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[casi] News, 05-12/02/03 (5)



News, 05-12/02/03 (5)

ARAB OPINION

*  Who will benefit from America's latest fabrications against Baghdad?
*  Frankly Speaking!
*  Saudi Arabia pushes initiative to avert US-led war on Iraq     
*  Rumblings in Riyadh
*  Riyadh: Linchpin to a new religious order
*  Isn't it time the Kuwait war ended?
*  Saudi Arabia may cut military ties with US
*  Hizbullah reveals 'Iraqi Taif' plan
*  Rivalry for Eyes of Arab World
*  Arabs shower France with praise for opposing US war efforts
*  Tape Ascribed to bin Laden Urges Muslims to Stand With Iraq


ARAB OPINION

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/06_02_03_f.htm

*  WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM AMERICA'S LATEST FABRICATIONS AGAINST BAGHDAD?
Daily Star, Lebanon, 6th February

Anticipating no surprises from US Secretary of State Colin Powell's
presentation to the UN Security Council, Arab commentators dismiss his
alleged "new evidence" of Iraq's wrongdoing as a final and probably futile
ploy to mislead a skeptical world into supporting the impending war. They
are equally unimpressed by efforts being made by Arab leaders to grapple
with the crisis.

Newspapers note that moves to convene an emergency Arab summit aimed at
trying to prevent a US invasion of Iraq have apparently been abandoned in
favor of rescheduling the annual get-together of Arab rulers that was due to
be held in Bahrain on March 24. The summit is to be relocated to Cairo and
probably brought forward, but the Bahrainis will still chair it. The
Saudi-run pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat points out that this remains uncertain:
The Arab League has only "requested" that a new early-March date be set.

The Arab governments' perceived idleness over Iraq earns them much criticism
in the op-ed pages.

In the Bahraini daily Akhbar al-Khaleej, Egyptian columnist Assayed Zahra
laments the unedifying spectacle of Arab governments dithering over whether,
when, and where to convene their summit, asking: "Is this the sight of a
nation facing up to an imminent catastrophe?

"The truth, which no one wants to state frankly, is that most Arab leaders
don't want the summit to convene at all," Zahra writes.

The principal reason for that is that US President George W. Bush doesn't
want an Arab summit to be held, "or to be more precise, America's view is
that the summit should either convene to support the war or else not convene
at all," he adds.

"The second reason is that a large number of Arab leaders (American
officials have counted 12) have sorted themselves out, in secret of course,
with America regarding policy toward the war and the occupation of Iraq. In
other words, they have notified Washington of their de facto support for war
regardless of what they may declare in public."

And the third reason is that even if some or most Arab leaders are genuinely
opposed to war, "they don't know what exactly they can do, or rather they
are totally convinced that they are incapable of doing anything" to help
prevent it.

"We Arabs resemble a crippled ship," Zahra says. "The leaders have opted to
jump off onto American lifeboats and leave the vessel and everyone on it in
mid-sea, to sink or float, it doesn't matter."

Jordanian commentator Tarek Massarwa is scathing about the "Arab solution"
that regional players are reportedly considering to the Iraq crisis -
namely, getting the Iraqi leadership to stand down after the Security
Council has adopted a war resolution.

He writes in the Amman daily Al-Rai that the US is seemingly encouraging
such a course, hence its hints that it would welcome the exile or banishment
of President Saddam Hussein.

It is unclear whether this means that if Saddam were to step down, the
Americans "would accept Taha Yassin Ramadan as his replacement," or if "what
is required is the departure of the entire regime, including the Baath
Party, the army command and the millions of armed militia who fill Iraq's
towns, villages and countryside," Massarwa writes.

But even assuming that the Iraqi leadership would agree to some deal along
these lines, "are those who advocate it and dub it an 'Arab solution'
guaranteeing a replacement?" he asks. Or will Saddam's successor be US
General Tommy Franks, who is tipped to become military governor of a
US-occupied Iraq? Will he take up Iraq's seat at future Arab summits, while
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon represents Palestine?

"Originally, the 'Arab solution' was for the international inspectors to
return to Iraq," Massarwa recalls. "They did. But did we hear the advocates
of this solution require Washington and London to accept the inspectors'
conclusions in exchange, or to cease their military buildup in the Gulf if
Iraq were shown not to possess weapons of mass destruction, or to lift the
embargo against it?

"So why should we believe that the departure of Saddam Hussein, or the party
or military leadership, will stop the progress of the Anglo-American drive
to occupy Iraq and guide the Iraqis toward democracy - so that Baghdad can
have its Republican and Democratic parties and its Congress of
representatives and senators, and its oil can be placed in safe American
hands, as Arab oil always is?"

Washington's rhetoric about freeing Iraq from dictatorship prompts Talal
Salman, publisher of the Beirut daily As-Safir, to remark that however much
of a despot Saddam may be, Bush has been every bit as tyrannical in his bid
to "impose on the entire world his decision to plunge it into a war on
Iraq."

Having failed to make a convincing case for military action, despite
resorting to outright fabrications, the Bush administration "has resorted to
tried and tested 'democratic' methods known throughout history: bribes for
those humiliated by want, and the stick for the defiant," Salman writes.

Thus, it has "muzzled China," which needs access to US markets and
technology, "blackmailed Russia" by exploiting its desperation for IMF and
World Bank loans, and "split Europe" by luring a number of East European
countries still recovering from their miserable experience as part of the
Soviet bloc he says.

"As for Silvio Berlusconi's Italy, its corrupt and corrupting ruler didn't
need persuading to participate in the 'dirty work,' as that was his original
profession," Salman says. "And when the German chancellor signaled his
opposition, he was 'embargoed' and war was declared on him by invoking
German Nazism's black record against the Jews."

To browbeat Turkey into going along with its war plans, Washington
threatened to rekindle Kurdish separatism, cut off financial aid, and
"deprive it of its slice of the liberated Iraqi cake."

But Salman remarks that the US has reserved its most "democratic" manners
for its "Arab friends."  It has made "direct threats" to the Saudi royal
family to split it from within, turn the tribes against it, or even divide
the kingdom into three.

"Egypt has no role at all. Jordan is a rear operations room, plus a
launching pad for some joint special operations with the Israeli occupation
army designed to reassure Sharon. As for the Gulf Arab countries, they are
missile platforms and rear bases for the forces spearheading the offensive.
Their opinions are neither ventured nor asked," Salman writes. "Isn't George
W. Bush the highest prototype of democracy on the global level?"

