International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

February 20, 2003

February 20, 2003





**  Many writers seconded UBL's claim that war on Iraq would "ignite the Arab-Muslim world."

**  A number said the U.S.' "hasty and predictable" authentication of the latest UBL tape came because the U.S. still "needs justification for this war" against Iraq. 

**  Administration supporters criticized both UBL's "murderous message" and "anti-American, anti-Bush types" who ignore evidence of links between Baghdad and al-Qaida. 




Many observers feared that UBL's 'new statement will radicalize Islamist groups'--  A number of outlets alleged that UBL would be able to "exploit" a conflict in Iraq "to mobilize support for his jihad against the U.S."  Kenya's intellectual East African, among others, noted that UBL's declarations reminded listeners that war against Iraq "has the potential of increasing the threat of terrorism a hundredfold."  Other dailies claimed attacking Iraq might prove a "dangerous wrong step" because "every Arab victim" in any war "would bring in dozens of new recruits for al-Qaida."  A German paper agreed that UBL would welcome a war as it could "lead to an anti-American uprising in the Islamic world." 


Washington treated the tape as 'a new trump card' to justify an attack against Iraq--  A majority of editorials decided that the latest UBL tape "does not prove a terrorist link between Iraq and al-Qaida."  Even Prague's usually pro-U.S. MF Dnes declared that "bin Laden's speech doesn't prove" ties with Baghdad, and that the U.S. "should eschew such arguments" if it "wants to be more credible."  Instead, several said that the timing of the tape's release was "quite opportune for Washington" as it seeks to "find arguments that legitimize his decision to declare holy war against Saddam."  Several leftist and Arab papers went so far as to decry the "American fabrication" of the tape, with Portugal's Expresso calling the tape's release "as ambiguous as it is suspicious."  Lebanon's nationalist As-Safir added, "U.S. intelligence has embarked upon a step which is not worthy of its supposed acumen and cunning."   


Don't 'wait until an attack with WMD delivers final proof of the Baghdad-al-Qaida link'--  A few Canadian, Taiwanese and German dailies viewed the tape as proof that "Saddam and bin Laden are one in hating the U.S." and decried the unwillingness of the "alliance of the reluctant" to invade Iraq.  Convinced that the tape established that the "al-Qaida terrorist network is indeed linked to Saddam's Iraq," the right-of-center Toronto Sun went on to blast "leftist peaceniks" who "only hear what suits their mindset."  Meanwhile, several Arab writers focused on criticizing UBL, whose "words only serve the enemies of Islam."  Egypt's pro-government Al-Ahram dismissed the tape, stating that "Bin Laden is no longer the maker of great events." 


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 36 reports from 23 countries over 12 - 19 February 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date. 




BRITAIN:  "Audio Tapes, Smoking Guns And The Morality Of This Looming War"


The left-oriented Independent expressed this view (2/13):  "As with so many developments in the Iraq crisis, the effect of the release of an apparently genuine tape of Osama bin Laden has been to reinforce the prejudices of both sides in the debate, perhaps inevitably so when issues of morality intrude so deeply.  The Bush administration has seized upon bin Laden's call to arms.  Washington, predictably enough, claims it as the latest evidence that al Qaeda and Iraq are locked in an alliance against the West.  Those who fear that President Bush is leading the West into an illegal and reckless adventure claim that the tape simply demonstrates what they have been warning for so long:  a U.S.-led crusade against Iraq will be used by bin Laden and his accomplices as grounds for a renewed wave of terror.  There is, of course, something in both schools of might be as well for both sides in the argument to accept the sincerity and conviction with which their opponents hold their views.  However, the balance of proof in the debate must lie with those who advocate military action, in order to demonstrate that, first, Saddam Hussein does possess weapons of mass destruction, and, second, that a war is the best way to neutralize the threat he poses."


"U.S. 'Eager' To Play New Bin Laden Tape"

Craig Offman and Pamela McClintock wrote for the independent newswire Reuters (2/12):  "It wasn't a United States news network that scooped Al-Jazeera on Tuesday in breaking word of the latest purported Osama bin Laden tape--it was the Bush administration, which seemed eager to play the tape to the masses.  Not long after 9/11 National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice requested that American news operations not run footage of the terror leader and his virulent anti-American message.  But Washington didn't protest the airing of this tape, perhaps because its contents support the Bush administration's allegation that Bin Laden's terrorist group Al-Qaeda and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein are allied."

