judgment
against Iraq for prison terms
by Paul Ivice
The Business Journal (I think), 22nd April

In May, two Jacksonville residents and two other
plaintiffs won an $18.8 million judgment
against Iraq.

David Daliberti and William Barloon -- who served
four months in an Iraqi prison for
mistakenly crossing the border when they were
contract workers in Kuwait in 1995 -- have yet
to collect one dinar.

That may change, if Congress passes a bill
introduced Tuesday intended to force the U.S.
Treasury Department to use frozen Iraqi assets to
pay the judgment.

A version of the bill introduced in the previous
session never got out of Judiciary Committee.
But Daliberti's and Barloon's Texas attorney,
James Cooper-Hill, says this version stands a
better chance.

Treasury wants the money used by the U.S.
government rather than distributed among
individuals, Cooper-Hill said. The State
Department, meanwhile, wants to maintain frozen
assets as a bargaining tool with foreign powers.


Daliberti's portion of the judgment is $3.85
million. Barloon would collect $2.94 million.
Their wives were each awarded $1.5 million for
loss of consortium.

Daliberti, 48, says the U.S. government's
position adds insult to his injuries.

An aircraft mechanic, Daliberti tried twice to
return to work after captivity, but he cannot lift
anything heavy. Besides post-traumatic stress
syndrome, he said he has had two heart attacks
and undergone two back surgeries. But he has no
medical insurance and cannot afford another
back operation.

He also was diagnosed with hepatitis-C since
returning from Iraq. "We assume he contracted
that when they [the Iraqis] were giving him
shots, possibly Thorazine to calm him down," said
his wife, Kathy Daliberti.

Kathy Daliberti, who worked for a bank before her
husband was arrested, also now is unable
to work, she said.

They're scared. "We both avoid the malls," she
said. "We don't go to parties or concerts or air
shows. We avoid crowds and public places."

She has felt unsafe since her husband's Iraqi
attorney threatened her when she went to Baghdad
to try to secure his release.

The attorney wanted the families of Daliberti and
Barloon to pay $100,000 each, supposedly
to bribe the judge, she said.

Eventually, she said, the attorney came down to
$15,000 each. When she refused to pay a
dime, he told her, "You don't think we know where
you live? We know where you live," she

The Dalibertis were watching CNN Sept. 11 when
the planes hit the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon.

"It was like a kick in the stomach," David
Daliberti said.

"It brought back a lot of harsh memories," his
wife said.

They see a positive sign in having to wait to
collect the judgment money. "I don't mind the
delay as long as it's going to benefit some
others who have walked in our shoes," David
Daliberti said.

But he is growing more frustrated at the way the
government is responding.

"They passed a law [in 1996] saying the State and
Treasury departments should help anyone
seeking compensation from terrorist acts," he
said. "Why does our own government have the
power to ignore its own rules?"

Kathy Daliberti is keeping her hopes low. "I
won't get on that roller coaster," she said. "We
will prevail, with or without the money."

*  Spy Trial for Retired Officer Is Postponed
Los Angeles Times (from Associated Press), 26th

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge agreed Thursday to
delay until possibly January the
espionage trial of a retired Air Force master
sergeant accused of plotting to spy for Iraq,
and Libya.

The move by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee
in Alexandria, Va., gives defense lawyers
and prosecutors more time to prepare for the
unusual death-penalty case against Brian Patrick
Regan, 39.

The judge will set a new trial date May 3 but
advised lawyers to consider Jan. 13 or later.
Regan worked for the Air Force and briefly for
TRW Inc., a defense contractor, at the
National Reconnaissance Office. He is charged
with three counts of attempted espionage and
one count of gathering national security

Regan has pleaded not guilty. The case is unusual
because it is the first time in decades the
government has sought the death penalty in an
espionage case and because prosecutors do not
allege that Regan's actions resulted in anyone's

Even the judge noted in his 21-page decision
Thursday: "It is fair to say that the government's
intent to seek the death penalty in this case was
unexpected in light of other espionage cases
heard in this district."

Prosecutors said Regan intended to offer Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein secret details about
American satellites that could help Iraq hide its
antiaircraft missiles in exchange for $13
million in Swiss currency. He also is accused of
plotting to sell similar information to China
and Libya.

Earlier this week, the judge set an unexpectedly
early trial date of June 3. Regan's lawyers
formally complained the date was too soon for a
death-penalty case, and even prosecutors
noted that it would take at least 45 days to
obtain security clearances to allow defense
to examine classified documents. The two sides
had proposed a Nov. 12 trial.

The June trial date gave the sides just 43 days
before testimony was to begin.

"This court regrets that defense counsel have the
impression that the court is more concerned
with the speed of the so-called 'rocket docket'
than with fairness in this case," the judge wrote.
The federal court in the Washington suburb is
known among lawyers as the "rocket docket"
because of the speed with which its criminal
trials move.

In agreeing to set a new trial date, the judge
said Thursday that defense lawyers showed him
"good cause" why the trial should be delayed
because they supplied sworn statements by legal
experts "describing what work remains to be done
on the case."

The judge also said that he "has attended to the
defendant's rights since the beginning of this
case," countering what he said were claims by
defense lawyers that "the court has exhibited
indifference to the accused's 6th Amendment right
to effective assistance of counsel."

The judge wrote that, by appointing some of the
most prominent lawyers available to work on
Regan's behalf, he "provided the defendant with
the means necessary for a more-than-adequate
legal representation." The judge also noted that
defense lawyers have had more than eight
months since Regan's arrest to prepare his case.

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