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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 Š 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk