The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] News, 05-09/03/03 (6)



News, 05-09/03/03 (6)

ARAB OPINION

*  'Peace initiatives' proliferate, while Kuwait guns for Moussa
*  Peaceniks: 50 Years After Stalin's Death
*  Politicians praise Maronite bishops' stand on conflict
*  The post-summit quest for reforming the Arab world
*  The Arab summit, a post-mortem
*  Arabs trade insults as Israelis cash in and Turks cut their losses
*  Bahrain's foreign minister off to US to discuss Iraq crisis
*  Can anyone stand in the way of the 'axis of war?'


ARAB OPINION

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/06_03_03_f.htm

*  'PEACE INITIATIVES' PROLIFERATE, WHILE KUWAIT GUNS FOR MOUSSA
Lebanon Daily Star, 6th March

As Muslim leaders meet in Qatar, Arab opinion is divided over how they can
best add their collective voice to the international chorus of opposition to
an American invasion of Iraq.

Newspapers highlight Iran's contribution to the fast-growing list of
"initiatives" aimed at resolving the Iraq crisis peacefully, just three days
after the United Arab Emirates formally proposed that Arab states call on
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to stand down in order to deter a US
invasion.

The Beirut daily As-Safir reports that in unveiling Tehran's plan - which
calls for a "national reconciliation" between the Iraqi regime and the Iraqi
opposition, followed by referendum supervised by the UN - Foreign Minister
Kamal Kharrazi made a point of saying it was substantively "different" to
the UAE initiative.

But the paper also sees the Iranian proposal as having been given an early,
if indirect, American thumbs down - in the form of remarks by a White House
spokesman stressing Washington's opposition to any Iranian influence in
Iraq. He was commenting on reports that fighters from the Iranian-backed
Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) had deployed in
Iraqi Kurdistan recently in anticipation of military action.

However, the semi-official Abu Dhabi daily Al-Ittihad sees the Iranian
proposal as being consistent with the UAE initiative, and argues that the
Islamic Conference Organization (ICO) ought to espouse peaceful regime
change in Iraq at its Doha summit.

The paper runs an editorial expressing bitter disappointment that last
weekend's Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh "did not deal seriously" with the
UAE suggestion, which it describes as "the only serious proposal that
offered a lucid idea of how to end the sharp predicament we are all in."

Al-Ittihad suggests the Islamic summit should not make the same mistake, but
consider adopting the initiative and similar proposals "such as the
initiative put forward by Iran, whose main points and details do not
conflict with the UAE ideas but reaffirm the fundamental principle of giving
the interests and future of peoples priority over personal interests or
ambitions."

But the Sharjah-based UAE daily Al-Khaleej, which generally takes a
pan-Arabist editorial line, pointedly fails to endorse the initiative in its
leader on the ICO summit. Rather, it argues that as the Doha gathering
appears incapable of going beyond the Sharm el-Sheikh summit over Iraq, or
of influencing Washington's plans, it ought to focus its attention
elsewhere, specifically on Palestine.

The paper warns that if Arab and Islamic states allow the Iraq crisis to
continue distracting the world's attention and fail to react to Israel's
ever-escalating aggression against the Palestinians, "this will lead to a
catastrophe no less severe than that of 1948."

Israel's right-wing government is planning to exploit America's war to
accelerate its ethnic cleansing of Palestine and create new "facts on the
ground" to impose its dictates on them by force, it cautions.

The Doha summit must show the Palestinians that they are not alone,
Al-Khaleej writes, "and statements alone do not suffice, neither with regard
to Iraq nor Palestine."

The summit's Qatari hosts meanwhile reiterate their endorsement of the
initiative on Iraq via the Doha daily Al-Sharq, which urges the ICO to take
up the demand for Saddam's ouster. The paper runs an editorial stressing the
importance of the meeting, which it describes as representing over a billion
Muslims worldwide, and the influence it could wield if it spoke in a single
voice.

It goes on to take an indirect swipe at Saudi Arabia for suggesting that
there was no need for an Islamic summit so soon after the meeting of Arab
heads of state, remarking that the large number of Muslim leaders who have
converged on Doha "affirms that the initiative to convene this summit came
at a time when the umma (community) needs more than ever to make its voice
heard."

Al-Sharq adds that while no one claims the ICO summit can determine the
course of events in Iraq, it does have the capacity to reinforce
international efforts to prevent war, especially "in light of the UAE
initiative, which is gaining more supporters by the day, and which
constitutes a blueprint for a rational peaceful solution to spare Iraq from
war."

Independent Arab commentators are sharply divided over the perceived merits
and pitfalls of the UAE blueprint. Lebanese columnist Saad Mehio thinks it
was a mistake for the Arab leaders not to take it up at their summit in
Sharm el-Sheikh.

He writes in Al-Khaleej that one can only speculate about their reasons for
not doing so: Self-preservation? Fear of being perceived as protagonists in
the crisis? Or perhaps they may have "felt that such a political solution
might anger the Americans because it might disrupt their war plans."

Whatever the motives, "the summit missed its only opportunity to restore
some authority to the Arabs' reputation," Mehio says.

"It could have turned things upside down from within the region had its
participants possessed enough courage to discuss Sheikh Zayed's proposal,"
he writes.

"They could thus have hit several birds with on stone: invalidating the real
reason for war; halting the rapid internationalization of Iraq and returning
it more quickly to the Arab fold; and upholding the Arabs as an influential
bloc on the world stage."

The latter point is of paramount importance, "because it is obvious to
everyone with eyes (other than the summit's eyes) that the Arab map is soon
set to be redrawn in the Arabs' absence. The opportunity has now been
missed, but the plan remains in place. And sooner or later this proposal
will impose itself on the region's agenda, albeit not in harmony with the
Arab agenda," Mehio writes.

But Egyptian columnist Assayed Zahra is fiercely critical of the Arab states
that have taken to calling on the Iraqi leadership to step down.

Writing in the Bahrain daily Akhbar al-Khaleej, he takes issue with the
assumption that Saddam's resignation would prevent an American invasion. He
points out that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has stated on the
record that the Iraqi leadership's departure would not necessarily pre-empt
military action by the US, as Washington will need to ensure that any
successor regime does its bidding.

The Bush administration has made abundantly clear that, regardless whether
Saddam quits or not, its aim is to occupy Iraq and acquire direct control
over the country as a prelude to reshaping the entire region, he says.

If the Iraqi leadership were to lose power, either by abdicating or as a
result of a coup, the US forces deployed in the region would march into Iraq
"the next day" and Washington would proceed to "implement its colonial
scheme for the region exactly as planned," Zahra predicts.

