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News, 19-26/4/02 (2) IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/20_04_02_d1.ht m * 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 Mahfouz. 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. Why? 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 remaining 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 afield. 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 Israel. 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’ dictators. 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 legitimacy.’ 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 - auspices. 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 adopt 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 confrontation. 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’ settlers. 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 http://www.dailystarnews.com/200204/20/n2042005.ht m#BODY16 * 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. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp? ArticleID=48444 * 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 form 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 to technical assistance and members which embark on serious reforms to spur their economies and reduce their reliance on loans and foreign aid. "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 year. http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page /0,5478,4177894%255E401,00.html * 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 Jenin. "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 reported. 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. [.....] http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020423/2 002042301.html * 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 program. 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. IRAQI/US RELATIONS http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story .jsp?story=287331 * 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 shoot 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, allegedly 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 (phone, telex, fax). If you do not follow these instructions the existence of this letter and its contents may be detected and collected by US intelligence agencies." 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. http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/s tories/2002/04/22/story2.html * 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 recalled 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." http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la- 000029737apr26.story?coll=la%2Dheadl ines%2Dnation * Spy Trial for Retired Officer Is Postponed Los Angeles Times (from Associated Press), 26th April 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, China 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 information. 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 death. 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 experts 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. ------------------------------------------------- This mail sent through UK Online webmail _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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