International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

March 7, 2003

March 7, 2003




**  Many observers of the Arab and Organization of Islamic Countries summits lament that Arab/Muslim "weakness" translates into "no influence" over important events.

**  Other outlets praise the "firm restatement" of Arab/Islamic opposition to any war on Iraq.

**  UAE proposal for Saddam's exile "reinforces American goals."



Some bewail the 'failures' of both summits' 'cosmetic measures'--  Many outlets in Muslim countries emphasized the "complete paralysis" of their leaders and agreed that "Arab countries have no control over the situation" in the Gulf.  Morocco's business-oriented L'Economiste blasted the "inefficiency and demagogy" of the summits as well as their "empty revolutionary and democratic speeches."  Jordan's semi-official Al-Rai fretted that "war is coming and the Arab summit's decisions are powerless."  Iraq will "become an American colony," several exclaimed, while Arabs "remain subject to American-Israeli will, victims of their own inability and selfishness."  London's pan-Arab Al-Hayat predicted the "disappearance of the OIC" after the "imminent war."   Elsewhere, India's nationalist Hindustan Times noted both summits demonstrated their "official impotence in the region." 


Others praise the 'unified stand' rejecting war--  Some highlighted the Arab summit's "categorical" opposition to the war as well as the OIC's "firm restatement of the Islamic world's commitment" to peace.  Syria's pro-government Al-Ba'th hailed the summits' unanimous view that "a war on Iraq will be catastrophic" for the region and "the whole world."  Pakistani outlets agreed with the Arab summit that an offensive against Iraq "would constitute an attack on all Arab countries," and blasted the U.S.' "pursuits of genocide and annihilation against the Muslim countries."  Some dailies were less than charitable to member states that provide basing rights to the U.S.  Lebanon's moderate An-Nahar termed the "categorical Arab rejection of a war on Iraq...ambiguous."  A Tunisian daily stated that the resolutions against military action were designed to "save appearances."     


UAE outlets bemoan poor reaction to Saddam exile proposal--  UAE-based dailies predictably praised their government's proposal for "exile of the Iraqi regime," calling it "the fastest and shortest way out of this crisis."  Semi-official Al Ittihad said the plan could have provided a "peaceful breakthrough," while pan-Arab Akhbar Al Arab criticized summit attendees for missing "their solve this crisis with Arab hands."  Others were less complimentary.  Morocco's pro-government Al Bayane blasted the plan as "the U.S. attempt to torpedo the summit."  Others called the initiative "misplaced" because it would create "a serious precedent that allows overthrowing other Arab regimes."  Germany's left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau speculated that fear of the "domino effect" made Arab rulers nervous: "If Saddam is forced to abdicate, other leaders could also be ousted."

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg, Irene Marr

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This survey is based on 56 reports from 20 countries over 28 February - 7 March 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




GERMANY: "Arab Dilemma"


Karl Grobe noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (3/6):  "The discussion over the proposal for Saddam's abdication was avoided in Sharm-el Sheikh but caused a dispute at the summit in Doha a day later.  At issue is a domino effect:  If Saddam is forced to abdicate, other leaders could also be ousted.  Saudi Arabia's Monarchy could be in trouble in view of the social situation in the country.  In view of an unemployment rate of 32 percent, the debate about reforms alone could result in a coup.  If the dictator from Baghdad gives way to a new order that can be described as democratic, then this development could be infectious.  That is why Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdallah is playing tactical games with a reform paper, but, at the same time, he is slowing down the debate over it.  He remains a U.S. ally, but cannot support the U.S. war against Iraq."


"Arabia's Last Way Out"


Heiko Flottau editorialized in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/4):  "Indeed, Saddam is the only one who can prevent war by going into exile.  For the U.S., the search for WMD has turned into a minor affair, and Iraq's democratization, which George Bush proclaimed, is not the primary goal of the U.S. campaign either.  It is regime change and only two ways lead to this result:  War or the stepping down of the despot.  It cannot be ruled out that the government of the United Arab Emirates was inspired by the U.S. to present this proposal for exile.  It is true that the UAE are America-friendly, but they also keep a certain distance from the U.S. because their territory is not a stationing area.  But Syria, and Iraq itself, will resist the initiative.  That is why it is now up to Egypt to play a role.  A vote of the largest Arab nation against Saddam may encourage some people in Baghdad to turn openly against Saddam."


PORTUGAL: "Is The Socialist Party PS Writing Ana Gomes' Lines?"


