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[casi] News, 26/03-02/04/03 (10)

News, 26/03-02/04/03 (10)


*  US-Turkey match goes into shoot-out
*  Iraq War Fallout Hurts Turkey's Economy
*  Turks pelt US experts with eggs
*  Turks stone trucks carrying US military equipment
*  Violent protests in Turkey force US to put equipment transport on hold
*  In Search of a Lost Cruise Missile: Three Tomahawk crashes in one week
fuel Turkish paranoia
*  Powell Visits Turkey, Seeks to Patch Rift
*  Turkey agrees to compromise on access for US


*  We are all Iraqis now
*  Arabs demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal
*  Demonstrators call for closing Suez Canal before US reinforcement
*  Arab League chief warns of Iraq war spilling over
*  US command center gets mixed welcome from neighbors in Qatar
*  Shifting sands, shifting alliances


by Mohammad Noureddine
Lebanon Daily Star, 26th March


Turkey has pursued a dual policy since early in the crisis. It had one eye
on peace and the other on war. The Turks were betting that war would not
take place, and they saw avoiding war as a Turkish interest. After suffering
a lot as a result of the 1991 Gulf War, and having spent the last 12 years
building a new status quo in Iraq, the Turks don't want to find themselves
facing a new reality in Iraq that would be detrimental to their unity and
national security.

The Turks were also betting that the US would never go to war against Iraq
without them. This belief was not the exclusive preserve of the government
or the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). According to Defense
Minister Vecdi Gonul, Turkish policy is state rather than party policy. This
is correct, because a cabal - which includes the president, prime minister,
several ministers, the chief of staff, and the head of Turkish intelligence
- takes the final decision on issues relating to Iraq. The situation,
therefore, is totally different to that which prevailed in 1991.

This time, Ankara procrastinated until the last possible moment - even after
Bush delivered his ultimatum. But once Ankara realized there was not to be a
peaceful solution - and after continuous insistence from America - it
decided to resume its attempts to sign a deal with Washington, and present a
new draft bill to Parliament (on March 18). It was at this point that
Washington sprang its big surprise: The Americans decided to abandon the
Turkish deal and go to war without a northern front. Thus did Turkey's
second gamble (that the US would never attack Iraq without Turkish help)
fall by the wayside.

There was a role reversal during the talks between the two countries: Turkey
appeared to be the superpower, while the US seemed to be the smaller
country. This backfired on the Turks big time. Washington cancelled a $30
billion aid package and abandoned the idea of a northern front. Turkey lost
an opportunity to take part in the war and in post-war arrangements. The
Turks miscalculated; they failed to realize that America, in its current
belligerent and arrogant mood - in which it has ignored international law
and decided to attack Iraq with no legal or moral cover - would never allow
a country like Turkey to rebel and weaken its image, however much it needed
its help.

The US has thus gone to war against Iraq through one front only (from the
south). The war will thus take longer and be more costly. The Iraqi Kurds
will have a bigger role to play in military operations. Turkey, meanwhile,
will have to watch from the sidelines. At best, the Turks can do nothing
without the express permission of the enraged Americans.

This new situation has changed the Turkish approach to the Iraq question out
of all recognition. All senior Turkish officials - Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Chief of Staff Hilmi Ozkok
- have said Turkey can never remain outside the Iraq equation. General Ozkok
said the choice before Turkey is not between good and bad, but between bad
and worse. Turkey, he said, must move into northern Iraq.

But now that Washington has canceled the comprehensive deal with Turkey, the
situation in northern Iraq has been blown wide open.

While it is preoccupied with military operations in the south and center,
the US is keen to keep the Kurdish region pacified. That is why Washington
opposes the entry of Turkish troops into northern Iraq; the Americans want
to avoid the nightmare scenario of clashes between the Turkish Army and the
Kurds, especially since the Iraqi Kurds have threatened to do just that.

But can the Americans rely on Kurdish help in the occupation of Mosul and
Kirkuk, especially if American forces became unstuck further south? What
position could Ankara adopt if that were to happen, especially since it had
already announced that it would never allow the Kurds to take Mosul and
Kirkuk with their rich oil fields and Turkmen populations?

Ankara is in a bind; until now, the Turks have appeared to be unable to act
without American approval. Having lost all its cards, Turkey is trying to
demonstrate that it still has strategic value to the Americans. This value
will be put to the test in northern Iraq. Will Turkey pass this test?

Mohammad Noureddine is a Beirut-based expert on Turkish affairs. He wrote
this commentary for The Daily Star

by James C. Helicke
Las Vegas Sun, 28th March

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Fallout from the conflict in Iraq is creating
financial turmoil in Turkey, threatening to undermine the country's economic
recovery and raising the prospect of instability on Iraq's northern border.

Turkish interest rates rose to around 70 percent as the war began, raising
the possibility that if market turmoil grows worse the country could be
forced to default on its massive debt.

To ensure the stability of NATO's only Muslim member President Bush has
asked Congress for a $1 billion grant to help the Turkish markets recover.

The request highlights Turkey's crucial role as a secular, democratic
government in an unstable region where the United States is now at war.