FRANCE:  “Information And Disinformation”

Bruno Frappat noted in Catholic La Croix (2/13):  "Brainwashing is to truth what war is to peace. Disinformation is a sort of ‘last resort’ to manipulate minds and hearts when they resist. For the last few weeks we have been assailed with a flow of information, declarations, theatrics which all leave the truth staggering behind. Yet it is now that we need it the most, to sustain and motivate our convictions that are stifled by too much propaganda… For example the latest tape attributed to Bin Laden. It may be authentic. Bin Laden may be alive. He may have said those things and he may even have ties with Iraq....  But how can the British and the Americans, who just a few days ago presented a student’s homework as ‘proof’ incriminating Iraq, not understand that we are skeptical? When Saddam Hussein, who was capable of gassing his own people, makes concessions how can we take him seriously?....  Our conscience is left stumbling in the impenetrability of lies.”


"Bin Laden’s Tape"


Dominique Bromberger declared on government-owned France Inter radio (2/12):  “He who takes the time to read the text of the Bin Laden tape will understand that for Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein is not an accomplice.... although he can be a circumstantial ally....  This reading is miles from Secretary Powell’s declaration at the UN that Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden are the usual suspects of international terrorism....  Bin Laden’s call, if it is indeed Bin Laden on the video, is for a Jihad that has nothing whatever to do with the Iraqi regime… Bin Laden sees America’s war on Iraq as a means to ignite the Arab-Muslim world....  The paradox is that with a war on Iraq Washington is providing Bin Laden, again if it is really him speaking, with the perfect opportunity to resume his terrorist activities on a wide scale.”


GERMANY:  “Safer In Baghdad”


Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine judged (2/13):  “Bin Laden may have called on Iraqi Muslims to defend their homes against aggression, but it is doubtful, for now, that foreign civilians will be in real danger in Baghdad....  Saddam has killed, tortured, or expelled those Muslims who identify with Bin Laden’s position.  They would like to see the dictator toppled while simultaneously rejecting the West.  The much greater danger is that Bin Laden’s new statement will radicalize Islamist groups in Jordan, Egypt, and parts of Saudi Arabia.”


“United As Enemies”


Peter Muench wrote in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/13):  “Secretary Powell did not hesitate to call the tape authentic and see it as ultimate proof of Iraqi-Al Qaida cooperation....  In the past, the U.S. administration took much longer to check the authenticity of Al Qaida statements.  Today, the matter is urgent, because war is on the horizon.  A closer look at the Bin Laden tape does not prove a terrorist link between Iraq and Al Qaida.  The tape is an appeal to the Iraqi people to become martyrs in the fight against the Americans....  The message serves the Washington hawks as well as Bin Laden, which is a sign of its authenticity.  The United States needs justification for this war...but Bin Laden wants the military showdown as well, because it will lead to an anti-American uprising in the Islamic world.”


“Mail From Bin Laden”


Alan Posener maintained in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/13):  “Bin Laden’s analysis of the situation--U.S. soldiers are fighting for capitalists, arms dealers, the oil industry, and the criminals in the White House--repeats the same vulgar Marxist trope that respectable magazines spread in Germany....  Bin Laden knows the modern world.  Of course, the tape does not deliver proof of a link between Iraq and Al Qaida, but Saddam and Bin Laden are one in hating the United States.  The alliance of the reluctant--Germany, France as well as human rights champions Russia and China--must ask itself whether it wants to wait until an attack with weapons of mass destruction delivers final proof of the Baghdad-Al Qaida link.”


ITALY:  “Who Bin Laden Is Talking To”


Gabriele Romagnoli commented left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (2/13):  “Even this time, like every time we have heard his voice, Bin Laden spoke to two interlocutors: to both the brains and the guts of the Arab world.  And, as usual, he prompted different reactions.  The brains living in political science or military strategy study centers, in newsrooms, legal departments or in mosques, draw fine distinctions, qualify and are suspicious....  The guts, residing in those cafés where Al Jazeera keeps broadcasting his (Usama’s) message as a commercial spot or in private homes...go directly to the point, catch it and use it.”


"Usama’s Strange Present: A 'Smoking Gun' For Bush"


Guido Olimpio commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/12):  “Usama bin Laden provided the ‘evidence’ that Bush was seeking and his intelligence people were unable to find.  The man of Providence for so many desperate people, Usama bin Laden was providential for the White House this time.  He issued an 'invisible' statement--invisible like him--in which he states that he supports Iraq, albeit not forgetting the mistakes made by the ‘socialists and the infidels’ who are in power in Baghdad....  Bin Laden is transparent in his plans.  He does not want to avoid the war, but is instead seeking one since he has nothing to lose.  George W. Bush is helping him by engaging in an operation that will cause more hatred.  Usama is anxious to see a massive presence of Western troops in the heart of the Arab world, since that will strengthen the image of foreigners as ‘crusaders,’ supported by the United States-Israel axis.  The goals pursued by the terrorists are clear: to recruit more militants by exploiting the predictable anti-American reaction, and to make their attacks almost justifiable....  Terrorist bombs--perhaps human or chemical, as bin Laden hopes--will certainly explode....  Bin Laden’s message is an invitation and an order for the gang of assassins that has been only marginally affected by arrests and military campaigns.  He will probably wait for the first bomb on Iraq, and then he will intervene.”


RUSSIA:  "Bin Laden Gives U.S. Trump Card"


Boris Volkhonskiy opined in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (2/13):  "The United States' Number One enemy, unexpectedly, gave Washington a new trump card, helping to persuade the undecided and take down the opponents a peg.  He couldn't pick a better time to do that, two days before Hans Blix comes before the Security Council with his last and most important report."


"Usama, CIA At One Again"


Aleksandr Samokhotkin had this to say in reformist Vremya Novostey (2/13):  "Bin Laden's timing, quite opportune for Washington, is very bad for Baghdad.  In fact, he (or his look-alike) acted as a provocateur.  A similar thing happened last year.  When the Palestinian-Israeli conflict flared up again, Usama (or his alias) offered help to Arafat, with the latter refusing for fear of compromising himself.  Noteworthily, in the days of the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan, Saudi Usama Bin Laden, who helped the Mojaheddin, actively cooperated with the CIA."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Osama in Baghdad--Alliance Exists, Proof is Missing"


Frantisek Sulc observed in center-left Lidove noviny (2/13):  "Efforts that the U.S. Administration is making in order to prove a link between the Iraqi regime and Osama bin Laden are almost estimable. Colin Powell informed the world about Osama's tape before Al Jazira had actually broadcast it and before experts had had a chance to evaluate its authenticity. Even the tape is not a proof, because Osama doesn't talk about Saddam, but calls for resistance against the U.S. and its allies in case they strike against Iraq. The U.S. did not put across any piece of evidence that would match expectations that the U.S. rhetoric evokes.  Saddam is one problem and bin Laden second. It's high time to think about what impact Saddam's removal will have on the fight against terrorism."


"Osama Survived War"


Milan Vodicka noted in mainstream MF Dnes (2/13):  "Osama bin Laden spoke up and the U.S. says that they already have an evidence of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida. This isn't true. Bin Laden's speech doesn't prove it. And if America wants to be more credible while gathering evidences against Iraq, it should eschew such argumentation. Bin Laden "only" called on Muslims to stand up for defense of their Iraqi brothers in faith. Nothing else can be deduced from it. What a pity, it could have said more. But, it showed something else that is important. Osama is alive. Maybe you remember: Wasn't he the main target of the war on terrorism which started eighteen months ago?"


DENMARK:  "Undiplomatic U.S. Is Diverting International Focus Away From Combating Terror"


Left-wing Information declared (2/13):  "Saddam Hussein has violated [U.N. resolutions] time and time again and the international community ought to stand united against him. America's undiplomatic and disruptive behaviour has hindered [the necessary] unity.  America has led us to the verge of war, while other [more realistic] threats appear to be moving closer.  Just ask Osama bin Laden."