It will cite the need to ensure that the successor regime isn't a Saddam
clone, that Iraq disarms, that it doesn't "threaten America and its
neighbors etc.," or a number of excuses. When American officials talk of
Saddam stepping down, all they have in mind is the prospect of sparing their
invading troops casualties and an unpredictable confrontation.

"I challenge anyone to produce a single statement by a single American
official stating that if the Iraqi leadership relinquishes power that will
be sufficient for the US to desist from occupying Iraq," Zahra writes.

"And those in the Arab world who speak of 'guarantees' in exchange for the
Iraqi leadership's departure are deluded. Who exactly will give them such
guarantees, and on what occasion? America? Since when have they (Arab
leaders) ever been able to obtain guarantees from America? And where will
they get the clout to force it to provide them now? From the UN? The UN
hasn't been able to guarantee even a modicum of protection for the
Palestinians.

"And if it (the UN) were in a position to guarantee anything in Iraq, then
it would prevent war in the first place," he argues. "Can any Arab leader
claim he has a 'guarantee' that America won't occupy Iraq but will leave the
country to run its own affairs?"

This being the case, says Zahra, Arab calls for Saddam to relinquish power
are not what they seem.

"They are a mark of the Arabs' impotence. Instead of rallying all the Arabs'
energies in support of the world powers and international public opinions
that oppose war as a matter of principle, they call on the Iraqi leadership
to surrender in advance with nothing in return and no guarantees of
anything," he writes.

This amounts, essentially, to "unpaid assistance to America" and help in
facilitating its plans to occupy Iraq and colonize the region.

"If we, governments and peoples, are supposed to accept the moral and
political principle and demand that any Arab leadership surrender merely
because America is threatening aggression, then we will have to prepare a
long list of Arab and Islamic leaders whose resignation we will be obliged
to demand in future because America doesn't like them and wants them
changed," he says.

"The reality is, very briefly, that these calls do not 'block the road' to
anything - neither the invasion of Iraq nor the colonization of the region.
They are merely calls for gratuitous surrender."

Separately, the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi suggests that the row within
the Arab world over the UAE initiative could end up costing Arab League
Secretary-General Amr Moussa his job.

The paper highlights the way media in the UAE have been fiercely attacking
Moussa for opposing Abu Dhabi's suggestions and accusing him of blocking any
discussion at Sharm el Sheikh. His aides insist he did nothing wrong, but he
infuriated Abu Dhabi further when he appeared on the new Al-Arabiya
satellite TV channel to liken Sheikh Zayed's demand for Saddam's resignation
to Israel's demand for the removal of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Al-Quds al-Arabi notes that the Kuwaitis have also been gunning for Moussa,
especially since he chaired last month's meeting of Arab foreign ministers,
which opposed, despite the emirate's objections, the provision of Arab base
facilities to American troops preparing to invade Iraq. It expects him to
come under growing pressure from other Gulf states too, after efforts by
intermediaries to placate them came to nothing.

The paper says the spat at the summit between Saudi Arabia and Libya has
compounded Moussa's problems. Although Libya's Colonel Moammar Gadhafi
showed remarkable restraint when Crown Prince Abdullah hurled abuse at him,
accusing him of being a stooge and a liar, the incident is bound to
reinforce his resolve to pull Libya out of the Arab League.

With Libya having halted its funding of Arab League activities long ago, and
the Gulf states now joining forces against him, Moussa finds himself without
the support of the very countries he needs to finance his ambitious plans
for reforming the League and reviving its role.

Al-Quds al-Arabi's sources quip that the "Gulf veto" could be set to have
the same effect on Moussa's career as the Egyptian pop-singer Shaaban
Abderrahim - whose laudatory song about him is seen as having gotten him
sacked from his previous job as his country's foreign minister.

Moussa's Kuwaiti detractors meanwhile come under fire in the Jordanian daily
Ad-Dustour for volunteering to host additional US troops after they were
barred from deploying in Turkey to mount an invasion of Iraq.

Bater Mohammad Ali Wardam writes that the Kuwaiti move severely undermines
the Arab anti-war effort. What, he wonders, are the Arabs going to say to
the Turkish Parliament, whose members voted to block an assault on an Arab
country from their territory?

And what are they going to tell the Europeans, who are trying to spare the
Arab world the horrors of a war in which Arab governments are themselves
colluding? How can the Arabs ask the world to defend them when they collude
with external aggressors against each other?

"History will judge, and its judgment will be harsh on those who help stab
Iraq in the back," Wardam warns. "Those whose decisions are motivated by
revenge and reflect a vindictive tribal mentality will be the first to pay."


http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=23389

*  PEACENIKS: 50 YEARS AFTER STALIN'S DEATH
by Amir Taheri
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 7th March

"The rebirth of the peace movement." This is how sections of the Western
media describe the marches that attracted 30 million people in some 600
cities, in 25 countries, across the globe last month.

On March 5, a group of "peaceniks" gathered in London to discuss ways of
nursing the "reborn" child into adulthood. By coincidence, that date also
marked the 50th anniversary of Josef Stalin's death. The Soviet dictator was
the father of the first "peace movement" which for years served as an
instrument of the Kremlin's global policy.

Stalin's "peace movement" was launched in 1946 at a time he had not yet
developed a nuclear arsenal and was thus vulnerable to an American nuclear
attack. Stalin also needed time to consolidate his hold on his newly
conquered empire in Eastern and Central Europe while snatching chunks of
territory in Iran.

The "peaceniks" of the time were told to wear white shirts, release white
doves during their demonstrations, and shake their clenched fists against
"imperialists and revanchists." Soon it became clear that the "peace
movement" was not opposed to all wars, but only to those that threatened the
USSR, its allies and its satellites.

For example, the peaceniks did not object to Stalin's decision to keep the
entire Chechen nation in exile in Siberia. The peaceniks did not march to
ask Stalin to withdraw his forces from Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan.
When Stalin annexed 15 percent of Finland's territory, none of the peaceniks
protested. Neither did they march when the Soviets annexed the three Baltic
republics. Nor did the peaceniks grumble when Soviet tanks rolled into
Warsaw and Budapest, and a decade later also into Prague, to crush popular
uprisings against Communist tyranny.

But when the Americans led a coalition, under the United Nations mandate, to
prevent North Korean Communists from conquering the South, the peaceniks
were on the march everywhere.