But it is a far cry from the $6 billion carrot that Washington offered
Turkey to allow 62,000 U.S. troops to open a northern front against Iraq, a
request the Turkish parliament voted down.

The war is extremely unpopular in Turkey, with polls showing that up to 94
percent of Turks oppose the fighting.

The $6 billion offer had raised hopes that the economy would emerge from a
two-year-old economic crisis that has claimed some two million jobs.
Instead, its withdrawal shook financial markets.

The Turkish lira dropped to its lowest level ever Monday, at 1,746,000 to
the dollar.

Analysts worry that acrimony on Capitol Hill over Turkey's refusal to grant
the U.S. basing rights might diminish Washington's political and economic

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told a Congressional
subcommittee Thursday that Turkey's decision "was a big, big mistake," but
acknowledged that "Turkey's economy is in difficult circumstances and that
is not good for us."

Without Washington's backing, market turmoil could continue, making it more
difficult for Turkey to maintain year-end growth and inflation targets and
stick to a $16 billion economic recovery program backed by the International
Monetary Fund. Washington's support was key in obtaining IMF loans.

Turkey has its first one-party government in almost 15 years and some
analysts say that market turmoil could destabilize the government.

Then there's the war, which has stoked fears that Iraq could fragment,
leading Iraqi Kurds along the Turkish border to declare a separate state and
serve as an inspiration to Turkish Kurds living on the other side. Turkey
battled Kurdish guerrillas within its own borders for 15 years, a fight that
left 37,000 dead.

Turkey has said it would send forces into northern Iraq to prevent a refugee
crisis or to stop Iraqi Kurds from trying to carve out their own state.

But the United States is keen to keep Turkey out of the war. Turkey backed
off somewhat, earlier this week, saying that it will only intervene if there
is a refugee crisis or if its security were threatened.

That announcement and news of U.S. aid have encouraged Turkish markets,
which rose, and interest rates fell to around 65 percent.

"We're not in a red alert for Turkey's debt rollover yet," said Hakan Avci,
strategy analyst at Global Securities in Istanbul.

Turkey has more than $150 billion in total debt, almost evenly divided
between foreign and domestic creditors.

Still, analysts caution Bush's aid package requires approval from the U.S.
Congress, where sentiment against Turkey has been running high because of
its handling of the U.S. basing requests.

Dawn, 30th March

ANKARA, March 29, AFP: Villagers in southeastern Turkey on Saturday pelted a
team of US experts with eggs and stones when they turned up to investigate
the crash of a cruise missile, fired at Iraq , but which landed in Turkey,
the Anatolia news agency reported.

The missile, which crashed half a kilometer (a quarter of a mile) from the
small village of Buyukmurdes in the province of Sanliurfa on Friday, was the
third US cruise missile to malfunction and fall in the region in less than a

Angry villagers broke several windows of the four vehicles carrying the
experts and chanted anti-war slogans before Turkish paramilitary gendarmerie
troops stepped in, the agency said.

The Sanliurfa region, which lies along the border with Syria and some 300
kilometres away from the border with Iraq, is mainly populated by Arabs, but
also has Turkish and Kurdish communities.

Two soldiers were put on duty in front of every house in Buyukmurdes to
prevent further incidents until the experts collected the pieces of the
missile which landed in a grain field.

The US team gave the owner of the field 2,000 dollars in compensation for
the damage, Anatolia said.

US officials have also paid out 3,600 dollars in compensation to five
farmers for the two Tomahawk cruise missiles which accidentally crashed into
the Sanliurfa region on March 23.

One of the missiles landed near the small village of Ozveren, and the second
crashed some 200 kilometers away.

"The Americans gave me and two others 1,000 dollars each, and 300 dollars
each to two others," the head of the Ozveren village told the Anatolia news

"Our damage was actually much more, but we accepted the amount not to let
this business drag on," he added.


ANKARA, March 30 (AFP) - A group of people in southeastern Turkey on Sunday
showered trailer trucks carrying US military equipment with stones, breaking
the windows of two vehicles, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The stoning took place just as the convoy of 37 trailer trucks and four vans
were coming into Sanliurfa, a mainly Arab-populated province lying along the
border with Syria.

The drivers immediately called security forces, but the protestors had
already fled the scene by the time they arrived, the agency said.

It was not immediately clear who the protestors were.

The windows of two trucks were broken, while the hoods of some trucks also
got hit during the incident, Anatolia said.

Security measures were beefed up along the route the convoy will take, it

The trucks were carrying the US equipment out of Mardin province -- on the
border with Syria -- towards the west, the report said.

Mardin was to be a logistical support centre if Turkey had allowed the
United States to use its territory as a launching pad for attacks against

Sunday's protest comes a day after residents of a small village in Sanliurfa
pelted a team of US experts with eggs and stones when they turned up to
investigate the crash of a cruise missile, which was accidentally dropped in

Turkish public opinion is firmly opposed to the US-led war in neighbouring

In the face of anti-war protests, the Turkish parliament rebuffed earlier
this month a US request to deploy 62,000 US soldiers in Turkey to invade
Iraq from the north, but later opened the country's airpsace to US warplanes
after coming under heavy pressure from Washington.


DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, March 31 (AFP) - The United States has suspended the
transportation of military equipment through southeastern Turkey because of
security concerns after villagers threw stones and eggs at US personnel over
the weekend, US and Turkish officials said.

The departure of several trailer trucks from the province of Mardin to the
Incirlik air base in the west was suspended until Tuesday to allow Turkish
authorities to take additional security measures along the road.

The US has started withdrawing tons of equipment from Mardin, where they had
planned to establish a logistical base to support troops that were due to
invade Iraq from the north.

Villagers in the neighboring province of Sanliurfa showered a convoy
carrying US equipment with stones, breaking the windows of two vehicles, on

US military experts investigating the accidental crash of a US cruise
missile in the same region were also pelted with stones and eggs a day

The Turkish authorities have promised to deploy security forces in and
around settlements along the route of the US convoys to ensure their safe
passage, a Turkish source said.

The Turkish parliament on March 1 voted against the deployment of US ground
troops in Turkey.

Turkish public opinion is firmly opposed to the US-led war in neighbouring

by Andrew Purvis/Buyukmerdesi, Turkey
Time, 1st April

A Tomahawk cruise missile is not easy to lose. The very reason the U.S.
military is willing to spend $750,000 a piece on the precision-guided
munitions is precisely that they go exactly where they?re told. But in the
past week, three U.S. Tomahawks have gone missing in the rocky plains of
southeastern Turkey en route to Iraq, several hundred miles from the war
zone. Five more went astray in Saudi Arabia, and a handful of others have
broken up in Iran and, reportedly, Syria.

Last week Time set out to find the latest arrival. It had roared out of the
sky the previous night, and we had been told about it by a local primary
school teacher, who lived upstairs from a policeman. He telephoned a friend
in the southeastern capital of Diyarbakir with the news, and three hours
later, we were driving along a raised dirt road between green fields and
barren volcanic outcrops not far from the Syrian border.

Kurdish women in headscarves and heavy layered clothing emerged from mud
huts when they saw our taxi approaching. They pointed into the distance to
show where they had heard a strange object had fallen from the sky. One, her
a sequined nightgown glinting in the sun, indicated a place just beyond a
sandy hillock a few miles distant; another said it was closer to the water
tower. By the time we reached the site, we were not the first to arrive.

A small crowd of farmers in khalifas, curious children, and Turkish soldiers
had gathered around four car-sized chunks of green-and-white metal. The
missile had crashed to the earth and broken up about 100 yards short of the
tiny village of Buyukmerdesi.

Turkish soldiers combed the fields for debris and warned us to stay away
from the unexploded warhead . It was, they said, "very dangerous." We could
see the letters "USA" painted on the missile tip. "Oosah," a young girl in a
green headscarf sounded them out. "Oosah." The villagers were worried. "They
are coming from the left, they are coming from the right. They are attacking
us!" said Mahmut Kaya, a farmer who was woken from a deep sleep by the
deafening roar. He fingered his prayer beads.

A Pentagon spokesman says such miscues are rare. More than 700 Tomahawk Land
Attack Cruise Missiles (T-LAMs) have been launched at Iraq from ships in the
Red and Mediterranean Seas and the Persian Gulf, and only a handful have
gone off course, he said. "No weapons systems is foolproof." Maj. Gen.
Stanley McChrystal, vice director for Operations for the U.S. military's
Joint Staff, was asked about the missing warheads at a Pentagon briefing.
"They don't explode," he said. "The warheads do not explode."

Turkey and Saudi Arabia, nevertheless, have lodged formal complaints with
the Pentagon, which has agreed to suspend launchings over the most populated
areas. The problem is, barren southeastern Turkey is about as unpopulated an
area as you get in this part of the world. There, in villages like
Buyukmerdesi (pop.200), farmers are developing a different view of things.

Pausing from their work in the waning light, farmers spoke quietly of
American intentions. "How could it be a mistake?" said one. "Three missiles
in five days? Bush wants to hit all the Muslim areas." Others questioned why
Israel had not been hit. "They will start here and then go to Istanbul."

Many Turks are convinced that Washington is deliberately singling out their
country for reprisals because of its refusal to grant permission for U.S.
troops to invade Iraq from Turkish soil. "Hopefully Saddam will destroy Bush
and he will go back to the USA " said Abit, 36. Such anger is the exception.
Turks are not reflexively anti-American and radical Islam has been kept at
bay by an authoritarian secular government. But when a small team of U.S.
military analysts arrived to inspect the fallen missile parts a day after we
left, they were pelted with eggs and rocks. Turkish police called to the
scene quickly cleared the protestors away. The good news is that unlike in
Iraq no one has yet been killed.

by Louis Meixler
Yahoo, 1st April

ANKARA, Turkey, AP: In a move highlighting the rift between Washington and
Ankara, the United States is withdrawing warplanes from a Turkish air base
and is sending them to the Persian Gulf for the war, U.S. officials said

Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) is to meet with Turkish
officials Wednesday in an effort to repair the fractured relationship, which
has left Washington alienated from NATO (news - web sites)'s only Muslim
member at a time when the United States is desperate for support in the
Muslim world.