IRELAND:  "Ahern Must State U.S. War Opposition "


The centrist Irish Examiner editorialized (2/14):  "Regardless of whether bin Laden's personal suicide threat proves real or not, it will give George W Bush a vital link with the attacks...on September 11, 2001; an atrocity that claimed 3,000 lives and triggered America's self-declared war on global terrorism....  Generally viewed as a prelude to another strike, the bin Laden recordings are bound to heighten tensions in NATO, where a yawning gulf still divides the anti-war policy adopted by France and Germany on the one hand, and the hawkish policies of the U.S. and Britain on the other." 


NORWAY:  “Osama Bin Laden’s Voice”


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten declared (2/13):  "Osama bin Laden declaring that he supports all those whom the U.S. has pointed out as enemies, at the same time he threatens those who are supporters of the U.S., is totally in line with his political and military program. The U.S. of course knows this. That is why it is both too hasty and predictable when Secretary of State Colin Powell uses Osama bin Laden’s tape as a sort of evidence that there are close ties between Al-Qaida and Iraq....  His [bin Laden’s] propaganda and understanding of enemies is meant for opinion in the Middle East and might unfortunately have an effect there....  The Palestinians’ hard fate becomes a symbol that the U.S. doesn’t care about the Palestinians, but holds to a political double standard whereby Iraq must fulfill the Security Council’s resolutions to avoid a war, while it isn’t so serious if Israel refuses the demands of the international community. Such a situation makes it easier for Osama bin Laden and those who think like him to play effectively on both political and religious feelings....  The fight against international terrorism demands long term planning where all accessible financial, intelligence and political means are used. Now much of this has slipped to the background of all the war noise around Iraq. A U.S.-led war against Iraq might therefore be a dangerous wrong step in the fight against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.”


PORTUGAL:  "The 'Refusenik Front'"


Mário Soares, European Parliament Socialist Party MP and former prime minister and president of Portugal, inveighed in top-circulation centrist Expresso (2/15):  "The fatal war machine is on the march, with the whole powerful spread of troops ready for many months to act in the Middle East, and not just against Iraq--the most immediate and visible target....  And whenever needed, there is--as ambiguous as it is suspicious--that TV Al-Jazeera (which no one knows who directs and who pays for) broadcasting the voice and image of Osama bin Laden, that ghost who seems to come from beyond, to scare the most gullible and say, at any given moment, whatever is most convenient for the partisans of war....  This is not a question of 'Atlanticism' versus 'Europeanism'....  This is just a question of knowing whether we are partisans of the unilateralism of a 'preventive war' in defense of what they call the 'vital interests' of the United States--obviously Iraq's oil--or of the pluralism of the United Nations, forcing a prior resolution by the Security Council....  The attachment of the Eastern [European] countries to the logic of war...[shows] how the bellicosity of the Bush Administration can find docile followers among the governments of the new candidates to the [European] Union....  Shouldn't this call into question the calendar for enlargement, since the candidate countries are letting themselves ignore the options of the Common Foreign and Security Policy?"


ROMANIA:  "Right On Time"


Political analyst Roxana Frosin commented in pro-business Curentul (2/13):  "Authentic or not, American propaganda or not, the latest audio anti-American intervention attributed by the United States to Osama bin Laden comes right on time in the campaign to prove the legitimacy of the use of force against the Baghdad regime.  After being unable to find any concrete evidence which would have proven the existence of an Iraqi WMD arsenal, in a strange coincidence, UN inspectors came forth with information that Baghdad has violated United Nations resolutions by manufacturing missiles with a longer range than those permitted.  All of this takes place during the NATO crisis, and only one day before the presentation before the Security Council of a new report by U.N. weapons experts, which is considered crucial for the future of Iraq and the Middle East.  In these circumstances, the document has a big chance of tilting the balance forever in favor of war.”