The peace movement targeted the Western democracies, and sought to weaken
their resolve to protect their freedom against the Soviet threat. Over the
years nobody marched against any of the client regimes of the Soviet Union
that engaged in numerous wars, including against their own people. The wars
that China's Communist regime waged against the peoples of Manchuria, Tibet,
East Turkestan and Inner Mongolia, lands that were eventually annexed and
subjected to "ethnic cleansing", provoked no protest marches. Even when
China attacked India and grabbed Indian territories the size of England, the
peace movement did not budge.

In the 1960s, the peace movement transformed itself into a campaign for
unilateral nuclear disarmament. Here, unilateral meant that only the Western
powers had to give up their arsenal, thus giving the Soviet Union a monopoly
on nuclear weapons. The peace movement spent a good part of the 1960s
opposing American intervention in Vietnam.

The 1980s gave the movement a new lease of life as it focused on opposing
the establishment of American Pershing missiles in West Germany and the
Benelux countries. The Pershings represented a response to Soviet SS-20
missiles that had already been stationed in Central Europe and aimed at all
Western European capitals. But the peaceniks never asked for both the
Pershings and the SS-20s to be withdrawn. They just wanted the American
missiles to go.

President Ronald Reagan's proposal to the Soviets that both the SS-20s and
the Pershings be withdrawn was attacked and ridiculed by the peaceniks as "
an American imperialist trick." Francois Mitterrand, then France's Socialist
president, put it this way: "The missiles are in the East but the peaceniks
are in the West!"

Last week the British daily The Guardian asked a number of peaceniks to
explain why they opposed the use of force to liberate Iraq? The main reason
they felt they had to support Saddam was that he was disliked by the United
States. What about a peace march in support of the Chechen people? Oh, no,
that wouldn't do: the US is not involved.

The peace movement would merit the label only if it opposed all wars,
including those waged by tyrants against their own people, not just those in
which the US is involved. Did it march when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran? Not
at all. Did it march when Saddam invaded Kuwait? Again: nix! Later, they
marched, with the slogan: "No Blood for Oil", when the US led coalition came
to liberate Kuwait. Did it march when Saddam was gassing the Kurds to death?
Oh, no.

If Stalin were around today he would have a chuckle: His peace movement
remains as alive in the Western democracies as it was half-a-century ago.
The spirit that inspires these marches remains the same: anti-democratic,
anti-West, anti-American, and fascinated by "strongmen", like Stalin or
Saddam Hussein, who are supposed to have the magic power of bending history
to their will.


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/07_03_03/art2.asp

*  POLITICIANS PRAISE MARONITE BISHOPS' STAND ON CONFLICT
by Maurice Kaldawi
Lebanon Daily Star, 7th March

Political leaders poured praise Thursday on a statement issued by Maronite
bishops paying tribute to Syria's "wisdom and vision," believing it would
help "turn a new page" in relations between the two countries and
consolidate national unity.

They were commenting on a statement issued by the Council of Maronite
Bishops Wednesday following a monthly meeting in Bkirki under the direction
of the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir.

The statement welcomed remarks made by Syrian President Bashar Assad at last
week's Arab League summit that some member states seemed to be unaware they
were in the "heart of danger." The statement, which also expressed
opposition to war and called for strengthening peace efforts, was seen as a
possible sign of Bkirki's will to mend ties with Damascus.

Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, described the statement as a "qualitative move
demonstrating a high spirit of national responsibility" on the part of the
bishops headed by Sfeir.

"We welcome this stand and highly appreciate it in the current sensitive and
delicate phase through which the region is passing," he told the An-Nahar
daily. He called for moving on toward a "serious in-depth dialogue" designed
to consolidate the domestic situation in the face of the challenges facing
the region and strengthen Lebanese-Syrian ties.

In turn, Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares said the timing, content and
formulation of the statement had been met with "extreme and unanimous
satisfaction" by political and religious circles and would help consolidate
national unity and the domestic front. He said the patriarch had always
sought "first and foremost the interests of Lebanon, all its people and
every inch of its territory."

Fares also praised President Emile Lahoud's remarks Wednesday that the
Lebanese were united on basic causes and his call for an open dialogue among
various leaders, saying this called for optimism about the country's future.

Former Prime Minister Salim Hoss paid tribute to the Vatican and Bkirki for
rejecting war against Iraq and advocating a peaceful solution to the crisis,
saying such stands foiled claims about a conflict between civilizations
targeting Muslims.

"The statement issued by Maronite bishops truly reflects the Vatican's
honorable stand and accordingly, it is natural for it to be welcomed with
satisfaction in Lebanon," he said.

The Maronite League said the statement reflected the "spirit of
responsibility with which the community's prelates deal with decisive
issues" and paved the way for a "new political phase governed by true
awareness of the dangers and challenges" of the current phase.

The statement was also being "fair to the advanced position" adopted by
Assad at the summit and opened "a new page in Lebanese-Syrian relations," he
added.

The Democratic Renewal Movement, headed by opposition heavyweight and Metn
MP Nassib Lahoud, expressed satisfaction with the "exchange of signs of
confidence" between Bkirki and Damascus, especially in the "critical
international and regional situation."

"This atmosphere of confidence constitutes an opportunity that must not be
missed to continue resisting the planned war on Iraq and warding off its
dangers to Lebanon and the region  as well as to launch a comprehensive
national dialogue on all issues of concern to the Lebanese people," it said
in a statement.

The Lebanese Forces (LF) led by pro-regime figure Fouad Malek also praised
the statement, saying the positions of the Maronite Church would "bode well
for Lebanon, its Christians and all its people." A LF statement also
expressed hope that Lebanese politicians would "follow such a constructive
course in the interest of the homeland, its people and the good of sisterly
countries."

Beirut MP Mohammed Qabbani, a member of Hariri's Dignity parliamentary bloc,
said the bishops' statement should be welcomed along with the Vatican's
moves to "confront the American war on Iraq."


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/07_03_03_c.htm

*  THE POST-SUMMIT QUEST FOR REFORMING THE ARAB WORLD
by Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi
Lebanon Daily Star, 7th March

After the fiasco at Sharm el-Sheikh, should we Saudis start looking for
another Arab League? Or should we stick with the existing organization and
try to improve it?

The Saudis never really wanted to attend the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, and
only did so to accommodate their fellow Arabs.

What the Saudis want to see is a new Arab beginning after the Iraq war. They
expressed their vision of a new Arab world in a reform initiative that Crown
Prince Abdullah intended to announce at the summit. But Abdullah decided
against making this initiative public when he saw that the atmosphere at
Sharm was inappropriate. Many Arab leaders, it seems, still view summits as
little more than political talking shops where they can analyze current
affairs, engage in political debate, and try to score points with an Arab
public opinion they are leading on a road to nowhere.