Some U.S. officials are questioning the usefulness of Turkey as an ally,
pointing to the country's refusal to allow in U.S. ground troops to open a
northern front against Iraq (news - web sites), a strategy that both sides
agreed would lead to a shorter, less bloody war.

Washington began pulling some 50 warplanes out of Incirlik air base in
southern Turkey after it became clear that Turkey would not allow them to be
used in an Iraq war. The planes had patrolled northern Iraq since after the
1991 Gulf War (news - web sites).

"The U.S.-Turkish strategic partnership ... has been severely damaged and it
needs repair," said Sami Kohen, a columnist for the Milliyet newspaper.

The withdrawal of the warplanes  F-15s, F-16s, EA-6Bs and AWACs radar
aircraft  had been widely expected after Turkey said the base could not be
used in a war.

The withdrawals began last week and are expected to continue until later
this week, Maj. Bob Thompson, a spokesman at Incirlik, said Tuesday. He
would not be more specific for security reasons. Thompson said some of the
aircraft would be moved to the Persian Gulf, while others would be sent to
their home bases.

The 1,400 U.S. personnel who worked on the Iraq patrols will be withdrawn
from the base. A similar number will remain; they are part of a permanent
deployment that dates to the Cold War and whose work now includes logistics
for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan (news - web sites).


The Scotsman, 2nd April

TURKEY agreed to allow the United States to send food, fuel and medicine
through its territory to US soldiers fighting in Iraq, following meetings
between the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and Turkish leaders.

However, Turkey will continue to refuse permission to allow the Pentagon to
move weapons through the country. The two sides also agreed to set up an
"early warning" system to avert friction between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds.

That agreement is designed to block Turkey from sending its forces into
northern Iraq, where Washington fears that Turkey and Iraqi Kurds could end
up clashing, potentially undermining the US war effort.

Mr Powell's visit came amid tensions between Washington and Turkey, where
polls show that more than 90 per cent of the people are against the Iraq

About 500 protesters gathered outside the office of the prime minister,
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while Mr Powell was inside, chanting "Yankee, go


A Turkish official said that Turkey would allow food, fuel, medicine and
other supplies into Iraq for US forces. The official, who spoke on condition
of anonymity, would not say when shipments would begin.

Mr Erdogan, when asked if the Turkish support would include the transit of
guns and ammunition, said: "No. No," the Anatolia news agency reported.

Mr Gul said that Turkey would allow planes carrying wounded to land in
Turkey. There are reports that US aircraft that are low on fuel have been
allowed to land at the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

"We have mutually agreed that food, fuel and other humanitarian assistance
will continue through Turkey," Mr Gul said at a press conference with Mr

THE ARAB WORLD WAITS IT TURN,3604,922612,00.html

by Hani Shukrallah
The Guardian, 27th March

My little niece received a baptism of fire of sorts last Friday: her first
police beating. Well, not so little perhaps; she's nearly 18 and has just
graduated from high school. Thankfully, the beating was not too harsh.
Salma, along with her friends (none of whom had seemed to me very political
before) had been out on the streets, with tens of thousands of others,
finally able to express a popular outrage so bitter and profound that the
nation had almost visibly been choking on it for the past two years - since
the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada. To be absolutely precise, since
the televised and brutal murder of 11-year-old Mohamed Al-Durrah, as he was
cowering behind his father's back.

A wave of demonstrations by university students had erupted then. Another,
stronger wave erupted yet again during April of last year, as Sharon sent
his troops wreaking death and destruction throughout the Palestinian
territories. Yet, by the time Bush, Blair and their assorted aides were
beating the drums of war against Iraq, the "Egyptian street" seemed to have
sunk back into its decades-long stupor. The anger and outrage were palpable,
but in a country with no political parties worthy of the name; with no
independent trade unions or social movements of any sort, there seemed no
way for it to go - only to simmer and simmer. The ideal recipe for producing
suicide bombers.

Then came February 15, 2003. More than 30 million people, from Los Angeles
to Tokyo, were out on the streets protesting against the war on Iraq. One
million people demonstrated in London, three million in Rome; it was a day
the like of which the world had never seen. In the Arab world there was
almost silence. Even the governments were embarrassed. After all, in their
desperate appeals to their White House patron and his over-zealous adviser
at 10 Downing Street to "lighten up" on the Arabs, the Arab governments'
major bargaining card (indeed, their only card) has been their feebleness.

"A military attack on Iraq would push the region into an abyss of chaos -
instability and terror would rule the day," they protested repeatedly. Yet,
so successful had they been in depoliticising their citizens, so complete
seemed the disenfranchisement of the Arab peoples, that the Masters of the
Universe called the regimes' bluff. They held the Arab masses in the same
contempt that their rulers held them in.

Robert Fisk, in the Independent, put it brutally. "One million people
demonstrate in London, while the Arabs, faced with disaster, are like mice."
Even before it appeared in translation in one of the opposition newspapers,
Fisk's article was picked up on with almost masochistic relish; being
forwarded by email, in the original English and in various ad-hoc
translations - testimony perhaps to the profound effect the day had on
popular consciousness in Egypt and in the rest of the Arab world. Not only
was the perceived confrontation between Arabs and Muslims on one hand and a
monolithic west on the other proved absurd, but western Christians and
atheists were defending an Arab cause much better than the Arabs themselves
could hope to do.