Arab pundits commenting on Powell's much-awaited appearance before the
Security Council, meanwhile, discount in advance the new "evidence" in
support of Washington's case for war.

Syria's ruling Baath Party daily Al-Baath uses its editorial to ask a key
question reiterated in many other newspapers across the region: "If the US
has evidence that Iraq is concealing weapons of mass destruction, why hasn't
it made it available to the UN arms inspectors, instead of holding on to it
while threatening that time is running out and continuing its military
buildup?"

The paper stresses that there is no justification or meaningful
international backing for war, and if Washington opts to attack Iraq it will
effectively be doing so on its own, and will be solely to blame for the
death and destruction it causes.

"The region, as everyone keep reiterating, does not need a new war to
destroy what remains in it. It needs peace, security and prosperity. It has
experienced more war, injustice and outrage than it can bear Š not least the
aggressive wars waged by Israel against the Palestinian people and the Arabs
in general with the illegal support of America," Al-Baath says.

In Lebanon's An-Nahar, Rajeh al-Khoury reports that extensive details of
Powell's presentation to the UN were leaked beforehand. But no one ever
explained why the US "sat on" this supposedly incriminating evidence for so
long. "And if US intelligence agencies are openly rowing with the Pentagon
over this evidence, deeming it spurious and unconvincing, if not scandalous,
how can Powell expect to persuade the Security Council and the world of it?"

Some council members will, of course, applaud his presentation. "The British
will be there, as will the Spanish and the Bulgarians, who are still
entranced by Americanization and its rosy dreams in Eastern Europe," Khoury
says. But for the other delegates, it will not be a matter of Iraq having
been caught with a smoking gun, but Powell having been caught lying.

Pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi publisher/editor Abdelbari Atwan - who conducted
an interview with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan prior to Sept. 11 - balks
at Washington's efforts to persuade the world that the secular regime in
Baghdad is somehow in cahoots with Al-Qaeda.

Apart from the fact that they are worlds apart ideologically, he writes that
it was bin Laden's hostility to the Iraqi regime that turned him against the
Saudi authorities and their American protectors in the first place. After
the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Atwan says, bin Laden proposed to the
Saudi government that he form an "international Islamist front" composed of
"Arab-Afghan" fighters to eject Iraqi forces from the emirate in the same
way that Soviet troops had been forced out of Afghanistan.

"But the senior Saudi prince he approached with the offer told him to keep
within his bounds, concentrate exclusively on his business interests and
leave politics to the politicians. That meeting was the turning point of his
career, prompting him to join the ranks of the opposition, form the Advice
and Reform Movement, and move to Sudan and then to the wild mountains of
Tora Bora in Afghanistan."

But Atwan says that links between Iraq and Al-Qaeda "will definitely be
established, but only after Iraq has been bombed."

An American invasion and occupation will enable the group to create a
presence for itself in the country and mount attacks on US forces there. The
toppling of the regime could do much to "bestow legitimacy" on Al-Qaeda by
rallying thousands of Iraqis opposed to the occupation to its ranks.

Atwan writes that the latest US claims that Iraq is sponsoring Al-Qaeda or
concealing weapons "will convince no one."

The US administration is hell-bent on war, and the date for launching it was
decided at Bush's latest meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, he
says. The Bush administration has served notice that it will invade Iraq
with or without Security Council endorsement, and that "whoever joins us
will have a share of the Iraqi oil cake, and whoever opposes us will face
our big stick and find no place in our new world order."

This being the case, it is "not difficult for the Bush administration to
fabricate new evidence against Iraq, in order to provide a fig leaf to those
- especially in the Arab world - who are looking for one with which to
conceal the shame of their participation, whether actual or nominal, in the
war on Iraq."

The US has a record of making such fabrications, especially during the 1991
Gulf War, Atwan writes.

In 1990, it provided the Saudis with doctored satellite images, purporting
to show that Iraqi forces were massing on the border poised to invade the
kingdom, in order to persuade them to agree to the deployment of US troops
there. King Fahd didn't believe the Americans but opted to agree to their
demand anyway, despite the advice of Crown Prince Abdullah, who urged him to
withhold his approval, he says.

There was also the case of the young woman who was instrumental in
persuading the US Congress to vote in favor of the 1991 war with her moving
testimony about how she had, as a nurse in a Kuwaiti hospital, witnessed
Iraqi soldiers throwing infants out of incubators. It was only afterward
that it was revealed that she was in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti
ambassador, had not been in the emirate at all, and had been coached by a
public relations firm to lie to US lawmakers in order to win them over to
the war camp.


http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Articles.asp?Article=43311&Sn=COMM

*  FRANKLY SPEAKING!
by George Williams
Gulf Daily News (The Voice of Bahrain), 6th February

A meeting at the GDN's offices this week with Dr Rachel Bronson, director of
Middle East Studies for the US Council on Foreign Relations, left me
concerned!

For she flew into Bahrain from Abu Dhabi at the American Embassy's behest to
tout her think-tank's latest magnum opus report: 'Guiding Principles for US
Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq'.

Only the Americans with their rhetorical excess and gift for presenting all
military campaigns almost as morality plays could show such insensitivity.

And what abysmal timing when Bahrain's leaders, diplomats, politicians and
clerics are desperately seeking eleventh-hour solutions to avert catastrophe
- not encourage it.

Worse still, this tome of a report - almost two-thirds of which focuses on
ways of carving up oil revenues - has been in preparation since August.
Clear indication of real intent a full six months ago of war as a foregone
conclusion.

Yes, Dr Bronson's arguments appeared on the surface intellectually
watertight - but that isn't enough. Before embarking on something as drastic
as war, people want to know the real human cost - in this region's case
particularly, the threat of an eruption of Islamic fundamentalism once the
Americans pull out.

The report really makes a mockery of efforts by weapons inspectors and the
world's urgings to 'give peace a chance'.

At our meeting, it was almost as if Dr Bronson was purposefully magnifying
the villainy of those Washington seeks to punish before claiming oil, not
Saddam's head, as the ultimate prize.

Sadly, however, this report serves only to underline the aggressiveness and
selfishness of American imperial foreign policy and leaves key questions
unanswered.

For instance, why is Saddam suddenly such an enormous threat after 12 years
of successful containment? Why attack Baghdad now and not Israel or North
Korea who we know both possess weapons of mass destruction?

And what about post-Saddam? He has already murdered many of the largest
Kurdish and Shia ethnic religious groups' leaders and members.