At the summit, we saw one Arab leader wasting precious time preaching to his
peers, knowing full well that his "wisdom" was being transmitted live to the
entire Arab world. He thus treated them to a theoretical political analysis
worthy of an editor in chief of a pan Arab newspaper.

Another leader launched a vitriolic attack on the United States and its
plans for the region, conveniently overlooking the fact that American
security officials had free rein in his country.

In a situation like this, it was inevitable that tempers would fray and
eventually explode. In other words, had that now-famous exchange between
Crown Prince Abdullah and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi not taken place,
there would surely have been others between other Arab leaders, so great has
the distance grown between them and so different their visions of the
future.

To be fair to the Arab League, it did try several times to assume executive
leadership of various military and economic Arab joint enterprises, but it
always failed.

Failure was inevitable, however, given the great discrepancies between the
political systems in various Arab states. The political makeup of Libya, for
example, is vastly different to that of Saudi Arabia. That is why there is
no meaningful economic cooperation between the two countries. By contrast,
Saudi Arabian trade with countries like Tunisia and Morocco far exceeds that
with Libya.

What happened at Sharm between Saudi Arabia and Libya, and between Iraq and
the UAE (the latter called for the leader of the former to step down in
order to settle the Iraq crisis), could best be described as the end of the
era of Arabs accommodating each other.

Libya can never become part of the Arab common market Abdullah is calling
for unless it changes its laws, regulations and its view of the modern
state. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia can - and does - engage in normal
economic exchanges with countries like Turkey and Iran, with whom it shares
the common values of respect for free markets, commitment to agreements
signed and upholding the rights of the private sector.

The UAE, for its part, was justified in calling on Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein to step down - even if such a demand is unprecedented, contradicts
the basic tenets of the Arab League, and is a brazen "interference in the
internal affairs of a sovereign Arab state," as Arab analysts are wont to
say.

Yet it is time all Arabs answered the following question: Can an Arab (or
Middle Eastern) zone of cooperation and integration be established in the
presence of Saddam Hussein? The answer to this question is well known.

This being the case, we have to admit that the Arab League has to change.
The principle of consensus built on compromise and trying to please everyone
that the league was established upon must change, otherwise it will become
little more than a debating chamber.

If, on the other hand, the league proves resistant to change, the day will
surely come when Saudi Arabia will feel compelled to widen the Gulf
Cooperation Council (which groups Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE)
in an effort to find bigger markets and other friends sharing its vision of
a strong Arab and/or Middle Eastern regional club built on developing the
region and spreading wealth and prosperity.

This does not include Israel. Israel has to rethink the reasons why it is
part of the region before knocking on our door. It does, however, include a
new democratic Iraq - and other newly liberated countries as well.

The choice before us is clear. We can either continue to have long,
drawn-out meetings in which we lecture each other on the evils of
imperialism and colonialism, and then go home having agreed to resolutions
that will never be implemented, or we can hold productive meetings between
leaders who agree on the meaning of a modern state and whose legitimacy is
based on the people and not their security organizations; leaders who can
understand each other when they discuss issues like unifying customs
arrangements, facilitating freedom of movement, or agreeing on common
standards of education; meetings with maps, graphs, truthfulness in listing
achievements and frank criticism of failure.

Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative for Arab reform is too important to wait
another year. Reform cannot be put off any longer, and time waits for no
one. Reform needs nerve, not Arab League-style compromises.

The compromise mentality played a role in watering down leaked copies of
Abdullah's initiative. Several articles were crossed out, such as that
calling on countries that disagree with the initiative to withdraw from it
early on. The version leaked at Sharm upheld the principle of collectivity -
as if the Arabs were fated either to rise up together or commit mass
suicide.

We have to admit that there are certain Arab countries that are unfit for
reform and change at the moment. We must leave these countries behind -
after advising them - and go our own way toward a better Arab world with
those who agree with us. We have already wasted half a century and more, and
the world is changing fast.

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi is a Jeddah-based 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.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/07_03_03_e.htm

*  THE ARAB SUMMIT, A POST-MORTEM
by Joseph Samaha
Lebanon Daily Star, 7th March

Arab leaders attended their latest summit like lazy schoolchildren forced to
do their homework. They would have preferred not to have met at all; but
they realized it would look worse to postpone a regular summit than it would
be to hold an ineffective one. Holding a summit now, before war is joined in
Iraq, is far better than holding one with war raging, or with the Americans
in Baghdad, or with no meaningful Iraqi representation.

This being the case, it was decided to hold as short a meeting as possible.
One day was enough. There was no problem in spending a few hours at Sharm
el-Sheikh after which the leaders would breathe a sigh of relief, go home,
and basically just wait for the storm to pass before discussing deals based
on the new situation that is expected to emerge.

The leaders wanted summit proceedings to be held in public, not because they
had nothing to hide and wanted to be transparent with their citizens, but
because each of them wished to address his own people.

Besides, meeting in camera means that serious decisions have to be made and
credible policies drawn up by the participants. It means that a course has
to be charted for the period between the summit itself and the outbreak of
armed hostilities (including trying to influence UN Security Council
members).

Since none of these steps were on the cards, there was no need for secrecy.
The leaders could almost as well have held a televised round table
discussion of current events, and issued a short statement afterward
outlining their positions.

Yet the public nature of the summit at Sharm el-Sheikh caused grief to some
delegates at least. It is highly unlikely that Arab spectators would soon
forget the spectacular verbal exchange that took place between Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafi and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. The two leaders accused
each other of being American stooges and of allying themselves with Satan.

The nature of these accusations was ironic in the extreme, considering that
the summit was being held below a ceiling set by the Americans. Not a single
resolution came out that had any practical effect in undermining American
policy.

Yet the sniping said a lot about inter-Arab relations. These relations were
exposed as being built on suspicions, wariness, hatreds and conflicting
interests. Those Arabs fortunate enough to live further away from the area
of conflict can afford to flex their muscles, while those living in the
thick of it can do nothing but complain of their predicament.

This being the case, the only purpose of the closing communique would be to
plaster over the substantial differences that exist between Arab states. And
that is what happened. The communique that came out of the Sharm summit said
nothing of substance because it had to play to everyone's predilections.

In a situation like this, it was impossible to arrive at a political
consensus on which similar - much less congruent - policies could be built.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Mohammed Mubarak al-Khalifa summarized the
situation well when he said: "The most important thing is that our
differences should not affect our resolutions." But Khalifa forgot to
mention that in a state of imminent war, policies count rather more than
resolutions.