Editor-in-chief José Manuel Fernandes noted in influential moderate-left Público  (3/6): "[Socialist Party (PS) spokeswoman] Ana Gomes criticized the Prime Minister for having suggested that a good solution to the crisis would be the exile of the dictator....  She asked, 'What do you do with contemptible dictators?  Don't you bring them to justice?'....  I couldn't agree more....  If Saddam is a 'contemptible dictator,' isn't it essential to know how we're going to bring him to justice?  By complying with the cat-and-mouse game to which we have surrendered for years on end--and which has become accentuated in recent days--or by using the means necessary in order for him to no longer be a 'contemptible dictator' and, like Milosevic, be judged for crimes against humanity?....  Is this the strident tone that the PS, a party that has led governments, thinks most appropriate?  I doubt it."




ISRAEL:  "Summit Of Fear"


Jackie Hoogie wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (3/2):  "Just like the Khartoum summit meeting was remembered for its three 'no's' regarding Israel and the Beirut summit last year will be remembered because of the historic Saudi Arabian peace initiative, the Sharm el-Sheikh summit will be remembered as the summit of fear, and perhaps will not be remembered at all, and that would be best.  Twenty-two leaders convened at Sharm el-Sheikh to demonstrate that they did not have even a single sanction that they could muster against a not particularly liked foreign power that is about to do as it pleases in the heart of the Arab world....  The Iraqi crisis exposed, for all intents and purposes, the absence of what is called the 'Arab world' in its political sense.  Farewell to the idea of Arab unity.  Everyone knows that the war in Iraq will serve as an historic precedent in which a foreign power imposes its will on a country that is a member of the Arab League, but no adequate response was found.  They might be able to push Saddam up against the wall, but they won’t be able to stop Bush.  The Arab street dreams of enlisting the Arab armies to the defense of Iraq and of imposing an Arab oil embargo on the rest of the world, but how are they going to organize military defense against America when they can barely agree to convene?"


WEST BANK: “Will The Muslim Summit Correct The Mistakes Of Previous Arab Summits?”


Independent Al-Quds opined (3/5):  “The American administration’s determination to wage war is obvious whether or not Iraq cooperates with the international inspectors. This determination has limited the choices of Arab and Muslim leaders, and even leaders of European countries such as Germany, France, Russia. Heads of these countries have been trying in vain to bring some logic to the American policy, which is rushing towards war. In current circumstances, however, the failure of the Summit and peace initiatives will not be surprising. The stubbornness and determination of the American administration in implementing its dangerous military schemes are on the increase. The Muslim Summit will not be any luckier than the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, because any decision that will be adopted by the summit opposing war against Iraq, even if it called on the Iraqi leader to step down, will most probably be ignored by the American administration.”


“The Summit Came Out With Nothing”


Mohanned Abed Al Hameed opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (3/4):  "The Arab [official] establishment has managed to score two major failures in a short time.  It has failed to prevent war [on Iraq], and has failed to protect the Palestinian people from the brutal Israeli war.  In light of these two failures, can the Arab system protect itself from change?  This system will, most probably be vulnerable to two kinds of reforms. [The first is] A reform that is dictated by American standards and American control. Such a reform, though, will later prove its ineffectiveness and its subservience to American interests.  The second kind of reform will be launched internally aimed at implementing democracy and helping achieve change in the Arab system.  Implementing democracy in this reform process, however, will depend on ending [Arab] submissiveness to the United States.”


EGYPT:  "Against Occupation"


Leading pro-government Al Ahram's columnist Reda Helal observed (3/6): "Changing Saddam's regime would prevent the war.  Arabs should not have rejected it because his record is fraught with the execution of thousands of his opponents, the torture of millions of prisoners, displacing millions of Iraqis around the world, causing the death of millions of Moslems in Iran and Kuwait....  It is shameful to see General Tommy Franks as a military ruler of Iraq and...Arabs should have instead rejected 'the occupation of Iraq' by demanding that, after the fall of Saddam's regime--either by war or voluntarily--there should be an interim Iraqi government...which would implement U.N. resolutions until an elected democratic government is formed.  Saddam's fall may embarrass some Arab regimes, but the occupation of Iraq will shake the entire region."