What new federal constitution would need to be established, and who will
draft the boundaries - not the gung-ho US Marines I hope? Dr Bronson seemed
to have difficulty grappling with that one despite her verbal and mental
dexterity - just as Colin Powell battled at the United Nations yesterday to
present a totally convincing case for military force.

Their protestations can only further isolate Washington and even set the
stage for a damaging showdown between it and the rest of the world over the
UN's relevance.

However convincing and clever Dr Bronson's rhetoric though, this will not be
a war in any real sense. For war, one of the ghastliest words in our
language, is still too noble a concept for such machinations and
manoeuvrings that will almost certainly lay waste Iraq this month or next,
and could pave the way for a fundamentalist and terrorist backlash.


http://www.jordantimes.com/fri/news/news5.htm

*  SAUDI ARABIA PUSHES INITIATIVE TO AVERT US-LED WAR ON IRAQ
Jordan Times, 7th February
      
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) ‹ Saudi Arabia, Washington's main US ally in the
region, has stepped up efforts for a last chance mediation to avoid a new
US-led war on Iraq, even if the use of force is sanctioned by the United
Nations.

The new diplomatic offensive has culminated with the kingdom proposing a new
initiative to grant "amnesty" to members of President Saddam Hussein's
regime.

Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh quoted Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal as
saying Thursday that the initiative had been "positively" received by
permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The initiative emanates from Riyadh's concern that unilateral US military
action against Iraq will instigate a civil war, break up the country,
promote terrorism and consequently destabilise the oil-rich region.

Prince Saud said the initiative was aimed at "preserving the present
administration in Iraq" in order to "safeguard internal security, the
state's sovereignty and prevent the break up of Iraq."

Riyadh wants the UN Security Council to issue an amnesty for "all members of
the Iraqi government provided they cooperate positively with the
SecurityCouncil plans," Prince Saud told Al Riyadh.

"In this case, the mission of the international forces will be to try to
implement the UN resolution and confront any side that hinders the
implementation of Resolution 1441," the prince said without clarifying the
composition of such forces or if they would be deployed inside Iraq.

Prince Saud said the initiative will be discussed formally by the five
permanent members of the Security Council when they meet around
mid-February.

The minister told Time Magazine this week the amnesty offer would apply to
Iraqi officials and military officers who demonstrate their readiness to
cooperate with UN weapons inspectors by disclosing secret arms caches and
otherwise ensuring Iraq's compliance with UN disarmament resolutions.

"Instead of constantly harping, `If you don't do what we want, we will
pursue you,' say the reverse: `If you do what we want, you will not be
pursued, you will secure yourself and your future,'" Prince Saud advised the
United States.

"I fail to see how Iraqis wouldn't accept this approach in the face of
certain destruction."

The Saudis believe such an approach will help isolate President Saddam,
encourage his overthrow and thus prevent the war.

Prince Saud told a press conference Wednesday that Arab countries must be
given a last chance to intervene on behalf of Baghdad to prevent a war in
the event of a new UN resolution authorising the use of force against Iraq.

The kingdom has said that if a new Security Council resolution were adopted
authorising war against Iraq, it would base its own decision to support
Washington on the extent of Baghdad's material breach of disarmament
Resolution 1441 and national interests.

Prince Saud warned of the "dangers of breaking up Iraq, should there be war.

"War and disorder could give place to three or four mini-states that will
fight amongst themselves for power in Iraq and its riches and these regions
wouldbecome refugees for international terrorism," he said.

The prince said his recent tour of Britain, France and the United States was
aimed at "examining the ways of preventing war and avoiding disastrous
fallout for the region."

Al Riyadh, which often reflects the kingdom's official thinking, strongly
criticised Washington's "colonial plans to control oil resources."

"The age of international law is over and we are back to one and a half
centuries ago" when colonialism started, the paper said in a front-page
editorial.


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EB08Ak03.html

*  RUMBLINGS IN RIYADH
by Ian Urbina
Asia Times, 8th February

In March, the 22 Arab League states will head to Cairo for the Arab summit.
There will surely be much heated discussion over how to respond to the
impending - or by that time possibly already begun - war with Iraq. But
another item on the agenda will be the recently released, and rather
surprising "Charter for Reform of the Arab Condition" drafted by the Crown
Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

Though thoroughly vague, the charter calls for Arab leaders to "end the
regional silence that has gone on for too long" about the "explosive
situation in this area" evidently a reference to the social, economic and
political stagnation which has fueled discontent and contributed to the rise
of Islamic fundamentalism. But most shocking is the call for "internal
reform and enhanced political participation" which it describes as
"essential steps for building Arab capabilities".

Had such a document been released by any other regional power it would
hardly have made press. But for the royalty of a country which is so
thoroughly conservative, religious, hierarchical and static, any mention of
"internal reform and enhanced political participation" is noteworthy. Many
are wondering whether these could be the early signs of glasnost in Riyadh?

The charter was by no means the first unusual move. A little over a week
ago, the Saudi government shocked many by opening its doors, or some of them
at least, to an American human rights organization, the first time ever in
the Islamic kingdom. A five-person delegation from the New York-based Human
Rights Watch was invited on a six-day visit to the country. On the trip,
they toured the capital city's major men's prison, met with top officials
such as Interior Minister Prince Nayef and Foreign Minister Prince Saud
al-Faisal, and even had a consultation with the much-feared mutawa religious
police.

And lately there have been other oddities of note.

In mid January, many Saudi-watchers were left stunned when the Shura Council
in Riyadh - an advisory body that gives advice to the government - rejected
a draft of legislation which would have imposed an income tax on foreigners
working in the kingdom. The specifics of the legislation are not half as
important as the fact that the council acted outside its typically
rubber-stamping capacity. The legislation is currently being revised by a
somewhat befuddled Ministry of Finance.

Several weeks ago Crown Prince Abdullah took a highly public tour through
one of the poorest districts of the capital. The visit was hailed as an
unprecedented admission that the country suffers from poverty. Some
interpreted the visit as a small step toward the state actually confronting
a situation it has long chosen to ignore.

The reason for the seemingly reformist moves is not easy to explain, and in
the end amounts to pure speculation since so much about Saudi politics is
opaque. But one clear factor is a Saudi desire to stay out in front of its
neighbors when it comes to determining the political direction of the
region. From Riyadh, it may seem like parliament fever is in the air.
Kuwaitıs was long alone, but now Bahrain has ushered in a parliament and
Qatar is writing a constitution that will lead to a parliament. Gone are the
days when Saudis used to criticize the Kuwaiti royal family for being the
only Gulf nation with such an odd institution.