Arab impotence was highlighted still further by the fact that as Arab
leaders were issuing their final communique, the Turkish Parliament rejected
a government request to allow the US to deploy troops on Turkish soil to
open a second front against Iraq. Turkey, a NATO member which enjoys strong
relations with the United States, and which managed to negotiate an
extremely attractive financial and political deal with the Americans in
exchange for allowing them to deploy their troops on its soil, nevertheless
rejected all these concessions through its lawmakers, who based their
decision on objections from the Turkish military and widespread public
opposition. The Turks might yet reverse their decision, but that will not
alter the fact that their initial rejection showed the Arab summit in a
particularly bad light.

If the public altercation between Gadhafi and Abdullah exposed one
disturbing aspect of inter-Arab relations, the so-called "secret" memo
revealed another.

The UAE delegation circulated a letter from UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin
Sultan al Nahayan to the summit in which he spoke of the dangers facing Iraq
and his concerns for the unity of the country and the welfare of the Iraqi
people. The UAE leader suggested that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein step
down, and that the Arab League - in cooperation with the UN
secretary-general - should assume responsibility for administering the
country during a period of transition.

These ideas were not formally proposed to the summit, but the letter was
circulated widely - leading to a crisis that almost caused the Iraqi
delegation to walk out. Arab mediators swung into action, however, and the
crisis was eventually contained, proving that the Arabs could not but reject
any idea of interference in the internal affairs of any Arab country.

Nevertheless, the "Zayed initiative" came as a surprise for several reasons.
For one, the UAE has long enjoyed good relations with Baghdad, and indeed
was the first Gulf country to reestablish ties with Iraq in the aftermath of
the 1991 Gulf War. Also, it has simply not been the UAE's habit to come up
with ideas that clash so starkly with Arab consensus.

That was why Zayed's initiative came as such a shock. The controversy grew
still further when Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (the president's son) defended
the initiative, accusing other Arab leaders of not having the courage of
their own convictions. Abdullah's position was vindicated when a Gulf
official later praised and expressed support for the UAE initiative without
explaining why he did not do so when the summit was in session.

As with the altercation, the initiative proved how divided the Arab world
has become. Except possibly for Syria and Lebanon, no two Arab countries
expressed common - or even vaguely close - positions during the summit.

Weak Egyptian performance, as well as a general indifference to the plight
of the Palestinians, highlighted the deterioration in smaller Arab regional
groupings - in addition to that of the Arab League itself.

It can therefore be said that the summit was another nail in the coffin of
the Arab order that has prevailed since the Arab League's 1945 founding. It
is obvious a war on Iraq (that has seriously undermined such august
institutions as the UN Security Council, NATO, and the EU) would kill off
the Arab League once and for all. Should that happen, the Arab world would
begin a long period of even more serious decline that would further
undermine inter Arab relations and might even affect the fragile internal
cohesion in a number of Arab states.

Joseph Samaha is the editor in chief of the Beirut daily As-Safir. He wrote
this commentary for The Daily Star


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/07_03_03_f.htm

*  ARABS TRADE INSULTS AS ISRAELIS CASH IN AND TURKS CUT THEIR LOSSES
Lebanon Daily Star, 7th March

The public exchange of insults between Kuwaiti and Iraqi delegates at the
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in Qatar dominates Arab
press coverage of the event, much as the spat between the leaders of Libya
and Saudi Arabia stole the show at the Arab summit four days previously.

Some newspapers, including pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi, highlight Iraqi
charges that the Kuwaitis deliberately set out to "sabotage" the summit -
and undermine the strong statement of opposition to any US attack on Iraq
that the 57 participating countries agreed - by heckling Iraq's Izzat
Ibrahim al-Douri during his speech.

Others, like Saudi Arabia's Asharq al-Awsat, take the Kuwaiti side,
headlining that summit delegates were "shocked" by the abusive tone of
Douri's speech, which provoked the Kuwaitis to intercede.

Egypt's leading semi-official daily Al-Ahram opts to overlook the incident,
devoting its headline to the Islamic summit's "absolute rejection" of war on
Iraq, and President Hosni Mubarak's speech hoping that a peaceful solution
to the crisis can be found.

The paper accompanies this with a front-page report of the "million-strong
march" organized in Cairo by the ruling National Democratic Party, and
billed as an expression of Egyptian public opposition to war on Iraq and
support for Mubarak. "Egypt says 'no to war, yes to peace'," the paper
headlines its account of the anti-war demonstration.

The Beirut daily As-Safir writes that the officially orchestrated character
of the event and the high profile that was accorded at it to Mubarak's
politically up-and-coming son Gamal. The paper quotes analysts as saying the
authorities apparently decided to stage the demonstration under their
auspices "in response" to last week's big unofficial rally in Cairo against
a US invasion of Iraq, which was dominated by the opposition Muslim
Brotherhood.

Al-Ahram's Salama Ahmed Salama suggests in his daily column that the more
assertive anti-war stance the Egyptian government has adopted of late
follows Mubarak's recent trip to France and Germany, which impressed on him
the strength of international opposition to America's designs against Iraq.
Salama explains that it was because of this Cairo abandoned its earlier
opposition to the convocation of an Arab summit on Iraq and sought to
convene an emergency gathering of Arab leaders to shore up the anti-war
camp.

Al-Quds al-Arabi sees Mubarak's "surprise" decision to show up in person at
the OIC summit in Doha as a snub to Saudi Arabia, and payback for its drive
to thwart the emergency Arab summit the Egyptian president had wanted to
host.

The paper's diplomatic sources say that Saudi Arabia opposed the OIC summit
in Qatar and sent only a low-level delegation to the meeting, reflecting the
"virtual breach" in relations between Riyadh and Doha caused by rows over
Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel and "other issues" connected to the two
countries' links with the US.

The Egyptian president - whose relations with the Saudis "have not
recovered" from his boycott of last year's Arab summit in Beirut at which
they grandstanded their Arab-Israeli peace initiative - doesn't usually
attend Islamic summits and had been planning to send Foreign Minister Ahmed
Maher to stand in for him in Doha. By opting to go personally, he registered
his anger at Saudi Arabia's attempt to impede his diplomatic efforts over
Iraq, and also highlighted the continuing tension between the Kingdom and
both Egypt and Qatar, the sources say.

The other big news from Doha is the seeming shelving of the "UAE initiative"
- focus of much controversy at and since the Arab summit at Sharm el-Sheikh
- calling on the Iraqi leadership to stand down in order to spare the
country an American invasion.