"On The Road"


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar's columnist Anwar Mohamed judged (3/6):  "Some may say this [UAE] initiative came in response to Secretary Powell's request....  However, I say this initiative expresses a collective desire by Gulf countries to overthrow Saddam, who has not hidden his ambitions toward his neighbors.  These countries say openly Saddam's departure has become necessary lest war erupts and the regime the hands of foreign troops."


"Saddam Is Not Important As Long As Bush Generalizes This Model Over Entire Arab Region"


Small-circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya's editor-in-chief Samir Ragab wrote (3/6): "We should admit no power on earth could prevent the U.S. from using military force against Iraq....  Then what is the point of all these summits and demonstrations?...  It is to exert psychological pressure....  American calculations are different.  They mistakenly believe that as long as they place a hand on oil, deploy military troops and impose their emergency laws, they will not suffer any resistance.  But, nations no longer accept repression....  If, God forbid, this American scenario were to occur, Iraqis would not be standing alone but would be joined by all courageous people of the world including Americans....  Will the call for Saddam's stepping down grow?...  Saddam will never do it since it would be treason to his nation....  America does not care about him because it seeks a much more comprehensive aim....  Logic says only Iraqis can overthrow Saddam."


“Good Morning”


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar senior columnist Said Sonbol wrote (3/4):  “The Arab summit avoided discussing the UAE initiative to settle the Iraqi crisis, based on urging Saddam Hussein to depart Iraq...with enough guarantees....  The idea is not new...but an Arab leader was courageous enough to declare it in the open....  Many may have discretely blessed the idea...but the situation differed when it came to the open. Many opposed it as a serious precedent that allows overthrowing other Arab regimes in the future.  This reason may be sound, but realistically, the Iraqi situation is unique....  It is the only Arab regime that fought its neighbors, used internationally banned chemical weapons against them, occupied another independent Arab state...and possessed a bloody regime....  Those who object to a strike on Iraq fear for the Iraqi people, but not the Iraqi regime. Those who demand Saddam to depart, seek to spare the Iraqi people from war and spare the region from chaos.”


“UAE Initiative”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram senior columnist Salama Ahmed Salama declared (3/5):  “While Arab leaders...were busy discussing a way to avert the war phantom from Iraq and the region...the world’s agenda went beyond that stage to speak about the post-Iraq plans....  Arab leaders did not pay enough attention to President Bush’s speech at the right-wing American Enterprise Foundation...where he confirmed his intention to maintain the liberating American troops to achieve the aim [of a free and peaceful new Iraq]....  This Bush determination to democratize the Arab world explains his dire need to launch war in Iraq and disregard any success the inspectors may achieve in disarming Iraq’s real or alleged weapons.  The Arab summit communiqué responded to this attempt--without mentioning America--by stressing that developing the Arab world and regimes is only decided by Arab nations without foreign intervention....  However, some Arab countries ignored this demand when the GCC re-proposed the UAE initiative that urged the Iraqi President to step down.  This initiative contradicts the Arab summit communiqué, which is why the initiative was rejected, because it is a serious precedent.  How realistic is this proposal other than being a short cut for American military intervention in Iraq and the region?”


“An Arab Dance”


Senior columnist Salama Ahmad Salama stated in leading pro-government Al Ahram (3/3):  “The UAE initiative has grasped the crisis from its tail.  It did not discuss the responsibility of the Arab countries in deterring the aggression on Iraq.  It found the solution in the Iraqi regime stepping down while offering it enough guarantees not to be pursued.  In that case governing Iraq would fall on the Arab league and the UN.  As if this was enough to prevent the war.”


“The Arab Summit And Real Demands”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram editorialized (3/1):  "The Arab world...hopes the participants of the summit do not waste time on...side issues which distract them from the main targets: to put away the phantom of war on Iraq and to revive the peace process frozen by Israel and to save innocent Palestinians from Sharon’s claws....  Arab leaders should...convince America to give the inspectors a chance...then Arabs would have done what they could and the aggressor would be to blame.  Arabs should convince Iraqi leaders to adopt a method which spares their nation from sure catastrophe.  Arab leaders should also agree on collective action to activate the peace process....  If Washington does not act to pressure Sharon, the peace process will stall, Arab frustration increase, and extremism and terrorism will touch everyone along with continued instability in the Middle East.”