Nor is the Saudi reformist platform the only recent attempt to ensure that
Riyadh keeps its status as the predominant diplomatic heavyweight in the
Gulf. Last yearıs major Saudi initiative to negotiate a solution between
Israel and the Palestinians, and more recently the Saudi shuttle-butting
over an exile plan for Saddam all can be read in this same light.

Internally, economics and demographics have conspired to put added pressure
on Riyadh in the direction of reform. The Islamic kingdom is facing a
barrage of unprecedented problems, as its population has doubled in 20 years
to 23 million, even though income from oil has remained flat, with no
prospects for sustained growth. In terms of material infrastructure, per
capita investment has been halved in the past decade, leading to a bottoming
out of basic social services. Unemployment among the young has risen
sharply. The royal family may recognize that as these popular frustrations
grow, they will need to be channeled through more accommodating political
mechanisms.

Education has also been a lightning rod of controversy lately. Many Saudis
worry that the nationıs religious-based schooling inadequately prepares the
young for careers in a globalized and technologically advanced world.
America has also attacked the Saudi school system, accusing it of
indoctrinating pupils with Islamic fundamentalism. The fire in a girlıs
school last year which led to numerous deaths was a partial impetus for the
critical look at the conservative nature of the education system. According
to Saudi press accounts religious police would not allow the girls out of
their burning building because the girls were in their night clothes.

Of course, there are also the factors of the World Trade Center attacks and
more recently the US plans to invade Iraq. The fact that the bulk of the
September 11 highjackers were Saudis deeply shocked and dismayed the royal
family. Subsequently, the spate of press skewering left many in the Saudi
government reeling. Reformism may be a consequence of this negative
attention. A major war on its borders could also open up unpredictable
forces for the Saudis. A destabilized Iraq, a splintered and civil war Iraq,
a US-occupied post Saddam Iraq, a democratizing Iraq, all represent
worrisome possibilities for the Saudi leadership. Appropriating the rhetoric
now, if not also actually carrying through on it with real actions, may be a
preemptive tactic by the Saudi royalty so that this rhetoric is not
eventually turned against Riyadh at a vulnerable moment down the road.

But the push for reform is far from monolithic. There are those rather brave
voices within the country who have been pushing, largely from the bottom up,
for political change. Many of them find Prince Abdullahıs recent charter far
from convincing as it puts too much emphasis on suggesting reforms for other
area governments rather than making any real commitments at home. In late
January, a group of these reformists - most of them professors and prominent
intellectuals - drafted a petition calling for gradual democracy and
eventual elections in the absolute monarchy. The reformers' document also
asks for the reform of the judiciary, more freedom for the press and more
rights for women.

Ultimately, though, onlookers are left reading tea leaves to figure out
what, if anything, recent Saudi moves mean in terms of real change. There is
the distinct possibility that the recent talk is little more than hollow
rhetoric. In crunch times before, the Saudi rulers have been shrewd in their
ability to deflect certain pressures. For example, leading up to the 1991
Gulf War some Saudi leaders, including the King, spoke freely of installing
a military draft. Their tough talk came at a moment when the royal family
was under significant pressure for being overly dependent on the US
military. But when the war ended, all such promises were immediately
dropped, and hardly a word of it has been mentioned since.

Will Prince Abdullahıs charter amount to anything? Only time will tell. But
in the meanwhile one wry critic recently quoted in the Economist probably
got it right, "So long as the government gets its money from god, it remains
impossible to demand accountability."

Ian Urbina is an editor at the Middle East Report and is based at the Middle
East Research and Information Project (MERIP), a foreign policy think tank.


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EA04Ak02.html

*  RIYADH: LINCHPIN TO A NEW RELIGIOUS ORDER
by Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times, 8th February

KARACHI - With a constant increase in the deployment of US forces in the
Persian Gulf , the war against Iraq looks set for February. However, the
paradigms of the military build-up so far suggest that the goal of the West
in the Gulf region is by no means limited to the borders of Iraq. Indeed,
the concentration of forces is also well suited to undermining the resurgent
fundamentalist branches of Islam and their bases in the Muslim world.

The fact is, whether or not the US overthrows Saddam Hussein, its armed
forces will remain face to face with the country at the ideological center
of fundamentalist Islam. That country is not Iraq; it is Saudi Arabia. And
it is this divide - between Western-style democracy and Saudi-style Wahhabi
Islam - that remains at the heart of the coming conflict. The majority of
Saudi citizens are Sunni Muslims predominantly adhering to the strict
interpretation of Islam taught by the Salafi or Wahhabi school that is the
official state religion.

At present, US troops and bases are spread across the Middle East from Oman
to Saudi Arabia. At the same time, the continuous deployment of US forces in
the Persian Gulf has virtually established de facto US hegemony over the
region. With this force, the US has not only ensured a successful strike in
case of a war in Iraq, but it has also severely damaged the prospects and
attractions of those Islamist ideologies that have emerged as its natural
rival.

"There is a deep realization among the US policy makers that in fact there
are two concepts of Islam that prevail in the Muslim world. One emerged from
Najad [Saudi Arabia], and the other very recently when the Turks ruled an
Ottoman empire stretching from Turkey to Morocco," a US diplomat said
recently. "The Islam that emerged from the deserts of Najad, called the
Salafi branch of Islam, purely finds its sources in the holy book [Koran]
and the teachings of Prophet [Sunnah]. The concept of Islam that evolved
during the days of Turkish rule are also based on Koran and Sunnah, but
instead of taking direct instructions from the book and the teachings, this
concept relies on the interpretations of different scholars and Islamic
jurists. The Islamic concepts which emerged from the deserts of Najad have
always been extremist, whereas the concepts that evolved during Turkish
empire are very moderate."

There is no geographical divide between the two concepts, both exist in all
Muslim societies. Islamist organizations such as al-Qaeda, the Muslim
Brotherhood in the Arab world, the Jamaat-i-Islami in Pakistan, Bangladesh
and India, the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan, the Jamaat-i-Islami Afghanistan,
the Islamic political parties of Indonesia, Malaysia and Algeria, the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines, Hamas in Palestine, Chechen
fighters etc - all belong to the Salafi branch and all are, or have been,
the recipients of Saudi aid in one form or another. It is a fact that the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the vanguard of this Salafi branch of
Islam.