SPAIN:  "A Ghostly Voice Feeds The Escalation Of Psychosis"


Independent El Mundo wrote (2/13):  "The importance given to this suspicious tape [of UBL], only proves that Bush and his collaborators are anxious to find arguments that legitimize his decision to declare holy war against Saddam....  One gets the impression that as the internal and external opposition to the war grows, the White House is doing all it can to create a climate of psychosis that makes an intervention inevitable"




EGYPT:  “Advise From Field Marshall Bin Laden”


Pro-opposition Al Wafd columnist Salah Eissa declared (2/15):  “Seeing that country over which he implicitly presided collapse, his training camps destroyed, Al Qaeda members dispersed...Bin Laden...decided to become a television announcer. He makes tapes about struggle, and broadcasts them on Al Jazeera while only he and the fool of the age, President Bush, benefit and Arabs and Moslems are harmed....  While Iraqi officials have strongly denied Powell’s allegation of Iraqi ties with Al Qaeda...Bin Laden’s recent tape...confirmed Powell’s accusations....  The funniest part is the precious lessons he advised Iraqi leaders to learn from him by leaving Iraq to the Americans, escaping into caves and making similar tapes for Al Jazeera. God forgive those of us who are fools.”


“Saddam’s Links With Al Qaeda Is A Fabrication”


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar writer Mohamed Wagdy Qandil asserted (2/16):  “Bin Laden’s new tape refutes a connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam while American officials attempt to link them. Bin Laden attacked socialist regimes, including the Baath in Iraq, placed it in the same corner with America and its allies as infidels and threatened attacks by Al-Qaeda and other organizations against American and Western targets in case of a war on Iraq. This confirms that Washington’s accusations of Saddam’s ties with Al-Qaeda are just a pretext to launch war....  The supporter of an Islamic group in the Kurdish areas in the north of Iraq is another pretext by Washington to tie Saddam’s regime with al Qaeda but there is no proof.  Apparently the hawks of the American Administration are trying to propagate the pretext that the Iraqi regime is involved in terrorism. What an American fabrication.”


“Bin Laden’s New Tape And The Al Jazeera Crisis”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram contributor Wahid Abdel Meguid noted (2/16):  “Al Jazeera considers a tape by Osama Bin Laden to be a great conquest or a treasure. This was possible after September 11 when Bin Laden was a main factor in international politics....  Al Jazeera at that time rose to the level of international channels. But soon Al Jazeera lost its glamour especially among more competitors....  Instead of looking for the real reason for its decline and working on improving, it took the easy route of securing a tape attributed to Bin Laden--even though it is not certain it is his...[but] Bin Laden is no longer the maker of great events even after his followers committed attacks in Bali, Kenya and Kuwait assassinations....  Moreover, his failure to appear on the new tape diminished its importance....  Unfortunately, this tape has cost Al Jazeera its professional status.”


LEBANON:  "Who Is Serving Israel?"


An editorial by Gebran Tueni in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar read (2/13):  "It seems that the United States, irrespective of the decisions to be reached tomorrow at the Security Council, will go to the end in its war against Saddam....  We have to remember, however, that if a war is launched against the Iraqi regime, this war should never be considered a Christian war against Islam.  It is not a crusade against Islam.  What Bin Laden said in his latest message only aims at igniting sectarian strife in the region. His words only serve the enemies of Islam.  Everyone knows that Bin Laden...has nothing on his agenda but violence and hatred....  The West does not represent Christianity and the Arab world does not represent Islam.  We remind our readers that the majority of Islam is outside Arab countries and many support the United States, while many 'Christian' western countries are currently against the 'Christian' U.S. in its plans to attack Iraq....  The war against Saddam Hussein has nothing do with sects and has noting to do with civilizations.  It is a political war against a dictatorship....  We say frankly that anyone who will try to claim that the war against a war between the west and the east or a war between Islam and Christianity is either a stupid ignorant person or an Israeli agent...radicalism does not serve any country except Israel....  We say that a dialogue between civilizations, including a dialogue between religions, might resume at a faster and more positive pace following a war against Saddam...particularly if the Middle East becomes more democratic and more free."


