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[casi] To Many Arabs, the U.S. and U.N. Are One Entity

--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
From: "Montreal Muslim News"
Subject: To Many Arabs, the U.S. and U.N. Are One Entity
Date: 21 Aug 2003 11:56:10 -0000

To Many Arabs, the U.S. and U.N. Are One Entity

The invasion of Iraq put the world body in danger by rendering it
irrelevant, some argue. 'Didn't they see it coming?' asks one.

By Megan K. Stack

Los Angeles Times - 21 August 2003

AMMAN, Jordan-- The silence said the most: Aside from a chorus of
official sympathy and condemnations, the devastation of the U.N.
headquarters in Baghdad drew barely a shiver on the Arab street and in
the Middle Eastern media Wednesday.

In a shift made blazingly clear with the bombing, the United Nations'
status has become so thoroughly degraded in the Arab world that many
people here no longer draw a distinction between the international body
and the United States. It has long been criticized as puny and has
traditionally been mistrusted in these parts, but the U.N.'s inability to
stop the war in Iraq has sowed new seeds of resentment.

"Didn't they see it coming?" Mohsen Farouk, a 36-year-old carpenter from
Cairo, demanded. He decried the deaths of innocent people but insisted
that nobody should be surprised. "It was just a matter of time," he said.
"The U.N. is just a puppet of the U.S., and anyone who is angry with the
U.S. is likely to consider the U.N. a target."

The hard-line Iranian newspaper Kayhan was even blunter. A
front-page headline Wednesday read, "Destruction and Killing the Result
of Bush's Policies in Iraq."

Throughout the Arab world and Iran, the bombing was chalked up -- tacitly
or explicitly, depending on who was talking -- to a blundering U.S.
occupation, an organic outgrowth of the untenable instability in Iraq.
Moreover, many Arabs argued, the U.S. invasion endangered the United
Nations by rendering it irrelevant.

"There has been resentment simply because the U.N. became a tool in the
hands of superpowers," said Hasan abu Nimah, a longtime Jordanian
diplomat and former representative to the U.N.

The power wielded by the U.S. at the United Nations has long stoked anger
in much of the Middle East. The Arab world has seethed whenever
Washington used its U.N. veto -- as it has done with some frequency -- to
quash efforts to send international observers into the Palestinian
territories or halt the construction of Israeli settlements.

"The U.S. is so powerful and the U.N. is so weak," said Mishary Nuaim, a
political analyst at Saudi Arabia's King Saud University. "Nobody can do
anything to stop the U.S."

But in a region that scorns weakness, the United Nations  sank to new
depths in public opinion when the United States invaded Iraq without the
international body's approval.

"There's a widespread feeling that the Americans were lazy in protecting
the United Nations. Perhaps they've done it on purpose. Now it has been
proven to the Arabs that it is a weak instrument," said George Jabbour, a
Syrian political scientist. "It was assassinated twice -- first when the
U.S. went to war without a decision from the Security Council, and again

When the U.N. entered Iraq after the war, some neighboring countries
decried the move as lending a whiff of U.N. legitimacy to an unjust
occupation. To critics, the world body appeared to endorse the
controversial U.S.-led administration of Iraq.

"The U.N. did nothing for the Iraqis during the war," said Mohammed
Hindawi, a 32-year-old engineer in Cairo. "They arrived in Baghdad when
the coast was clear. People expected the U.N.'s support, and they didn't
get it. It's payback time."

At a cafe in Cairo's leafy Zamalek district, where the drone of Al
Jazeera television mingled with the clatter of conversation, a table full
of men erupted in protest at the mere suggestion that the U.N. and the
U.S. are two distinct bodies.

"The U.N. is just a screen for the U.S. -- it lost all credibility during
the war," said Ahmed Dafran, a 60-year-old retired cabdriver. "The Iraqis
haven't had time to breathe since the war and haven't got their heads
around what's happened. All they see is a stream of
foreign bodies coming in and telling them what's good for them."

Although some Arab governments supported the war, most of the Arab street
was bitterly opposed to it from the outset -- and has interpreted the
chaos of the occupation as confirmation of its worst fears.

In their political rhetoric, Arab countries have dealt uncomfortably with
the occupation. A deeply divided Arab League decided this month not to
grant a seat to the new Iraqi Governing Council. It wasn't an elected
government, members explained, although it was a step in the right

Beneath the criticism, analysts say, neighbors are gulping against the
fear of what might happen if the United States eventually became so
bloodied it pulled its troops from Iraq.

"We're now entering a dangerous phase, and there's an understanding that
if the United States should leave Iraq, there would be chaos and it could
engulf them," said Michael Young, a political analyst in Beirut. "So even
though publicly there may be talk of ending the occupation, privately
they understand the U.S. has to stay."

Still, many mainstream Arabs draw a certain quiet satisfaction from the
stream of guerrilla attacks on U.S. soldiers, said Abu Nimah, the
Jordanian diplomat.

"They didn't support the war, and they don't support the
occupation," he said. "And they don't want to make the life of the
occupiers easy."

Times staff writer Azadeh Moaveni in Tehran and Jailan Zayan in The
Times' Cairo Bureau contributed to this report.
Montreal Muslim News Network -

--------- End forwarded message ----------

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