"Interestingly, in societies where these groups exist, there are other
Islamic groups which do not follow Salafism, but instead believe in Sufism,
an interpretation of Islamic scholarship in light of the Koran and Sunnah
which teaches not quarrel but love. This concept evolved during Turkish
rule," the diplomat says.

The US and Saudi Arabia have a 50-year history of friendship. The US turned
a blind eye on anti-Western aspects of Saudi ideologies as long as the
Saudis allowed the US to operate in their countries and gave the Americans a
free hand in oil exploration and other fields. Egypt, for its part,
oppressed the Muslim Brotherhood and hanged many of its leaders. This
situation forced the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to take refuge in
Saudi Arabia.

These leaders apparently laid the foundation of many peaceful social groups,
like the Islamic Circle of North America and the Islamic Society of North
America. These organizations are welfare organizations, but they are the
source to spread a "resurgent" Salafi branch of Islam.

"Not only are these political Islamic groups sympathetic to organizations
like al-Qaeda, but for many al-Qaeda leaders these organizations were the
nurseries where they learnt the concepts of resurgent Islam which deviated
into militancy against the US," the diplomat said.

Sources said that after September 11, the US started giving heavy-handed
suggestions to Saudi Arabia for the reform of its religious schools -
suggestions aimed at changing the syllabi of universities, such as the
Islamic University in Medina and the Umul Qura in Mecca. The Saudi rulers
agreed to make these changes but, considering the influence of religious
forces in the shaping of Islamic study, the rulers have found that even the
suggestion of such fundamental reforms are creating frictions not only
between religious forces and the royal family, but also within the House of
Saud itself.

A majority of the House of Saud is still an ardent believer of the Salafi
branch of Islam and its strict practice as this ideology is the foundation
of Saudi rule and, indeed, the country of Saudi Arabia itself.

In the presence of these realities, laying the foundation stone of Western
democracy and civil society in a country like Saudi Arabia under the shadow
of US guns would jolt the foundation of the House of Saud, its patron
religious forces and their ideologies.


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/08_02_03_c.htm

*  ISN'T IT TIME THE KUWAIT WAR ENDED?
by Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi
Daily Star, Lebanon, 8th February

It seems that we forget all too quickly. That is perhaps why many of us have
been speaking (on Arab TV) about how difficult the impending war will be,
and about the dogged resistance Iraq will put up to an American invasion. It
is most painful when such nonsense comes from retired Egyptian Army
generals, who, it seems, are still suffering from the Nasserite virus. These
individuals do more harm than good to the "Arab street." Their rants raise
expectations which will surely come crashing down when images are eventually
beamed of Iraqi soldiers welcoming the US Army to Baghdad and Tikrit.

The same thing happened on the eve of the "Mother of all Battles" barely 12
years ago - a battle whose lessons we are unfortunately all too prepared to
ignore. The Iraqi Army and people are simply not prepared to lay down their
lives for a dictator who has been treating them abysmally for so long. In
fact, the Iraqis are keen to be freed from their oppressor, and don't much
care who helps them do it.

Almost exactly 12 years ago, I traveled to Kuwait with a group of Saudi and
Western reporters. We were in the heart of Kuwait City a full day before the
liberating Americans got there. I had mixed feelings: I was happy to see
freedom restored to Kuwait after months of oppression by a regime they did
not want; but it was also painful to see an Arab army comprehensively
defeated because it was forced to fight the wrong war in the wrong place.

The Iraqi Army entered Kuwait as an invading force; it left as a bunch of
defeated looters, leaving behind a great deal of hatred and much
humiliation.

Crossing into Kuwait only hours after the land battle commenced following
several weeks of intense aerial bombardment, we didn't not see a real war
raging around us. It was said at the time that the Iraqis were abandoning
their positions and taking flight. I learned next day from some captured
Iraqi soldiers that orders had suddenly been issued for them to withdraw.
They said the orders were vague, causing them to abandon their positions
chaotically and fall prey to murderous aerial attack.

What remained of that mighty invading army was a gruesome sight - charred
corpses were strewn everywhere in the northern Kuwaiti desert, along with
stolen luxury cars, TVs, stereos and other pathetic booty the soldiers did
not live to enjoy.

The Americans must not repeat such a humanitarian catastrophe. Saddam
Hussein does not give a hoot what happens to his soldiers, yet the Americans
- those self-proclaimed "leaders of the free world" - are inherently decent
folk. They should not allow people like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to
do as they please. Rumsfeld's reputation has already been sullied by his
troops' immoral behavior in Afghanistan. The massacre at Janghi, bombing of
wedding parties, and targeting of every tall Afghan because he looks like
Osama bin Laden are testimony to that. It would be helpful if America's
allies persuaded it to abide by ethical rules of conduct in the coming war.

Hungry for a scoop, we drove toward Kuwait City. The fires blazing at the
Ahmadi oilfields were barely visible and silence enveloped the desert
ominously. What kind of war is this? Where was the "mountain that would not
bend to the wind?" Where were the fires that would burn under the feet of
the "forces of world arrogance?" Rhetoric, pure rhetoric designed to mislead
an Arab nation that still idolized lies and false promises.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a civilian car nearby turned on its
headlights. It belonged to members of the Kuwaiti resistance, who wore red
armbands to distinguish themselves. They had followed us for a distance
until they made sure that we had Saudi license plates before greeting us
with open arms. They asked us: "But where are the troops?" We realized that
the American and Saudi troops that were supposed to advance to Kuwait City
were behind us.

The resistance fighters accompanied us to the only place in the capital that
still had electricity: the Mubarak al-Sabah Hospital. The Kuwaitis were
puzzled as to why their liberators had not arrived yet. "The Iraqis fled
yesterday afternoon," they said. Kuwait had lived through two nights with no
authority before the eventual arrival of US-led coalition and Kuwaiti
forces. The Kuwaitis we met in the hospital were happy to have shaken off
the yoke of occupation; yet more ominous events still lay ahead.

Suddenly, an angry young man brandishing a machine gun burst into the
hospital and started threatening the Palestinians who had remained working
there despite the occupation. He accused them of betraying his brother, an
army officer, to the Iraqis. The brother was arrested and never seen again.
The young man wanted revenge, and any Palestinian would do. Luckily, a
number of our resistance friends managed to disarm him. I had just witnessed
one of the horrible consequences of the Iraqi invasion: the seeds of hatred
Saddam had succeeded in sowing between the Arab peoples.