Arab newspapers see the UAE's failure to formally raise the proposals at the
OIC summit as a sign that it has quietly dropped them. That, they believe,
was confirmed by the "friendly" bilateral meeting arranged on the sidelines
of the Doha summit between the Iraqi delegation and senior UAE officials led
by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the UAE president's son and chief of Cabinet.

The Saudi-run pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat reports that when its correspondent
asked Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri whether the Iraqi side had used the
meeting to ask the UAE to refrain from putting its initiative forward to the
OIC, he replied: "It wasn't put forward."

Other papers suggest Iran may also be ditching its proposal for a "national
reconciliation" between the Iraqi leadership and opposition followed by a
UN-supervised referendum. Al Hayat highlights reports that Iran Defense
Minister Ali Shamkhani implicitly rebuked Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi
for suggesting the idea at a Cabinet meeting in Tehran. He likened it in
subsequent remarks to "offering a bottle of Coca Cola to a drowning man,"
and also dismissed the UAE initiative as unworkable.

The Arabic-language Iranian paper Al-Vefagh in turn quotes Kharrazi as
saying his suggestion is "an idea and not an initiative," that he doesn't
expect Baghdad to take it up, that Iran has no intention of meddling in
Iraq, and that it "is up to the Iraqi people and opposition to determine
their future themselves."

Al-Hayat writes that Kharrazi has been coming under heavy criticism from
"reformists" who dominate the Iranian Parliament for being "unjustifiably"
friendly to Baghdad.

Despite the purported "withdrawal" of the UAE initiative, the main
semi-official Abu Dhabi daily Al-Ittihad expresses disappointment that the
Islamic summit in Doha failed to grapple with the quest for a "practical"
way of resolving the Iraq crisis peacefully.

It remarks that the gathering was basically a rerun of the Arab summit:
leaders arrived and delivered rousing speeches, before a spat between two
delegations led to an adjournment to enable tempers to cool. Then they
reconvened, and issued a pre-agreed statement lacking in any practical
proposals for dealing with the critical situation.

Al-Ittihad says that while the OIC closing statement categorically opposing
a war and urging Muslim countries not to participate in one was "generally
positive," it remains deficient without "clear practical measures or
specific steps to translate these sentiments into practice."

The Doha summit failed to discuss "any initiative, ideas or proposals for
rescuing the Iraqi people and the peoples of the region from a terrifying
war that threatens to expose this region to disaster," it says. It thus
emulated tens of earlier high-level Arab and Islamic gatherings, "which
issued rousing statements without offering a solution to the most complex
and dangerous issue facing the Arab and Islamic worlds."

A variety of commentators elsewhere in the Arab world continue to argue that
the Arab states should collectively demand President Saddam Hussein's
resignation, and that this is the only way of averting war.

They include Gebran Tueni, editor in chief of the Beirut daily An-Nahar, who
takes issue with the claim that this would amount to unwarranted Arab
interference in Iraqi affairs and set an unacceptable precedent.

The Iraqi people have no say in their country's affairs as it is, he
reasons. As for the "precedent," it was set years ago when Arab states with
US backing demanded that General Michel Aoun give up power to avoid the use
of force against the area of Lebanon controlled by his interim
administration, Tueni says - while hastening to add that he is not likening
Aoun "who drew his power from his people" to Saddam "who draws power from
repressing his people."

Tueni writes that "there can be no real peaceful solution without Saddam
Hussein bowing out," and the UAE initiative is daring. "Only a few Arab
states have openly adopted it, but we know that the majority tacitly support
it."

If Saddam were to go, George W. Bush's US administration would be denied a
pretext to invade Iraq, and the Arabs would have a chance to "salvage the
situation by sending an international or multinational force, with an Arab
component, to Iraq to preserve security for a transitional period, pending
free UN-supervised elections," Tueni says.

This would also foil Israel's plans to use the zapping of Iraq as cover for
its "infernal scheme" aimed at thwarting the emergence of a Palestinian
state and wrecking any prospect of Arab-Israeli peace, he warns.

"What is required of the Arabs today is to go beyond principled opposition
to war on Iraq and rally behind a single plan and proposal to withdraw the
pretext for using force to resolve the crisis," Tueni suggests. "The problem
is Saddam Hussein's regime, and there can be no solution without its
departure. It must either leave peacefully by bowing out, which would be a
miracle, or by military force."

Al-Hayat's Abdelwahhab Badrakhan thinks the idea of calling on Saddam to
relinquish power is a nonstarter - and not only because the Iraqi president
is more used to "sacrificing others to ensure his own survival than
sacrificing himself for others."

He says that although such a move as envisaged in the UAE initiative would
be "noble and brave," the US has been floating the idea as a way of
humiliating the Iraqi leader, and for domestic and eternal propaganda
reasons, rather than as "an alternative solution to war."

Moreover, Badrakhan explains, Saddam's prospective resignation would have to
be part of a "deal" between Washington and Baghdad, and the former sees no
need to horse-trade with the latter, "but seeks its unconditional surrender
without war or guarantees." Accordingly, no third party is capable either of
securing the Iraqi leadership's abdication or providing it with safeguards
for the future.

The Bush administration has had its mind set on invading and occupying Iraq
from the beginning, and has been systematically "slamming the door" on all
alternative options, Badrakhan says. If Saddam quits, the US will occupy
Iraq without war, and if he doesn't it will occupy the country after a
fight. The only "concessions" it has hinted at is that it might give the UN
"a greater or lesser role to play, depending on circumstances" in Iraq once
it has assumed control of the country.

"As for the major powers opposed to war, they doubtless consider the matter
of Iraq to be settled, and are more concerned about the shape of the
international order that emerges from the ruins of war and the doctrines the
US applies to the world in its aftermath," Badrakhan writes. "The Arab world
will be the main testing ground for those doctrines, but it seems utterly
oblivious."

Al-Quds al-Arabi believes the UAE took up the call for the Iraqi leadership
to quit on behalf of the Americans, but dropped it when it appreciated the
strength of Arab and international opposition.

The paper is dismayed at the way the sheer scale of that opposition has been
overshadowed by "regrettable antics" - such as the Libyan-Saudi row at Sharm
el-Sheikh or the Iraqi-Kuwaiti slinging match in Doha.

The anti-war message sent out by the Muslim countries, most of them too weak
to wield any influence over the Americans, was all the more powerful given
the proximity of the Al Udaid air base in Qatar, which is expected to play a
major role in any US attack on Iraq, it says. "But it is a message that will
be missed on a Bush administration that seems indifferent to the
international consensus against its policies, and is prevented by arrogance
and greed from seeing things for what they are."