IRAQ:  "No To Neutrality Regarding Right And Wrong"


Abd-al-Razzaq Muhammad al-Dulaymi commented in government-aligned Babil (3/6):  "In spite of cheap attempts by some people to divert the attention of the Islamic summit conference away from the goals for which it was held, there are hopes that honest Arab and Muslim leaders will take the right and just stand not only toward Iraq, but also toward all peoples who share the same cause....  Our stands toward such conferences are based on our realization of the influence that the Arabs and Muslims would command if they act boldly, wisely, and ably.   However, the opposite may happen if such conferences are used by some people as a platform to exchange abuses and show their sick behavior.  Such exchanges, which reveal hatred, can be prevented if Arab and Muslim leaders exert sincere efforts in this regard.   We highly value the efforts made by well-intentioned people.   These efforts show awareness of the magnitude of danger which bests the Arabs and Muslims as a result of the U.S.-Zionist threats that are coupled with odious hostility.  The threat to carry out an aggression against Iraq is the first step by the U.S. Administration of evil to divide all Arab and Islamic states without discrimination.  Therefore, those who took part in the Doha summit should bear their responsibility and have great courage to confront this threat and act to foil the U.S.-Zionist hostile plan.   Heroic and steadfast Iraq stands as a good example in this regard.  Let us quit flattery and appeasement because the Islamic peoples will not approve of their leaders standing neutral between Iraqi and Palestinian right and U.S.-Zionist wrong."


JORDAN:   “Serious Talks At The Sharm el-Shaikh Summit”


Tarek Masarweh wrote in semi-official, influential Al-Rai (3/3):  “The categorical Arab agreement against the war says something more serious than that.  It says that the American and British presence on Arab territories is, from a practical viewpoint, an occupation.  Since Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain reject the war that the U.S. and Britain mean to wage against Iraq, then the military build-up on their an abuse of security treaties, which were approved for the purpose of protection against outside aggression, and not for the purpose of becoming bases and launch-pads for aggression against neighboring countries.”


“The Summit’s Decisions, Who Will Buy Them?" 


Sultan Hattab noted in semi-official, influential Al-Rai (3/3):  “The U.S. doesn't want advice...from the Arab summit.  It rather wants the Arab summit to help carry out American schemes.  Since this did not happen, it is expected that the U.S. will either respond to the summit’s decisions or completely ignore them, and turn its attention to its bilateral contacts and relationships with Arab countries and to what has already been achieved in those areas and not stated in the summit’s communiqué....  The war is coming and the Arab summit’s decisions are impotent....  They have come too late.”


“The Summit Of Fears And Contradictions And Agreement”


Chief Editor Taher Udwan declared in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (3/3):  “The only value of the Sharm el-Shaikh communiqué is that it shows all the Arabs reject the war.   Despite the fact that American armies will in reality launch operations from Arab territories, the consensus agreement gives the impression that the U.S. is abusing its security agreements with the Arab countries to serve its own wars and interests that contradict the interests and desires of the Arabs.  Arab leaders had their backs to the wall and they would not have been able to survive the failure of the summit meeting.  They had no choice but to agree to the final communiqué.  This shows that the Arab countries feel that the war on Iraq carries so much danger for themselves that they have to put aside their conflicts and disagreements....  The summit can be described as a summit of pressures, worry, fear, conflicts and contradictions, but it did break through towards a unified stand of rejecting the war.  This, in itself, is important because it denies Washington legitimacy for its war.”


LEBANON:  "The Summit Of Half Success Half Failure"


Pro-Sunni Al-Liwa' editorialized (3/3):  "Half success; half failure.  This is the result of the hasty Arab Summit....  Those who understand the fragility of the Arab situation know that it was impossible to achieve more....  A lot will be said about the reasons for this half failure half success of the summit, however, we have to admit that the boldness of the Syrian President, the wisdom of the Saudi Crown Prince...and the flexibility of the Egyptian President are what saved the summit."


"The Summit Of Clearing Consciences"


Ali Hamade remarked in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (3/2):  "The Sharm El-Sheikh a clear proof that Arabs cannot stop the American war plans on Iraq....  Despite the categorical Arab rejection of a war on Iraq, however, the true interpretation of this rejection continues to be ambiguous....  Creating a delegation to go to decision-making world capitals is not a step in the right direction.  Those who want to stop a war should take practical steps to stop it....  The Arabs had this summit as their only chance to stop the war, but they missed this chance....  By mismanaging the summit, the Arabs have sent a clear message to the U.S. as if saying that they are not concerned about the war...and they sent another clear message to the Europeans as if saying that Arabs choose the U.S. over Europe."