We spent the night listening to tales of how the Kuwaitis suffered for seven
months at the hands of the Iraqi occupiers. I wondered whether this hatred
would ever blow over. Would Saddam's regime collapse? Would this crisis
result in the birth of a new Arab order?

The next day was historic - the liberating army managed to enter Kuwait City
on the emirate's National Day. The first troops to enter the city were
Saudi. I felt proud, standing among hordes of Kuwaitis on an overpass
watching the troops rolling in, and treated like a hero. We hoped we would
soon see similar images in Baghdad. But despite being - as a Saudi - on the
winning side, I see those days as a defeat. In fact, they signified more
than one defeat. I once conveyed these feelings to a Saudi official, who
answered by asking me: "Do you believe that we were happy to see an army we
had shared in building humiliated in that way?"

The mighty Iraqi Army that the Palestinians had hoped would someday come to
liberate them had collapsed. It was crushed ignominiously and uselessly in
an unforgiving desert. The Iraqi Army only fought against its brothers, and
only succeeded in subjugating its own people. It was then that we started
seeing Iraqi leaders kicking, cursing and executing their countrymen on TV.

Isn't it time the Kuwait war ended?

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi is a Saudi political analyst and the deputy editor in
chief of Saudi Arabia's English-language Arab News. He wrote this commentary
for The Daily Star


http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slug=Saudi+Arabia+may+cut+mil
itary+ties+with+US&id=34961

*  SAUDI ARABIA MAY CUT MILITARY TIES WITH US
NDTV (apparently an Indian station - PB], 9th February

Saudi Arabia has decided to prepare for military disengagement from the US
after a possible war in Iraq in order to enact its "first significant
democratic reforms" and rein in the conservative clergy that shares power in
the kingdom.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah will ask US President George W Bush to withdraw
all American armed forces from the kingdom as soon as the campaign to disarm
Iraq has concluded.

The Saudi decisions, reached last month, are a result of a continuing debate
over the kingdom's future and have not yet been publicly announced.

The departure of American soldiers would set the stage for an announcement
that Saudis -- but probably not women, at least initially -- would begin
electing representatives to provincial assemblies and then to National
Assembly.

The goal would be the gradual expansion, over six years, of democratic writ
until a fully democratic National Assembly emerged.

The debate over the need for reform is described by Saudi royal family
members as part of the post-September 11 reckoning to head off foreign and
domestic pressures that threaten the royals and its dominion over the
oil-rich Arabian peninsula.

As the US prepares for what could be a long military occupation of Iraq, the
Saudi royal family does not want to appear as if it was pressured into
reform.

To be seen as acting under American sway might undermine the monarchy's
credibility before a population that is increasingly young, unemployed,
pious and anti-American. (PTI)


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/10_02_03/art4.asp

*  HIZBULLAH REVEALS 'IRAQI TAIF' PLAN
Daily Star, Lebanon, 10th February

Hizbullah outlined Sunday its proposal for what it called an Iraqi national
reconciliation, urging the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic
Conference or their members to sponsor what is being called an "Iraqi Taif."

Hizbullah warned that the goals of an American military assault on Iraq had
become "clear to all," and would result in "disastrous" consequences for
Iraq and the region.

As one way to remove the pretexts for such an aggression, Hizbullah said,
its secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, had broached Friday the idea
of a reconciliation conference, or Iraqi Taif, along the lines of the 1989
meeting in Saudi Arabia that helped end the Lebanese civil war.

Hizbullah said that participants in such a conference would comprise
representatives of the Iraqi regime and the opposition.

The statement said that the participants "set down the principles and the
basis for a comprehensive national reconciliation," with participants and
organizers creating the mechanism needed to implement this reconciliation,
"which should give birth to an Iraqi government of national consensus."

Hizbullah said it favored free and fair elections to produce the government,
which it said should focus on three tasks - safeguarding national unity and
rebuilding, solving problems with neighboring countries, and resolving
Iraq's outstanding problems with the United Nations.

"These measures will produce a regime that enjoys popular internal
legitimacy and credibility regionally and internationally, which would
remove the justifications for the aggression (to be launched by) the
American administration," Hizbullah said.

On Friday, Nasrallah had advised the Iraqi regime to "seek humbleness before
meeting with opposition factions Š (and agree upon) transparent elections
that should (in turn) give birth to a government representing all factions,
including the ruling Baath Party."


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54040-2003Feb10.html

*  RIVALRY FOR EYES OF ARAB WORLD
by Anthony Shadid
Washington Post, 11th February

DOHA, Qatar -- From London to the Persian Gulf, Arab journalists and
investors are gearing up to challenge the primacy of al-Jazeera, the
Qatar-based satellite TV channel whose professional if sometimes sensational
24-hour broadcasts have shattered taboos and created an appetite for
unfettered news across the Arab world.

The onset of competition in unbridled reporting marks one of the most
far-reaching changes in the Arab world over the past decade, transforming
news media that, in spirit if not letter, were shadowed by an 1865 Ottoman
Empire law that required journalists to "report on the precious health of
the sultan." It provides a striking window, too, on fear in Arab capitals
over the impact on public opinion of a war against Iraq, and a sense that
the conflict may be waged as much on the airwaves as on the battlefield.

A Saudi-owned company plans to launch an around-the-clock satellite news
channel to compete directly with al-Jazeera, in time, it hopes, for war in
Iraq. One of the Arab world's leading newspapers and an influential Lebanese
entertainment channel have begun merging their news departments, with talk
of another all-news station. Other entrants, from Algeria, Britain and Abu
Dhabi, could be joined in the months ahead by a 24-hour Arabic-language news
channel from Iran and a second station in Dubai.

Al-Jazeera, which gained fame after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by airing
taped messages from Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, has planned its
answer to the competition: After managing to irritate virtually every
country in the region in Arabic, it now plans to expand into English,
providing an alternative to what its journalists view as biased Western
coverage. It will unveil an English-language counterpart to its Arabic Web
site next month and, by early next year, it plans English-language
broadcasts designed to compete with CNN and BBC.

"Everybody's trying to open a TV station now," said Nart Bouran, the news
center director at Abu Dhabi TV, which has tried to challenge al-Jazeera's
commanding popularity. "All of a sudden, a lot of people have realized that
media [are] so important and a degree of freedom is the only way to attract
an audience. If you don't open up, nobody's going to watch."