"The Last Stop"


Sateh Noureddine wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir (2/13):  "Osama Bin Laden's message, which was disclosed by Secretary Powell and telecast continuously by Al-Jazeera since last Tuesday, has cost U.S. intelligence agencies their dignity and reputation....  The first impression this message leaves is that it could be fabricated by...Washington which probably wants to push Bin Laden out of hiding....  Primary reactions to this message tell us it is not...authentic....  This message...was supposed to support President Bush's campaign, which is trying to convince its allies and friends that there is a link between Al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime....  However, the content of this message, the timing and the approach confirm that U.S. intelligence has embarked upon a step which is not worthy of its supposed acumen and cunning."


"The Impact Of Bin Laden's Message"


Aouni Al-Kaaki commented in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq (2/13):  "The U.S. administration has taken advantage of Bin Laden's message to claim that it proves that there is a link between Al-Qaeda and Iraq....  The United States wants to say that no one in the world can face it and that it will take the final decision....  It is true that the timing of Bin Laden's message is very bad, however, it also embarrasses the U.S. administration....  In any case, America does not need Bin Laden's message to justify its imminent war against Iraq.  It has already taken the decision to attack....  Its justification for an attack was always weak, and it will not get stronger by taking advantage of Bin Laden's message....  Anyone who believes that the wrong timing of Bin Laden's message is a trump card in the hands of the United States is wrong....  Furthermore, we always have to remember that Bin Laden is basically America's creation--a creation which backfired."


MOROCCO:  "Government Source: The Answer To UBL Requires Listening To The Tape Another Time"


Professor Taj Eddine Husseini wrote in independent, Arabic-language, business-oriented Assabah (2/14):  "Many Arab regimes have been mentioned in the tape including Morocco, as a slave of the U.S....  Moroccan sources said that Morocco would answer UBL after the feast.  Other sources stated that the feast cannot be a justification for not answering him."


“A New Audio Tape Was Attributed To UBL, A Godsend For Washington”


Khadija Ridouane commented in semi-official, French-language Le Matin (2/13):  "For analysts, especially in Europe, the tape is suspicious.  What is surprising is that Colin Powell knew about this tape and talked about it last Tuesday, even before it was broadcast by 'Al Jazeera.'  The statement in the tape was enough for the U.S. administration to “confirm” the link of the Iraqi regime with “Al Qaeda”. The eagerness of the U.S. to authenticate the tape seems suspicious for analysts, and a pretext for the U.S. to attack Iraq.”


TUNISIA:  "A Letter From Bush To Bin Laden" 


Independent Arabic-language weekly Al Hadath stated (2/19):  "Following is the imaginary text of a letter sent by Bush to Bin Laden on the Aid celebration....  'Dear Bin Laden, as usual this time you were on time, as your declarations on Al Jazeera Channel and on the Internet came on time to save me from the pickle I am in these days.... As you know things are not going very well in the Security Council....  Your letter came at the right moment, as my situation started to get worse with the huge demonstrations that took place in London, Washington, Madrid and Rome, the capitals that support me in launching a war against Iraq....  Everybody knows that I was in a difficult situation before 9/11 after what happened in the elections and after what was said about me, not being able to get out from the economic situation in the U.S....  9/11 attack gave me a new breath and allowed me to escape from the proceedings and enabled me to direct my people's interest to the outside....  The beginning was Afghanistan...but you are still alive, which is the most important thing.. you are even working hard to save me and help me whenever I need you. And I am very pleased....  Dear Bin Laden, it is true that what you mentioned in your message in Al Jazeera caused a big debate...but this debate is working fine with me, as it gives me time to gather my military forces in the region and to convince France and Germany of the necessity of confronting Saddam.... Your choice of the timing was very important because you succeeded in catching the international community's attention, which eased the pressure on me, as everybody forgot everything and focused on what you said.'"




CHINA:  “Laden Talked Again: A Signal Or A Plot?”


Shi Yu noted in official popular Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (2/13):  “Many analysts and observers think that if the Bin Laden tape is not a trick played by U.S. intelligence agencies, at the very least, the U.S. Government is attempting to further promote its war plan against Iraq through publicizing the tape.  In fact, Saddam and Bin Laden cannot be in the same trench.  Bin Laden used to be a member of the U.S. camp and even accepted financial aid from the U.S.  CIA before the Gulf War.  In 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait, Bin Laden strongly opposed Iraq’s invasive actions.  What is more important is that modern Iraq is completely out of tune with Bin Laden’s extremist religion.  Bin Laden himself regards al-Baath, the Iraqi ruling party, as infidels who merely drink whisky and do not believe Allah.”