MOROCCO:  "Dissolution"


Khalid Belyazid observed in French-language, business-oriented L'Economiste (3/4):  "Thank God that Libya and Saudi Arabia had a big argument; if not, nobody would have noticed the holding of this 'thousandth' Arab summit....  Do we need to end the Arab League?  By its inefficiency and its demagogy at the Summit, the Arab League gave the worst possible impression to citizens, societies, business leaders, and public leaders....  Our leaders request summits...and give the impression that they are working.  Some of (these summits) have stopped regional machinations for 10 years; others have left Palestinians with no land for 50 years.  There is only talk and no action anywhere....  Our leaders look like dictators who come one after the other with empty revolutionary and democratic speeches."


"Arab Nations Against The War"


Independent, French-language L’Independant commented (3/3):  "For the first time, the Arab Emirates stated publicly, in Sharm Sheikh Summit, the wish to see Saddam depart to exile....  Other Arab nations support the UAE."


"Unite Ranks More"


French-language pro-government Al Bayane declared (3/3):  "The Arab summit resolution rejects the war against Iraq....  The minimum on the part of Arab nations has been stated in spite of the U.S. attempt to torpedo the summit....  The real danger is the reaction after Blix presents his report....  The Arab people are asking their leaders to unite their forces as the people feel they are threatened by dissensions and conflicts that would only benefit Israel."


"Arab World Against The War In Iraq: Boomerang For Bush"


French-language pro-government Al Bayane opined (3/3):  "To our general surprise, 22 Arab nations did not follow the U.S. logic of war against Iraq and expressed opposition to the U.S. hostilities and interventions in the management of Arab countries....  The Emirates' suggestion with regards to the departure of Saddam did not get positive support as the Arabs were aware of the U.S. dangerous game.  The essential was not forgotten as the U.S. wished."


QATAR:  "Arabs"


Muhammad Salih al-Misfir wrote in the Internet version of Doha's independent Al-Sharq (3/4):  "We saw the conference secretariat distributing some documents to the heads of delegations after the Arab League secretary general announced that His Highness Shaykh Zayid, president of the UAE, may God give him long life, sent a message to the conference.  The surprise was that the message contains, among other things, a call on Iraq's political leadership to step down and place Iraq under the mandate of the Arab League and the United Nations. This message came as a bombshell in the summit, and the leaders did well when they ignored it completely....  The conference's final statement stressed 'categorical rejection of attacking Iraq and threatening the security and safety of any Arab country.'  The fourth paragraph of the statement said that the conference stresses 'the safety and security of Iraq's neighboring countries.'  But the statement did not identify the threats to Iraq's neighboring countries.  Four of these neighbors are hosting foreign troops that threaten Iraq's security and safety and do not harm the neighboring countries.  Where, then, does this threat come from?  The fifth paragraph of the statement ridicules the Arab mind as it stresses that 'the neighboring countries will not participate in any military action that targets the security, safety, and integrity of Iraq.'"


SAUDI ARABIA:  "OIC's Traditional Role Called Into Question"


Liberal Saudi journalist Dawood Al-Shiryan commented in London’s pan-Arab Al-Hayat (3/6):  "Today Washington views the OIC as a Cold War institution, which approved establishing religiously oriented organizations to advance political ends, including building Islamic groups to confront communist movements.  Now it must deal with a religious gathering, whose aims contradict the principles of the U.S. war against terrorism.  With the absence of an effective role by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the OIC summit in Doha was held as if it were without the owners of the house....  To adhere with the traditional role of the OIC, despite its weakness today, clashes with the interests and current positions of the members toward the American campaign against Iraq.  Therefore, the disappearance of the OIC from the international arena after the imminent war on Baghdad has become very likely."


"A New Summit With The Same Resolutions"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (3/6):  "We do not know what yesterday's Doha OIC Summit offered to solve the crisis of Iraq....  We believe that it was premature to call for an OIC summit immediately after the Arab summit....  It would have been more valuable if the Islamic countries had supported the resolutions and recommendations of the Arab summit."


"Until War Preparations Are Completed"


Abha's moderate Al-Watan opined (3/5): Although deposing Saddam from the regime is considered a serious move in international law, and a blow against all diplomatic principles, as the requested action is not only to get rid of his regime but also to depose a President from his country.  The international opposition groups are increasing, to include foreign and Arabic countries.  Their political leaders' decisions contradict their nations in rejecting unilateral decisions, consequently they reject American dominance over the world and controlling its economic resources.  According to its new policy, the U.S has the authority to reinstate or depose any one.