On Thursday, day one of the invasion, thousands of protesters collected in
Tahrir Square, in Cairo. "It's like Hyde Park," was the common refrain,
expressed in exhilarated tones. The anti-riot police, while very much in
evidence, had stayed its hand, letting demonstrators be as they peacefully
occupied the square until the evening, chanting slogans, making speeches,
painting political graffiti on the ground and staging street theatre. On
Friday, the beatings began, and continued. The government's message was loud
and clear: "You've had your one day. No more."

The anger and outrage fester, yet, alongside them, a new mood, something
very like euphoria, has also been growing, almost grudgingly ("dare we
hope"); the Iraqis, devastated by wars and crippling sanctions, have been
offering what appears to be stiff resistance to the invading force of the
most powerful and deadly military machine in history. "Where is this shock
and awe," people ask one another at newsagents, on public transport and in
coffee houses, the latter providing the majority of Egyptians with communal
access to al Jazeera and other satellite TV news channels, which carry the
latest news of the fighting in Um Qasr, Nassiriya and Basra. (Few seem to
have been tuning in to Egyptian TV during the past week). The buzz about it
is incessant and inescapable - it is everywhere.

"Now they're talking about the Geneva Conventions, what about Guantanamo?"
sneered my newsagent. A friend, a veteran of the 70s left-wing student
movement, was similarly reminded of Guantanamo, if in more emphatic terms.
The televised footage of the obviously scared and bewildered American PoWs,
had left my friend upset. She whispered something to that effect, only to be
upbraided by her teenage daughter, who - rather - was absolutely thrilled by
evidence that the Iraqis had indeed taken a number of the invasion soldiers

The Americans are talking like Arabs and the Arabs are talking like
Americans," laughingly commented an elderly man, probably a retired civil
servant at an Alexandria coffee house. I'd been in the coastal city on
business and had stopped for a spot of tea and Jazeera. His meaning was
immediately clear to the other patrons who laughed in appreciation.
Egyptians are naturally sceptical about the statements of their own
officials, and by extension those of other Arab states. But as the days of
invasion rolled, they were becoming increasingly struck by the rhetorical
tone and prevarication of the statements of coalition military and civil
officials, in contrast to the almost calm detachement and precision of the
statements of the Iraqis, particularly their information minister, Mohammed
Saeed al-Sahaf. Saddam had not been killed in the "window of opportunity"
bombing of Baghdad that opened the war. Neither did Umm Qasr fall on day one
of the invasion, as coalition statements had claimed, but was still fighting
valiantly into day 6. "It's a very small town, you know?"; "Do you realise
that Umm Qasr is just across from the Kuwaiti border," such were the
comments that people were exchanging incessantly as the fighting in the port
town kept going on, and on - the admiration mixed with wonder.

Perhaps the most enthusiastically greeted piece of news has been the
shooting down of an American attack helicopter south of Baghdad. "Did you
see the old man who downed the Apache helicopter?" I've been continually
asked, the rhetorical question uttered always in tones of glowing pride.
Very few, if any, are under any illusion that Iraq could win the war, though
many will dutifully mumble "may God grant us victory", as they discuss the
latest reports of Iraqi resistance. All are outraged and grief-stricken at
the death and destruction being wreaked on the Iraqi people, and most people
realise that much more lies ahead. Yet none can help but feel a certain
pride, a sense of dignity restored. We are not, after all, mice.

How far back does one trace the sense of humiliation and deeply injured
dignity at western hands that has been such a formative element of Arab
awareness and self-image for decades? Do we need to go as far back as the
1917 Balfour Declaration, or as recently as the 1948 war, the dispossession
of the Palestinians and the resounding and humiliating defeat of the
combined armies of the Arab world.

The 1948 war would be carved in common Arab memory as Al-Nakba, the
Catastrophe. And then there was the Six-Day war, the resounding defeat of
Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June 1967 at Israel's hand, resulting in the
occupation of Sinai, the Golan Heights and all that remained of the historic
land of Palestine. The sense of humiliation born out of June 1967 was
perhaps the most shattering of all in proportion to the immense hopes of
emancipation and restored national dignity that the wave of pan-Arab
nationalism, led and symbolised by Nasser's leadership, had come to trigger.
It was so profound that the Lebanese philosopher and political writer George
Tarabishi, some 10 years ago, authored a large work in which he used
psychoanalytical concepts to analyse the effects of the June war on the Arab
psyche in terms of trauma leading to neurosis.

The humiliations have been piled one on top of the other ever since. The
October war of 1973 offered a very temporary relief. The Egyptian President
Anwar Sadat, in one and the same breath, proclaimed Arab victory and,
asserting that America had entered the battle alongside Israel and
declaring: I cannot fight America, he accepted the UN call for a ceasefire.
Egypt got back the Sinai, eventually.