But to succeed, journalists said, the new entrants will have to escape the
inevitable tag that their funding will bring. All have ties to governments,
through investment, advertising or facilities, including al-Jazeera. Whether
those governments give the stations as long a leash as Qatar has granted
al-Jazeera since its inception in 1996 remains a question.

"Once they start the channel, you will discover who's controlling them
immediately," predicted Ibrahim Hilal, 32, an Egyptian journalist who took
over as chief editor of al Jazeera two months before Sept. 11.

The most ambitious endeavor to date is al-Arabiya, which plans to begin
broadcasting Feb. 20. Based in a sleek, new headquarters in Dubai, an
Oz-like city quickly becoming the unofficial capital of the Persian Gulf, it
has spent heavily to hire the top talent from a pool that editors say is
frustratingly small. Salah Nigm, a BBC veteran and chief editor of al
Jazeera until 2001, was hired to direct the news operation. Fifteen offers
were made to al Jazeera journalists, some at two or three times their
current salaries, Hilal said. Five accepted.

The Middle East Broadcasting Center, owned by the brother-in-law of Saudi
Arabia's King Fahd, will run the channel. Along with other Saudi, Kuwaiti
and Lebanese investors, it will funnel $300 million into a news operation
with a staff of 500 that will provide programming to al-Arabiya and two
existing MBC channels, said Ibrahim Hedeithy, MBC's director general.

"Al-Jazeera has dominated the scene for the last six or seven years,"
Hedeithy said in an interview. "We're trying to provide an alternative.
There is only al-Jazeera, and we're trying to give them another choice."

The choices are multiplying. Abu Dhabi TV already broadcasts eight hours of
news and, until now, posed the strongest competition to al-Jazeera, with 25
correspondents. Other stations are beginning in Algeria and Britain.
Al-Jazeera managers said they also expect competition from the Iranian
channel and a rumored project in Dubai.

In an unusual experiment, the Lebanese channel LBC and London-based
newspaper Al Hayat, which is owned by Prince Khalid bin Sultan, Fahd's
nephew, have invested $12 million a year in a joint venture called Newsroom
Ink. Run by Jihad Khazen, a former Al Hayat editor and columnist, the
venture has tapped the newspaper's 69 correspondents to supply news for
LBC's three half-hour daily bulletins. Once a studio is finished being
built, one of the bulletins will move from Beirut to London.

Khazen said that if the venture succeeds, there are plans for yet another
24-hour news channel. But he called the project "uncharted territory" and
acknowledged problems in merging television and newspaper cultures. One of
his print reporters in the Persian Gulf refuses to appear on television for
religious reasons. Then there are consultants, he said, who "are driving me
mad with talk of synergy."

And after decades editing four newspapers, the technology of television has
proved intimidating. "They tell me things I've never heard in my life. I
keep quiet and they think I'm wise," he said from London.

Without exception, all the stations are seeking to achieve with a war in
Iraq what World War II did for Time magazine, the 1991 Persian Gulf War did
for CNN and the war in Afghanistan did for al-Jazeera. Abu Dhabi TV plans to
begin around-the-clock news if U.S. forces invade. Al-Arabiya is racing to
place 12 journalists and technicians in Baghdad for war coverage. Unlike
al-Jazeera, which is barred from all Iraq's Arab neighbors, it also expects
to send staff to Jordan and Kuwait.

Al-Jazeera, which opened an office in Baghdad in 1997, has spent months
laying the groundwork for war. Its managing director, Mohamed Jassem Ali,
has traveled repeatedly to the Iraqi capital, winning a meeting with
President Saddam Hussein. It plans to send 10 reporters to join four already
there, said Omar Bec, the station's director of newsgathering and
operations. "Iraq will be the real competition," Hilal said.

Because of al-Jazeera's willingness to push the envelope, it has been
expelled from Kuwait, Jordan and Algeria. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the
State Department called its coverage "inflammatory" and complained to Qatar
about repeated airing of a 1998 interview with bin Laden. In November 2001,
U.S. forces bombed its Kabul office. The Pentagon called it an accident;
al-Jazeera officials said otherwise.

Its coverage, particularly on talk shows that give wide license to Arab
nationalist and Islamic opposition figures and no-holds-barred call-in
programs, has caused diplomatic problems between Qatar and virtually every
Arab country. In December, Saudi Arabia boycotted a meeting of the Gulf
Cooperation Council in Doha because of al-Jazeera's coverage. A month
earlier, Bahrain's information minister accused the network of being "in the
pay of Zionism." On a tour of the network's modest, one-story studio,
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt once famously shouted: "This matchbox! All
this noise is coming out of this matchbox!"

Hedeithy insisted al-Arabiya would not be a watered-down al-Jazeera. With
the changes al Jazeera has brought, he said, no one can afford the secrecy
of the past, such as when Saudi media delayed for two days news of Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

"In this day and age, if you don't cover the news, if you try to hide
things, you shoot yourself in the foot," he said.

But Salah Kallab, a former Jordanian information minister who will serve as
al-Arabiya's director general, made clear al-Arabiya did not envy
al-Jazeera's role as a provocateur. His vision, he said, was far more sober.
"We are not going to make problems for Arab countries," Kallab said. "We'll
stick with the truth, but there's no sensationalism."

To al-Jazeera's journalists, 55 correspondents in 35 bureaus, one person's
sensationalism is another person's freedom. So far, that freedom has been
guaranteed under Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Thani, the Qatari leader. Since
taking power in the most undemocratic of ways -- he overthrew his
vacationing father in 1995 -- he has allowed an Israeli trade office to
remain open, fostered ties with Iraq, invited U.S. forces into a sprawling
base at Al Udeid and subsidized al-Jazeera at $150 million over five years.

Al-Jazeera's maverick quality has limited its commercial success. In 2001,
the station received an estimated $53 million in advertising, out of a total
of $714 million for all satellite stations broadcasting to the region. Of
the total, three-fourths went to the Middle East Broadcasting Center,
Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation and Future, all well connected
politically, according to Naomi Sakr, author of "Satellite Realms:
Transnational Television, Globalization and the Middle East."

But Hamad plans to spend at least an additional $20 million a year on the
English-language broadcasts, which the station wants to begin by February
2004 after hiring a new staff of 300, said Jassem, the station's managing
director. Within two years, the goal is to go to a 24 hour service,
targeting not only North America and Europe but also English-speaking
residents of South Asia.

"I take my hat off to Qatar," said Jian Yacoubi, an Iraqi Kurd who works as
senior program producer at al-Jazeera. "No one can compete with us. Ask me
why. Not because we are geniuses. We have only one secret weapon they don't
have -- freedom."