 "Iranian Proposal"


The Internet version of Jedda's English-language Saudi Gazette observed (3/5):  "Various ideas are in the air.  At this week's Arab summit, the UAE proposed the exile of Saddam and temporary takeover of Iraq by the Arab League until a new government is established.  France, Germany and Canada support status quo while giving UN weapons inspectors and Iraq enough time to destroy the weapons of mass destruction, if any.  For the United States, analysts generally believe, the aim is to remove Saddam by force and capture oilfields, and not the WMD....  Everyone will agree that out of all these plans the best appears to be the Iranian proposal...that President Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi opposition groups reconcile and agree to hold a UN-supervised referendum on the future of the country....  All Arab and Gulf states have been arguing that changing a regime is the right of the people of Iraq and that any forcible change of regime will unleash the forces of instability and chaos, apart from setting a new and unacceptable precedent that governments around the world will stay in power only if they are not disliked by a superpower, global or regional....  The proposed election may be supervised by the UN, the OIC, the Arab League and the EU."


"That Which Comes After The War"


London's pan-Arab, Al-Hayat ran a signed editorial by Salamah Neimat stating (3/5):  "The American President was wrong in his estimations about the chances for democratic changes in the Gulf region under American pressure, which increased the enmity against Washington....  The necessity for democracy in the region isn't supposed to be conditional upon the American plans. The Arab summit ought to deal seriously with the proposals for the stage after toppling the Iraqi regime, including the plan for changing Iraq into a democracy. Although the summit delegates acknowledged that they can't stop this war; at the same time they asked some Arabic countries not to cooperate militarily with Washington, in spite of that the same countries have American troops and military bases on their land....  The summit didn't play a role in reforming Iraq and the region's future."


"Reading Between The Lines Of The Arabic Communiqué"


London's influential, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editorialized (3/3):  "The summit ignored the existence of the American forces in the region through the agreement of all participants in a resolution, which stated that no Arabic country supports aggression against Iraq.  This sensitive position maintains a principle that must remain in effect in Arab policy, regardless of the complications related to it." 


"Nation Has No Sound Or Action"


Riyadh's conservative Al-Riyadh commented (3/3):  "Arabs have nothing to hold on to, since Iraq is about to become an American colony, governed by an American military leader.  On the other hand, Palestine is in the hands of the Israeli hardliners, to whom the Arabs gave the historical opportunity to disperse and kill the Palestinians....  Arabs have no choice in a fast paced time, in which the war is ahead of them....  America isn't even considering giving any other power a role in current events, irrespective of whether the country is a member of the UNSC or not.  In this case, Arabs have no influence in these events....  The world around us is waging a battle on our behalf, not only for sympathy and in the name of international authority, but also because it is more aware of the consequences.  To maintain its interests, the [super]power, which believes that war is the only way, is imposing this point of view on weak targets--the Arab lands are just a beginning."


SYRIA:  "The [Arab] Summit Rejects War"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Al-Ba'th said (3/5):  "The little storm haven't ruined the Arab summit; last minute messages haven't diverted a collective feeling of danger and the Arab street can finally catch its breath again now that the final communiqué has been issued. It is no exaggeration to say one of the first results of the unified Arab position in the Arab Summit in Sharm al-Sheikh was the Turkish Parliament vote on non-deployment of US forces....  Arabs have unanimously rejected war on Iraq. This adds a strategic element to averting war."


"Arab Unanimity Of Rejecting War"


Government-owned Al-Ba'th thundered (3/3):  "Syrian diplomacy during the Arab Foreign Ministers' meeting prior to the Summit intensified efforts for the Arab stand to coalesce and to rise to the challenge, and succeeded in convincing everybody that a war on Iraq will be catastrophic not only for the region, but for the whole world.  The U.S. Administration's goals are no longer a secret as the Administration itself has publicly stated its intention to reorganize the region in accordance with its own interests.  This will certainly serve Israeli interests, but at the same time it will harm Arab interests and block any effort to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the occupied territories....  The Arab summit succeeded in maintaining the minimum level of Arab solidarity and confirmed outright Arab rejection of war.  This serves Arab interests, especially together with the ultimate international rejection of war, which strongly helps to reinforce the Summit's resolutions and outcome."


TUNISIA:  "One Summit Pushes the Other"


Senior editor Noureddine Hlaoui wrote in independent French-language Le Temps (3/5):  "In the end, the Arab summit managed to save appearances, but will that be the case for the Islamic summit?  Is it necessary to mobilize leaders and representatives of more than fifty countries in order to come up with obvious recommendations such as a simple call for a peaceful solution for Iraqi disarmament? If the proposal of the voluntary exile of Saddam Hussein is once more to be discussed during this summit, we fear that the same scenarios that happened at Sharm-al Sheikh will happen again.  In fact, even if the Emirate initiative seems to be supported by other Gulf countries, it has been deemed by many diplomatic analysts as misplaced.  It reinforces U.S. goals and in particular, creates a dangerous precedent for international relations -- foreign interference in order to impose a change in sovereign countries' regimes. It is a dangerous practice which may sooner or later be applied to any independent country."


"Arab Summit: Is it The Beginning Of A Pragmatic Arab Action?"


Editor Mustapha Ben Ammar commented in independent French-language Le Quotidien (3/4):  "Whatever we say about the Arab summit, and despite the altercations that took place, the summit has at least taken place in a climate of frankness and transparency and resulted in a unified position, which rejects firmly the war option and refuses any participation in a military action against Iraq.... At least we should oppose the hegemonic will of Washington and Tel-Aviv and face the danger that threatens our region....  No power could impose change by force, even if such changes are salutary and desirable.  It should come from within and respond to our own aspirations and our own will."


"Same Disagreements Same Mistakes!"


Editor-in-chief Mustapha Khammari wrote in independent French-language Le Temps (3/2):  "The image (of the Arab world) was not gleaming at the summit which almost descended into disagreements and quarrels between Arab countries....  The American armada, settled in Arab territories, was quietly present and weighty to dissuade any intention of 'rebellion'....  We should admit that today Arab countries have no control over the situation prevailing in the Gulf region....  The solution will depend in particular on the Iraqi initiatives and the wrestling between the partisans of war and those who call for peace.  The Arab countries must conduct a self-criticism of their inability to learn a lesson and to unify their relations on any clear basis.  This way they can understand that the American focus on Iraq has occurred after the Palestinian issue was subject to over two years of harassment.  Now that force and violence have controlled the Intifada, it is Iraq's turn....  The pacification of the region, promised by Washington...will prevail permanently, as will the supremacy of Israel...and the irreversible dependency of the Arab countries subject to American-Israeli will, victims of their own inability and selfishness.  Hence whether or not the Summit disagrees, it will have no impact on the aftermath of the events."


UAE:  "Islamic World Is United For Peace"


Semi-independent English-language Gulf Times opined (3/6):  "Yesterday, the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chairman of the 9th Islamic Summit, described the circumstances facing the Islamic nations as extraordinary and complex, threatening grave consequences and repercussions to the security and stability of the whole world. The Emir was extremely frank when he acknowledged that 'we are not here to pretend that we have the international political or strategic (ability to) direct and command the course of these developments, yet we certainly can influence the course of such a decision and its possible results.'  The two most urgent issues affecting the Muslim world today--the Iraq crisis and the Palestinian cause--were the main topics of the Emir's speech. The final communiqué adopted by the summit echoed the views expressed by HH the Emir in his address and called on all countries to support the Islamic efforts to avert war. The Muslim leaders and their representatives stressed that all Islamic states should abstain from any military action threatening the security or territorial integrity of Iraq or any Islamic state. At the same time it urged the international community to work for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from the region, including Israel's, in accordance with UN Resolution 687. As the Emir correctly noted, the summit cannot prevent a war but the firm restatement of the Islamic world's commitment to upholding peace and achieving disarmament through diplomacy sends an important message to all the world's capitals.


"A Successful Islamic Summit"


Semi-independent Arabic-languge Al-Watan declared (3/6):  "The summits ended up very successfully. The Islamic countries proved to the world that peace was their strategic choice in the Doha Summit. The Emir wisely managed to contain the Iraqi-Kuwaiti exchange of accusations. The Emir of Qatar was very frank and honest with his people and with the rest of the Islamic nations and the world when he acknowledged that the Arabs and Muslims cannot change the course of war but can influence this course. The final communiqué reflected the real stance of all Islamic countries when it rejected any military action against Iraq and refrained Islamic states from participating in any military action targeting the security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Iraq or any Islamic state. This summit was a crystal clear message to the international community and the pillars of the world that Muslims of the world still believe in peace."