The interplay of a resigned and defeatist realism and a deep and
increasingly intense sense of humiliation has been a defining feature of
Egyptian and Arab awareness ever since. Egyptians, for the most part, seemed
resigned to it, their resignation interrupted by moments of rude awakening,
such as the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the first intifada and the 1991 Gulf
war. Even then, with Egypt part of the US-led coalition against Iraq, people
on Egyptian streets were proudly discussing the latest news (soon enough
proven to be myth) of this or that "secret weapon" in Saddam's possession.
And then came the second intifada, the collapse of the peace process, the
ongoing destruction of Palestinian life, 9/11, and the "war against terror".
It had all become too much to bear.

Injured dignity lies at the heart of all rebellions. Throughout history
human beings have revealed an enormous capacity to bear, and cope with the
harshest forms of oppression and exploitation. It is only when they perceive
these as "injustice", however; when the implicit or explicit compact between
oppressor and oppressed appears to have been shattered and violated by the
oppressors; when the exercise of power appears lawless and arbitrary - it is
then that people rise up.

Yet for the Arabs, as galling and bitter as the sense of injured dignity has
been and continues to be, it has also been disabling, creating a situation
and mindset in which their choices seemed to be limited to either suicidal
vengeance or abject and bitter hopelessness. It remains to be seen whether
the war in Iraq will put the Arab masses on a new trajectory, one in which
they fight to win, rather than just to die while maintaining some sense of
their basic human dignity. But whatever the course of the war in the coming
days or weeks, for the moment the Arab masses have two things going for
them: They are not mice, and they are not alone.

Hani Shukrallah is managing editor of the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Weekly

Middle East Times, from AFP, 28th March

Key Western allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia conferred after Arab foreign
ministers demanded the "immediate and unconditional withdrawal" of British
and US troops from Iraq, effectively disregarding Syria's push for an active
condemnation of "the aggression that poses a threat to international peace
and security".

Officials, however, gave no details of the talks between Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal.

Both governments had come under immense US pressure to focus Monday's Arab
League meeting on the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, rather than the
US-led invasion.

The Arab world has been bitterly split over the war, with the Gulf hosts of
coalition troops facing strong opposition both from states and domestic
public opinion.

Meanwhile, Baghdad told Arab leaders they were not doing enough to halt the
invasion of Iraq, urging them to stop oil exports and to block the use of
their airspace and territorial waters by US and British forces.

Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said a condemnation of the US-led war
against Iraq by Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo was meaningless and
that concrete action was needed from the Arab world to halt the war.

"Why don't they suspend oil exports to the states who are launching
aggression against us?" Ramadan said.

"Why don't they close the embassies of the states who are committing
aggression against Iraq?

"Why don't they block their waterways to American and British vessels and
why don't they close their airspace to American and British warplanes and
missiles?" he said.

Arab foreign ministers met in Cairo and, as expected, condemned US
aggression on Iraq and called on coalition forces to cease their strikes and
pull out.

"We call on all forces to withdraw from Iraq and put an end to this attack,"
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said.

But, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al Thani left
the talks early, saying that he didn't really see what the meeting could

Haaveru Daily (Maldives), 30th March

Egyptian demonstrators called on their government Sunday to support Iraq by
not allowing the US and British navies to send reinforcements through the
Suez Canal, police and witnesses said.

The demonstration, held in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, came as
three more US warships passed through the canal Sunday on their way to the
Gulf, said harbour officials in Port Said, on the northern end of the

The vessels were identified as the USS Anzio, a guided missile cruiser, the
Cape St George, a guided missile destroyer, and the USS Mitscher, an
advanced Aegis-type destroyer.

Four US warships and two attack submarines on Saturday passed through the
canal into the Mediterranean, where a naval task force is deployed and
engaged in launching air strikes on Iraq.

International treaties require Egypt to allow vessels from all nationalities
to pass through the canal, with the possible exception of those belonging to
a country directly at war with Egypt.

Thousands of students rallied Sunday on the campus of the University of
Alexandria, burning US and British flags and carrying banners demanding that
the "Suez canal be shut before the US, British aggression."

They called on the authorities "to open the gates of Jihad," or holy war,
and marched behind a mock coffin on which they wrote "the conscience of Arab
leaders," a way to denounce Arab regimes' failure to oppose or prevent the

Several demonstrators were dressed in black with the mention
"istish-hadiyyun", meaning suicide attackers, in tribute to the Iraqi who
blew up himself Saturday in southern Iraq, killing four US soldiers.

Emergency laws in force almost non-stop since 1967 in Egypt ban public
protests and authorities only tolerate them on university campuses, in
stadiums and in mosque compounds.

Friday, the government made an exception by allowing a demonstration to
march in the streets of Cairo after the weekly Muslim prayer, in an effort
to contain the mounting anger of the population.

Haaveru Daily (Maldives), 1st April

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa expressed concern here Monday that
the Iraq war could spill over and destabilise the entire Middle East.

"The day Baghdad falls, is the beginning of the real war... with a lot of
violence and confrontation," Mussa said in an interview on Greek state
television estimating that extremist groups will find fertile ground
throughout the region.