TAIWAN:  "Bin Laden Helps His Arch-enemy"


Pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times opined (2/14):  "The release of an audiotape at this particular point is an act of political adventurism that targets two of bin Laden's enemies--the U.S. and Saddam.  In the speech, bin Laden appeals to Iraqis to join with him to battle their common woe, the U.S.  Washington and its allies may score a victory in Iraq, or they may get bogged down in a long-running war.  Both scenarios are to bin Laden's advantage....  The audiotape may give the U.S. stronger reasons to dissolve the opposition coming from Germany, France and others against military action in Iraq.  That will help the U.S. out of its legitimacy crisis in the push for a war.  On the other hand, however, bin Laden has also stoked the flames of anti-American sentiment among Muslims, allowing him to reap benefits from the U.S.-led Iraq quarrel and make himself a radical anti-U.S. Muslim leader."


INDIA:   "The Evil Alliance Expands" 


An editorial in the centrist Telegraph read (2/19):  "Bin Laden despises Saddam Hussein, but wants to see the American troops mired in Iraq....  The objective is to win the wider war, and if your enemy can be diverted into doing something stupid, like invading Iraq, that is all to the good. Bin Laden has been condemning Hussein...but if the United States of America wants to wade into Iraq and kill lots of Muslims, by all means let it do so. That would kill two birds with a single stone....  The more innocent Arab Muslims the U.S. kills in Iraq the better, from bin Laden's point of view, since every Arab victim would bring in dozens of new recruits for al Qaida and its fellow Islamist movements in the Arab countries.  That has been bin Laden's strategy from the start. The Islamists have been unable to persuade enough Arabs to join them in overthrowing the existing secular Arab governments despite 20 years of terrorism in the Arab countries, so al Qaida was created to enlist the unwitting support of the "far enemy" (the West) in the struggle....  The Bush administration did not walk into that trap, and instead focussed its attention on dismantling al Qaida's bases in Afghanistan....  No Arab country has been attacked by the U.S....  Now, however, Bush has created a trap for himself by targeting Iraq, and is about to walk into it. Bin Laden is delighted, and is urging all Muslims to resist. Can senior White House officials really be so ill-informed about bin Laden's goals and strategy, or do they just assume that the U.S. public hasn't a clue? And if they do understand what bin Laden is up to, why are they planning to do what he wants anyway?"


"Osama Sneaks Into Bush War" 


A dispatch in the centrist Telegraph read (2/13):  "President George W. Bush has not mentioned Osama bin Laden for several months and pointedly excluded his name from his State of the Union address....  But the world's most wanted man has returned to America's center stage, spreading alarm across the country....  Osama's sudden elevation to the heart of the Iraq crisis was bizarre and added to jitters....  Word of the tape, in which Osama...denounced Iraq's President Saddam Hussein as an infidel, first came from US secretary of state Colin Powell....  It appears a transcript of Osama's message had been sent to Powell even before al Jazeera had made up its mind on whether to air it....  If Powell believed that exposing the Osama tape calling for solidarity with the Iraqis during a U.S. attack would convince the world about ties between al Qaida and the regime in Baghdad, he did not succeed in this effort."




KENYA:  "Iraq War: Now, CNN Is Learning To Say No"


Rasna Warah declared in the independent intellectual weekly East African (2/17-2/23):  "Global media networks have also changed their tune.  Unlike in the days and weeks immediately after the September 11 attacks, news anchors and reporters are taking pains to talk to people from the "other side:"  correspondents and experts on Arab affairs are being asked about the repercussions of the war on the region; Iraqi people are being interviewed on what war would mean to them;  and suddenly the U.S.' actions are themselves being scrutinized....  The war on Iraq is not a war against terrorism or dictatorship.  Rather, it is a war against the powerless in order to gain access to their resources.  Besides, a war with Iraq has the potential of increasing the threat of terrorism a hundredfold, by uniting all those who are opposed to war, whose numbers are growing by the day. Even Osama bin Laden, who doesn't particularly like Saddam Hussein whom he calls a socialist infidel, is now siding with Iraq, if his recent pronouncements on Al Jazeera are to be believed."