In Beirut's As-Safir, editor in chief Joseph Samaha contrasts the Arab
regimes' fatalistic attitude to the looming war on Iraq to the way regional
powers Turkey and Israel are positioning themselves to cash in on it. He
writes that an American blitz seems set to spawn at least two other
"regional confrontations," as Israel and Turkey seek to exploit Washington's
takeover of Iraq to crush the "autonomy" of the Palestinians and Kurds
respectively.

"The Arab East will be turned into a firing range, and we could also see an
indirect American-Iranian front in Iraq, as well as an Israeli-Lebanese
front initiated by the (Israeli) far-right government," he warns.

Thus America's "reshaping" of the Middle East will not follow the occupation
of Iraq so much as accompany it, Samaha suggests.

"The two regional powers, Israel and Turkey, despite their conflicting
positions, will try to pull off their interests under American fire" - the
former trying to capitalize on the situation, the latter to cut its losses.
"And Washington will indulge their crossing of amber lights, because their
respective victims, be they the isolated Kurds or the Palestinians who enjoy
the sympathy of their Arab brethren, lack serious clout."

Arab states are meanwhile acting as if there is nothing they can do to
intervene or influence the situation "other than to relinquish their
national sovereignty over military bases, while recycling American dictates
as initiatives stemming from their independent will and their devotion to
the Iraqi people," Samaha remarks.


http://www.jordantimes.com/fri/news/news6.htm

*  BAHRAIN'S FOREIGN MINISTER OFF TO US TO DISCUSS IRAQ CRISIS
Jordan Times, 7th March
    
MANAMA (AP)  Foreign ministers of a newly appointed Arab League committee
have headed to the United States for discussions hoped to find a way to
avert war against Iraq.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Ben Mubarak Al Khalifa, head of
the committee to consult international parties regarding the Iraqi crisis,
left Wednesday for New York accompanied by Arab League Secretary General Amr
Musa, according to the official Bahrain News Agency.

A fractious Arab League summit decided Saturday that Arab diplomats should
shuttle around the world in a last-ditch effort to try to prevent the United
States from attacking Iraq. The high-level delegation also was expected to
visit Baghdad, though it was not clear when that might happen.

The committee, which also includes foreign ministers of Syria, Lebanon,
Tunisia and Egypt, was expected to meet later Thursday with UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan, and hold talks with chief UN inspector Hans Blix and top
nuclear inspector Mohammad Al Baradei. Diplomats said they also may meet
with representatives from UN Security Council member states.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al Sharaa, Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud
Hammoud and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher also had departed for the
United States.

The ministers were to discuss decisions made at the Arab summit in Egypt and
the means of implementing Security Council Resolution 1441, which requires
Iraq to disarm or face "serious consequences." Iraq maintains it already has
rid itself of weapons of mass destruction, a claim rejected by the US and
its ally Britain.


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/08_03_03_f.htm

*  CAN ANYONE STAND IN THE WAY OF THE 'AXIS OF WAR?'
Lebanon Daily Star, 8th March

As the focus of attention in the Iraq drama moved back to the UN Security
Council, many Arab commentators see the diplomatic confrontation there as
the final political showdown before the long-awaited American military
invasion gets the go-ahead.

And they doubt Washington's war plans will be substantially affected either
by the latest findings of the UN arms inspectors, or the outcome of the
tug-of-war over a "second resolution" authorizing or indirectly acquiescing
to the use of force against Iraq.

Raghida Dergham, New York bureau chief and UN correspondent for the
Saudi-run pan Arab daily Al-Hayat, writes that regardless whether the
planned American resolution is blocked or a last-minute agreement is
stitched together between Security Council members, "the moment of military
decision will come next week."

The US administration has decided on war, and only the demise of the Iraqi
leadership can deter it from invading and occupying Iraq, she says.

"By the end of the week, the Arab world will probably have begun a new and
unprecedented era" of uncertainty, with Israel's belligerent occupation of
Arab territories matched by an Anglo-American occupation of Iraq ostensibly
committed to keeping the country whole and overseeing its economic recovery
and democratization.

"America's military supremacy ensures it will win the 'battle,' but its
victory in the 'war' is not guaranteed," she says. "For it is now opening a
new complicated front in its many wars, and its moves are being managed by
extremists who have sought war on Iraq for a variety of reasons, some of
which remain fundamentally elusive."

Dergham remarks that there are already disagreements within President George
W. Bush's administration - and between the Americans and British - over how
an occupied Iraq should be run and what role should be given to the UN in
administering it.

She writes that despite assurances from all parties concerned that they are
committed to Iraq's territorial integrity, the hawks who run US policy on
Iraq and the Middle East could well conclude that Israel's strategic
interests require Iraq to cease to exist as an entity, because of its
potential to put the Jewish state at risk in the long term. They could opt
to neutralize that threat by dismembering the country, after Israel's Arab
neighbors Egypt and Jordan were neutralized "by peaceful means," while they
subject Syria to "anticipated isolation and encirclement."

To make the partition of Iraq possible, it may be deemed necessary for the
"Somali model" to be allowed to take hold there, so that the resultant
anarchy can be invoked as a pretext for partition, Dergham writes. Anarchy
in Iraq could also "be made use of" further afield, as the fragmentation and
dismemberment of other parts of the Arab world would suit various "economic
and oil interests."

On the other hand, if the Americans opt to keep Iraq intact, that would
require military rule, "and military rule in the Arab world has rarely been
terminated quickly and never paved the way for democracy," she remarks.

Dergham writes that while both the Americans and the anti-war camp claim
they are capable of winning the confrontation at the UN Security Council
over the coming few days, "what Washington has decided is that with or
without a new resolution, and regardless whether Hans Blix and Mohammed
al-Baradei's reports are negative or positive, the time for war has come."

Dergham explains that there is talk of the US perhaps giving Saddam Hussein
a three-day ultimatum to disarm or face military action. "But this is by no
means intended to give Iraq an opportunity to comply with inspectors'
demands," she remarks. "It is a way of warning the Iraqi president that it
is his failure to stand down that has brought invasion and occupation to
Iraq, and a message to those in Baghdad who might think of toppling the
regime to inform them too that this is their last chance before the
invasion."

Chief editor Joseph Samaha writes in the Beirut daily As-Safir that if
anything is holding up the planned US invasion for a short time, it is not
the opposition within the Security Council so much as Turkey's failure to
approve the deployment of American forces on its soil.

It is while seeking to overcome that particular hurdle that Washington is
seeing if it can get a war resolution through the Security Council in the
wake of the arms inspectors' latest report, he says.