"They (the United States and Britain) have miscalculated... they are going
to let the genie out of the jar," he said, adding that the war against Iraq
will be long.

"The perception we see on television every day with Baghdad being hit around
the clock is hard for any Arab to swallow," Mussa explained after meeting
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country holds the EU

But Mussa also said the Arab League has no concrete plans to back Syria,
accused by the United States of supporting terrorist groups and Saddam
Hussein. Mussa said the case was already covered by the Arab league's
existing anti-war resolutions.

"We are consulting. We cannot talk about a certain, concrete initiative at
this moment. The position of the Arab League was very clear against war in
Iraq. It will be the same in case there is any attack against any Arab



AS-SALIYAH, Qatar, April 1 (AFP) - Once no more than a tiny town in a tiny
country, As Saliyah has suddenly been thrust into the world spotlight to the
mixed reaction of locals, who seem to care more about the noise than the US
military coordinating the Iraq war from here.

This patch of scrub desert 15 kilometers (10 miles) outside Qatar's capital
Doha has only 1,500 residents, close to the number of military personnel who
have come here as part of the US Central Command.

"The base is relatively far from the residential area, and we don't see
them," said Ali Jaber al-Merri.

But his son, with him at the local mosque, said the worst part was the
constant landings, takeoff and overflights of warplanes -- particularly at
night, when many of the attacks on Iraq take place.

The war plane issue has become an issue in local politics.

Abdullah Ahmed al-Zyara, campaigning in the As-Saliyah constituency for
April 7 municipal elections, said: "The residents I've been talking to are
complaining about the noise of the planes."

"My campaign platform includes the issue of environmental protection,
because noise is a form of pollution," he said.

But Hamad bin Nura al-Merri, a member of the outgoing municipal council, has
come to the opposite conclusion.

"No one is complaining about it," he said. As-Saliyah residents "have gotten
used to military maneuvers, which have traditionally taken place in the

Some of the noises are more disturbing than others. Mohammed al-Merri, 25,
recalled the explosion near the base on March 23.

No one was hurt in the blast, which Qatari authorities said was triggered by
gas in the tank of a car being crushed at a demolition site a little more
than a kilometer (three-quarters of a mile) away.

But the mere presence of the US military behemoth here is enough to keep
many Qataris at a distance.

While As-Saliyah has become the venue for daily briefings by Central Command
carried live by television networks the world over, more immediate neighbors
are staying away.

"My business has fallen by 70 percent," complained Ali Masood al-Hababi, a
car salesman at As-Saliyah.

"My debts are growing and I don't have enough to pay the salaries of my
employees," he said.

Qatar, a small kingdom grown wealthy on oil and gas revenues, is considered
one of the most pragmatic players in the Middle East.

While Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani gave the United States a key
venue for the war on Iraq, Qatar also hosts Al-Jazeera television, the
all-news Arabic channel that has irritated Washington by its attention to
Iraqi casualties and footage of US war dead.

Thousands of other US troops are based elsewhere in Qatar at the Al-Udeid
air base.

For their own interests, many residents of As-Saliyah just hope the war is

"I didn't get paid for months because customers have hesitated to come here
since they started talking about installing an American base" last year,
said Saleh Abu Futuh, an Egyptian employee at Hababi's car dealership.

"I hope that this war doesn't last for long."

by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 2nd April

AMMAN - Washington insists it is trying to win the support of the Shi'ites
in southern Iraq. At the same time, it has warned largely Shi'ite Syria and
predominantly Shi'ite Iran not to interfere in its invasion of Iraq.
Understandably then, either from a religious or a geopolitical point of
view, Shi'ites don't trust America's motives in Iraq.

The populations of Arab Syria and Persian Iran are widely in solidarity with
the Iraqi people - while at the same time their governments appear to be
doing little about the American presence on their doorstep. Iraq's deputy
prime minister, the multifaceted Chaldean Christian Tariq Aziz, has sent his
own message to Iran: "You're next; you'd better prepare." US Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has already threatened Syria and Iran on the
record. Israel is weighing in: "Iran is handling many terrorist
organizations," says former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. Peres is
suggesting "economic sanctions and no forgiveness" towards Iran. For Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Iran is next in line in the neoconservative's
domino theory of "democracy by bombing" in the Middle East. And Syria will
be caught in the crossfire.

The Bush administration's hawks were counting on having Iran on its war side
- sort of. But once again this is a very complex situation where there's no
simple "you're with us or against us". The Iraqi National Congress (INC),
led by Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle's very good and unctuous
friend Ahmed Chalabi, is Washington's pet Iraqi opposition group. The INC is
a big player in the six-member interim council that is supposed to make
recommendations to the Americans in the immediate post-Saddam Hussein era
(they have already been excluded outright from government by Washington).

Apart from Chalabi's INC, the other five components of the interim council
are: Masoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP); Jalal Talabani's
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK); the Iraqi National Accord (INA) - which
to Washington's horror might be joined by a cluster of Saddam's militias; a
stillborn party led by former Iraqi foreign minister Adnan Pachachi; and the
crucial Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the
powerful Shi'ite group based in Tehran.