UGANDA:  "Why Have Allies Shifted? "


The state-owned New Vision's lead editorial wondered (2/15):  "The world is moving closer to war yet the world is increasingly divided over whether it is necessary or not.  In essence the arguments against the Iraq war boil down to two. Is Saddam so much worse than other dictators around the world? And will Iraq self-destruct as a state if Saddam is removed?  Rightly or wrongly, many people around the world believe that the risks of forcefully removing Saddam far outweigh the possible benefits. In particular, there has been no substantive connection between the secular socialist Saddam and al-Qaeda in the past but now Osama bin Laden will be able to exploit the conflict to mobilise support for his jihad against the United States.  The whole world, including virtually all Arab and Islamic states, supported the Gulf War to punish Saddam Hussein for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The whole world supported the removal of the Taliban regime and elimination of al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan in 2002.  The very countries that the United States is now castigating for lack of resolve supported the Gulf and Afghan wars....  Did they lack resolve in 1991 and 2002? President Bush should seriously consider why formerly staunch allies are so reluctant to support his new war on Iraq."




CANADA:  "Bin Laden Defends 'Brother' Saddam"


Right-of-center Toronto Sun editorialized (2/12):  "Those who refuse to listen, will not hear.  Yesterday, Osama bin Laden sent a message to Saddam Hussein's Iraq....  He called for all-out suicide attacks by Iraqis against any U.S.-led coalition that goes after sadistic dictator Saddam Hussein....  And the Chretien government still dithers about supporting a proposed U.S.-led force to go after Saddam and his hidden weapons of mass destruction....  Of course, the on-the-lam terror boss also issued threats against anti-Saddam Iraqis ("hypocrites") and Arab rulers "who help America."  U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell listened to the tape and told a U.S. Senate committee that it only verified claims by the U.S. and Britain that Saddam has given safe haven and even provided operational support for al-Qaida terrorists....  Well, you might think that such a verified audiotape and bin Laden's murderous message would persuade many leftist peaceniks and Muslims that the al-Qaida terrorist network is indeed linked to Saddam's Iraq.  But no, too many don't want to believe it, even as they hear bin Laden's words.  Heck, even French leader President Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder are doing their damndest to sabotage all efforts of U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to go after Saddam....  Meanwhile, PM Jean Chretien continues to hedge Canada's position--saying he's waiting on the UN inspectors' next report on Friday--while stating NATO should help Turkey.  As Don Cherry, the blunt-spoken, very strongly Canadian hockey analyst, said yesterday: 'We should stop our dithering and give full support to our American allies.'  Of course he's right. But you can be sure the anti-American, anti-Bush types will not listen to such advice. They only hear what suits their mindset."


ARGENTINA:  "Bin Laden: A Message That Benefits The White House"


Ana Baron opined in leading Clarin (2/12):  "With his crusade against Iraq, President Bush has destabilized western world security (NATO and the UNSC), but the cost is that he increased chances of new terrorist attacks such as the ones that took place on 9/11.  Bin Laden's message aired by Al Jazeera yesterday helped the State Department beef up its offensive in signaling it out as the 'evidence' of Bin Laden's relationship with Iraq and the author of those bloody attacks. But, in fact, it proves completely the opposite. If Bin Laden were really a friend of Saddam's he wouldn't have aired a message to the world that, everybody knew, was going to be used by the U.S.  Bin Laden's declarations were a good reminder that a war against Iraq will increase the terrorist threat in the entire Western world precisely when U.S.-NATO relations are at their worst moment....  The lack of tact displayed by the Bush administration regarding what Rumsfeld called 'the old Europe' not only created divisions that will be very difficult to overcome within NATO but also in the heart of the UNSC. This means that Bush has placed NATO and the UN - the world's two most important security organizations since WW II--at stake....  Nobody doubts that the U.S. is capable of defeating Iraq via military force. However, the key question is 'what will happen the day after.'  The White House yesterday made efforts in an attempt to tone down the crisis within NATO. But many people fear it may be too late."



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