The four-member "war axis" - composed of the US, Britain, Spain and Bulgaria
- is hoping that the six "waverers" on the Security Council (Guinea,
Cameroon, Angola, Chile, Mexico and Pakistan) will be unable to sustain
their previous opposition to military action. The five-member "peace axis" -
comprising France, Russia, China, Germany and Syria - is meanwhile counting
on the anti-war majority to hold, while threatening to use France and
Russia's vetoes to block a new resolution if the need arises.

But Samaha writes that the Americans' true problem is not the distribution
of votes at the Security Council but the stand taken by Turkey. Although the
US military claim to be ready to invade Iraq now even without using Turkish
territory, it is clear that they are not in a position to open a "northern
front" at present, he explains.

"This may prompt the 'war axis' to wait a while," Samaha suggests. For it
has to synchronize its agenda with that of Turkey, which needs to go through
a number of steps before it can put another resolution authorizing the
deployment of US troops before Parliament. First, Turkey's ruling Justice
and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to be elected
to Parliament at Sunday's by-election. He must then be named prime minister,
reshuffle the Cabinet, obtain another request to approve a US troop
deployment from the National Security Council, and get it discussed and
voted on in Parliament.

Samaha remarks that Turkish MPs are thought likely to vote differently on
the matter next time round. The army has come out openly in favor of
admitting US troops, the economy has been shaken by American threats to
withhold financial aid, Turkey's fears that the Kurdish situation in
northern Iraq could spiral out of control are growing, "and it is no secret
that Ankara would prefer any military containment of Kurdish aspirations to
have American cover," he explains.

It is while waiting for the Turks to deliver, and while pondering the
continued political resistance at the Security Council, that the British
have come up with the idea of an amended resolution that would feature a
final warning, Samaha says. The US had rejected this idea previously, but
could now reconsider it while it works on plugging the hole Turkey made in
its war plans.

"If US forces had been ready to open a northern front, war would begin
within days and Friday's Security Council session would have been merely for
show. But so long as the forces aren't ready, the war axis may as well act
as if it deemed the world body to be relevant."

Rajeh al-Khoury predicts in the Lebanese daily An-Nahar that the Americans
will have no problem getting the Turkish Parliament to do their bidding now
that the military establishment has weighed in on their side.

"The northern front through Turkey will soon be opened, after the army
generals in Ankara opined that unless they take part in a war they will have
no say in its aftermath, and declared that they were opting for bad over
worse," he writes.

Khoury equally expects the Bush administration to succeed in using
carrot-and-stick and bullying tactics to secure a majority in the Security
Council in its favor.

"When George W. Bush telephones the presidents of Cameroon and Pakistan
directly, it is not to chat about the weather," he says. "Given his crude
and bruising style, and his theory that anyone who doesn't support him
supports terrorism, we can imagine what kind of conversation he had with
them to persuade them to support the US position at the Security Council."

George W. is likely to have echoed US Assistant Secretary of State for
Africa Walter Kansteiner, who was sent to Angola, Cameroon and Guinea and
issued a stern warning to the three countries that they would pay a "high
price" if they failed to vote with the US at the Security Council.

As for the "carrots," a foretaste was provided by Thursday's announcement
that the US had purchased Iraq's outstanding $1.8 billion debt to Bulgaria.
This gives an idea of the kind of thing that could be offered to Chile and
Mexico, who in turn may have learned a thing or two from the Turks about
horse-trading with the Bushies, he remarks.

Khoury says that none of this bribing and bullying can alter the fact that
"the entire world" remains opposed to war on Iraq, against which the
Christian churches and Muslims have united. But as the White House's
contemptuous attitude to Pope John Paul's anti-war appeal shows, the Bush
administration considers this overwhelming global opposition to be a mere
"detail."

Arab governments meanwhile continue to come under heavy fire in the media
for their sluggishness over Iraq, despite the rhetorical opposition to war
they reiterated at the Arab summit in Egypt and the Islamic summit in Qatar.

In the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, publisher/editor Abdelbari Atwan
writes that the Arab peoples have stopped viewing Arab and Islamic summits
as serious political events and started treating them as "light
entertainment" - an opportunity to watch Arab leaders making fools of
themselves and exchanging abuse live on TV.

Atwan finds it odd that it is the normally reserved Gulf Arabs who have
acquired a taste for public mudslinging with their rivals, as evidenced by
the way the Saudis turned on the Libyans at the Arab summit and the Kuwaiti
and Iraqi delegates rowed at the Islamic conference. The Iraqis, he remarks,
could be excused for "losing their temper" at the Kuwaitis, given that they
have turned their country into a springboard for a full-scale American
invasion of Iraq in two weeks' time.

But although it may be entertaining, the vulgar behavior and hollow
posturing that has become commonplace at gatherings of Arab leaders speaks
volumes "for the decline our nation is experiencing at every level - moral,
political social and economic," Atwan says.

But Ibrahim Nafie, editor of Egypt's top semi-official daily Al-Ahram,
offers a relatively upbeat assessment of the Arab summit. He credits
President Hosni Mubarak with having skillfully succeeded in brokering a
compromise over Iraq between rival Arab camps, and uniting the Arabs behind
a common anti-war stance.

In the course of his lengthy article on the subject, Nafie tones down the
virulent criticism of the Iraqi regime that has characterized his
commentaries in recent weeks. He comes out explicitly against the
"dangerous" idea of advocating "regime change" in Baghdad by external force,
which he notes some members of the US administration see as the prelude to
"sweeping changes throughout the region." But he goes on to suggest that
Saddam should relinquish power "voluntarily."

Nafie also warns Baghdad that it is not complying adequately with UN
disarmament requirements. He says the Iraqis have undermined their
credibility by planning to account for VX and anthrax stockpiles that they
previously denied having. Such behavior "creates a problem for the camp
calling for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and will bolster the other
camp, which wants the matter settled militarily because it does not trust
the Iraqi regime."

Iraq, he says, must immediately come clean about its weapons programs and
supply all relevant data to the UN forthwith if it wants to avoid war. But
more must be done too. "Ideas that have been proposed for defusing the
crisis and sparing Iraq and its people a US blitz could be developed."

"In this regard, and without getting into a debate about the UAE initiative,
which caused fierce controversy at the summit, other formulas for dealing
with the situation can be considered," he suggest. "It may be important here
to await a major step that the Iraqi regime embarks on voluntarily, on its
own initiative, to prevent Iraq and its people from being exposed to
American military action, and to spare the world a debate about regime
change enforced by external pressure that could set an extremely dangerous
precedent."




_______________________________________________
Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss
To contact the list manager, email casi-discuss-admin@lists.casi.org.uk
All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk


[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]