The pro-American INC has good relations with the SCIRI - which is very close
to many key branches of Iranian intelligence. Chalabi until recently lived
in a lavish mansion in Tehran paid for by the State Department. For months,
Chalabi tirelessly repeated that Iran would support the US with weapons and
soldiers in the event of an invasion of Iraq. Once again, Chalabi has been
discredited. Last week, Chalabi's good friend Rumsfeld starkly warned
Iranian groups that there would be serious consequences if they interfered
with America's war, and also accused Syria of sending military equipment to
Saddam's regime. An intelligence source tells Asia Times Online that this
was a Pentagon reaction to the fact that the "active neutrality" policy
towards the war by the Iranian hardline leadership close to Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei is in fact a green light for Shi'ite groups not to collaborate with
the coalition forces. A key example concerns the Da'wa Party. This party -
as well as the Action Party and a collection of Shi'ite tribes - are key
components of the Iraqi Shi'ite opposition in exile. Da'wa has been a fierce
enemy of Saddam's regime for two decades: their hatred of the regime
increased exponentially after the brutal suppression of the Shi'ite uprising
of early 1991. But this does not mean that Da'wa would automatically align
with America. During the 2002 buildup towards war, the Bush administration
included Da'wa in the opposition basket that would have a say in post-Saddam
Iraq. But now, according to intelligence sources, Da'wa in fact is
supporting Saddam's regime.

Every day, more and more Arabs commit to fight for Iraq - which historically
has been the eastern flank of the whole Arab nation. At the Iraqi embassy in
Amman, hundreds of Iraqis daily seek permits to return to their homeland to
fight the "foreign aggression". And each day at the Iraqi embassy in Beirut,
dozens of Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians and Palestinians also apply for Iraqi
visas for the same purpose.

A Lebanese source tells Asia Times Online that these volunteers are usually
males between the ages of 25 to 50, married with children, Sunni and Shi'ite
alike. Some say that to go to Baghdad now is like performing the hajj - the
pilgrimage to Mecca. Some are very poor. Some sport long beards. But some
come from the Lebanese middle class. An Iraqi visa usually costs US$58. Now
it's free. The embassy takes care of their nine-hour bus journey from Beirut
to Baghdad. Since the beginning of the war, at least five buses with a total
of 250 people have crossed the Lebanese-Syrian border, and then the
Syrian-Iraqi border. The latter border is a totally artificial divide.
Bedouins living on both sides of it share the same outlook.

Jordan has closed its own border with Iraq to anybody from the Arab world
wanting to cross and engage in "martyrdom operations". But the border
remained open for the more than 6,000 Iraqi exiles who have already returned

Tariq Aziz's comments once again are revealing. He said that Jordan's
position is "beyond mysterious". Saddam's regime has accused Jordan of
blocking shipments of food and medicine to Baghdad. Jordan vehemently denies
it. Saddam's regime accuses Jordan of collaborating with the US. Everybody
in Amman knows that America has used Jordan as a base for Special Forces
operations inside Iraq - although Jordanian ministers and even King Abdullah
himself have taken extraordinary pains to stress that the American mission
is only to defend Jordan against Iraqi missile attacks.

The American military base at Safawi, eastern Jordan, is off limits to the
media. The Jordanian government has muzzled opposition to the war and has
practically sealed off the ultra-explosive southern city of Ma'an. A plot
has just been foiled concerning a bomb - allegedly planted by Iraqi agents -
at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Amman, which is generally packed with American
military, diplomats and journalists.

Americans are patrolling western Iraq. They have established checkpoints on
the highway from the border to Baghdad. According to human shields recently
arrived from Baghdad, the Americans have even bombed a hospital in Rutbah -
killing and wounding civilians. They have used the captured H2 and H3
airfields in western Iraq - the military push came from Jordan - to
parachute soldiers into Iraqi Kurdistan.

The US may be helped by the Kurdish Peshmergas in northern Iraq, but now it
can count on definitely no help from any Arabs - or any Persians. And even
the Kurds and the Turks are weary of the American agenda. The PUK, for
example, has an influential office in Damascus, and it works closely with
Syrian intelligence. A Lebanese source confirms that Syria has sent its
number one man in Lebanon, Major General Ghazi Kanaan, to Turkey to share
intelligence and to organize a three-way Syria-Turkey-Iran summit to discuss
what happens on their borders in the events that the Kurds start
entertaining independence ideas.

According to one of the latest reports from GRU - Russian intelligence -
America would be inclined to accept a war lasting a maximum of three months,
with no more than 1,000 American casualties. Otherwise, states GRU, a
serious political crisis will engulf the US and the world. The Arab world
remains more divided than ever.

Kuwait - a de facto American base - is on the receiving end of Iraqi
missiles. The United Arab Emirates is just waiting for big business in
post-Saddam reconstruction contracts. Qatar hosts the Central Command. Saudi
Arabia still hopes that Saddam will just go - into exile. Egypt cannot but
let American ships pass through the Suez canal, while Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak, however, has warn of the emergence of "a hundred Bin Ladens".
Jordan sits on a perilous fence. And Syria - along with Persian Iran - will
do what it takes not to help an American occupation of Iraq.

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