Correspondent Peter Baker in Kuwait City contributed to this report.


http://www.jordantimes.com/Tue/news/news4.htm

*  ARABS SHOWER FRANCE WITH PRAISE FOR OPPOSING US WAR EFFORTS
by Habib Trabelsi
Jordan Times, from Agence France-Presse,11th February

DUBAI ‹ Stiff opposition to US war plans against Iraq has won France
widespread praise in the Arab world, but the Iraqi opposition accused it of
cynically defending President Saddam Hussein's regime to safeguard its oil
interests.

"France is seeking to give a chance to a political settlement while being
committed to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441" on
Iraqi disarmament, waxed Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Abdullah Al Kurbi.

"Whether or not it succeeds in convincing the United States to abandon the
use of force, France will be perceived as a country that has defended the UN
Charter till the end."

Mohammad Said Idriss, from Cairo's Al Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies,
said France and Germany were seeking to "attenuate US influence in Europe."

"The United States is trying to impose its diktat on the world ... the
position of France is based on a refusal of US hegemony," said the editor of
Egyptianweekly Al Usbu, Mustapha Bakri.

"France is also trying to safeguard its good relations with the Arab world."

But Ahmad Chalabi, who heads the US-backed Iraqi National Congress
opposition umbrella group, lashed out at France and Germany for blocking US
war plans.

"France's policy is driven by French commercial and oil interests, they are
allied to Saddam and they are trying to save him in the hope they can
preserve their illicit contracts with him," Chalabi charged.

He told AFP in rebel-held northern Iraq that he was convinced the United
States would go to war even if some powers continued to resist a second
resolution authorising force.

Gulf newspapers said the reported Franco-German initiative for a peaceful
settlement threw a spoke in the US wheel.

"The United States is seeking a blank cheque on Iraq, but the Franco-German
plan withdrew it and gave it to the United Nations," said Qatar's Al Watan
daily.

"America is unable to rally the world around its project for Iraq, as
Belgium has followed France and Germany in the anti-war camp," wrote the UAE
daily Al Bayan.

German news weekly Der Spiegel leaked a joint Franco-German peace plan ‹ not
yet officially confirmed by either side ‹ calling for a tripling of the
number of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq and an expansion of no-fly zones to
cover the whole country. Russia reacted positively.

And NATO was plunged into crisis Monday after Belgium, France and Germany
blocked Washington's bid to begin logistical planning to defend Turkey, the
alliance's only Muslim member and the only one to share a border with Iraq.

"The Franco-German plan proves that international diplomacy has not given up
... and that it is still possible to work to avoid war," said Al Rai Arabic
daily.

The reported plan is also a reply to "the partisans of war who seek to
impose a fait accompli on the world ... in contempt of international law and
the UN Charter," it added.

But Saudi newspaper Al Madina wondered whether Franco-German opposition to
war was "solid enough to resist US pressure."

The paper's editorialist, Daud Al Shariyan, saw in France's position "a
public relations campaign."

"Arab states know from experience that France acts in accordance with its
interests. By opposing the military option, it wins the sympathy of Arab
states who think it has done everything in its power to avoid war," wrote
Shariyan.

"Paris will not resist Washington's will for long. It will eventually rally
to the US position."


http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/12/international/middleeast/12TAPE.html

*  TAPE ASCRIBED TO BIN LADEN URGES MUSLIMS TO STAND WITH IRAQ
by Neil MacFarquhar
New York Times, 11th February

KUWAIT CITY, Feb. 11 ‹ A recorded message apparently made by Osama bin Laden
called on Muslims today to repulse any United States attempt to invade Iraq,
urging them to apply the lessons learned by Al Qaeda, his terror network.

The message stressed that no matter how distasteful it might be to
believers, fighting on the same side of godless regimes like that of Saddam
Hussein was justified by the greater good of battling the United States.

"This crusader war is mainly targeting Muslims, regardless of Saddam and the
socialist party," said the speaker, believed to be Mr. bin Laden, in an
apparent reference to Iraq's ruling Baath Party.

"The fighting should be in the name of God only, not in the name of national
ideologies, nor to seek victory for the ignorant governments that rule all
Arab states, including Iraq," the speaker said. "All Muslims have to begin
jihad against this unjust war."

The 16-minute audiotape was broadcast by Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite
television station, on the Feast of Sacrifice, the Muslims' most important
holiday. It offered little evidence of an alliance between Mr. Hussein and
Mr. bin Laden, but it did seem to validate Arab leaders' warnings that
Islamic extremists would exploit any assault on Baghdad to further inflame
the region. Mr. bin Laden called for the overthrow of Arab regimes in the
atmosphere being engendered by the confrontation over Iraq.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, revealing the existence of the tape in
testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, seized on it as evidence that
Al Qaeda and Iraq are in league against the West.

Mr. Powell said the tape was believed to be authentic. It was the first
message from Mr. bin Laden since November, when he praised a spate of terror
attacks around the world.

Al Jazeera said today's tape had been received along the same route as the
last one, but would not give further details.

Speaking in Arabic, his comments containing pious expressions and examples
drawn from historical Muslim conquests, Mr. bin Laden urged Iraqis to wear
down the American forces through extended urban warfare.

"Our mujahedeen brothers in Iraq, do not be horrified about what America is
propagating about their force, smart bombs, laser-directed bombs," he said.
"These smart bombs have no effect in mountains and caves, forests, they need
very obvious targets to be effective. Camouflaged targets cannot be hit by
either smart bombs or stupid bombs."

Mr. bin Laden, who American officials believe may be hiding in western
Pakistan, repeatedly boasted about the ability of his fighters to survive
American assaults. He described the assault on Iraq as partly an effort to
seize its oil assets and partly a vendetta by Bush family, neither cause
likely to inspire American soldiers to fight very hard.

"We advise you of the importance of luring them into prolonged, hand-to-hand
combat, a draining fight," he said. "They fear nothing more than urban and
street warfare because they cannot face many losses."

He also stressed the effectiveness of suicide attacks, citing their use
against the United States and Israel.

Mr. bin Laden, quoting a Koranic verse against taking Christians and Jews as
allies, also threatened Arab and other regimes who he said were close to
Washington.

He said Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco, Pakistan and Nigeria were ripe
for being "liberated from the slavery of these ruling, apostate, unjust
regimes who are enslaved by America."




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