"Not Dealing Properly"


Abu Dhabi-based semi-official Al-Ittihad editorialized (3/5):  "The OIC Summit in Doha comes right after the Arab summit, which did not add anything to resolve the crisis that faces the Arab and Islamic worlds.  The summit also did not deal properly with the only initiative (the UAE's Initiative) that aims to end the crisis we are all facing.  This initiative stated clearly the importance of taking a unified and courageous stand, far from any controversy, in order to save the Iraqi people and lands from any conspiracies that threaten its present and future....  Will the OIC summit reach the level of challenges it faces, or will it remain like any other Arab and Islamic summit?"


"Obligation To The Palestinians" 


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al Khaleej commented (3/5):  "The OIC Summit in Doha should also be concerned with the Palestinian cause since it is an Arab and Islamic cause.  This summit should realize that what's happening on the Palestinian lands with no Arabic or Islamic reaction will lead to a crisis worse than that which occurred in 1948...the acts of Sharon's cabinet to kill the Palestinian cause and people has reached a very crucial level."


"Increasing Support"


Abu Dhabi-based semi-official Al-Ittihad opined (3/4):  "With the increased voices requesting a thorough revision of the techniques adopted at Arab summits, which usually only lead to further differences....  In the latest summit, the UAE initiative is the only hope left for Arabs to deal with their problems in an objective and responsible way, far from the typical courteous behavior for which the Arab people have been paying a dear price."


"UAE Not Interfering"


Abu Dhabi-based semi-official Al-Ittihad editorialized (3/3):  "Any thorough and objective reading of the UAE's initiative will treat it fairly and shut up whoever thinks that the UAE is interfering in the Iraq's internal affairs....  This initiative placed before everyone, with no exceptions, their responsibilities, especially the Iraqi leadership.  It also provides an Arab and international shield for a peaceful breakthrough that will save the souls of many who are on the verge of destruction."


"Initiative Deserved More Attention"


Abu Dhabi-based pan-Arab Akhbar Al Arab declared (3/3):  "What is strange is that the views presented in the UAE initiative regarding the exile of the Iraqi regime as the fastest and shortest way out of this crisis was not received with the attention it deserved....  The Arabs have lost their chance to implement this choice, which focuses on solving this crisis with Arab hands under an international umbrella.  This will cut the means for the U.S. and others from planning against Iraq and the region the worst scenarios ever.  What we are afraid of is that such scenarios will turn into facts in a couple of weeks, and then no 'if' will help."




CHINA:  “After The United Arab Emirates Made The Suggestion”


Wu Wenbin commented in official Communist Party-run People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) (3/5):  “Analysts think that the suggestion raised by the United Arab Emirates can be regarded as a compromise bridging the gap between the faction supporting war led by the U.S. and the U.K. and the faction supporting peace led by France and Germany.  The leaders of some Arab countries do not agree with this suggestion because they worry that, with this start, the U.S. will be swollen with inordinate arrogance.  Today, the U.S. can drive disobedient Saddam out of office and, tomorrow, the leader of some other country refusing to follow the U.S. line may be forced to ‘get out.’  Some analysts think that even if the leaders of some Arab countries support such a suggestion, they dare not make public the idea.”


PHILIPPINES:  "March Is The Bloody Month"


Columnist Adrian Cristobal wrote in the conservative Manila Bulletin (3/1):  "March, named after Mars, the Roman God of war, is the month for the B & B (Bush-Blair) shindig against Saddam, assuming that Bush stands by his conviction that he needs no UN resolution to attack Iraq.  Note that the looming war is against Saddam but it's the Iraqis who will bear the brunt of Anglo-American invasion.... Mind-boggling is the assumption that Saddam, after saying that he will not go into exile to appease Mr. Bush but die in his country instead, will, by some miracle, surrender or allow himself to be captured once the March - Mars mayhem occurs.  Or that, some clever Iraqis will storm Saddam's many hideouts and deliver him to the champions of human civilization.... The UN Security Council might as well get its act together and bow to the will of the free world's ayatollah.  That is the only way to preserve harmony under the new world order.  What is one country, more or less, between friends?"


"The Dilemma Posed By 200 Foreigners Acting As Shields If Iraq Is Attacked"


Former Court of Appeals Justice Jesus Elbinias wrote in the conservative Manila Bulletin (3/4):  "The consensus on the three point decision arrived at by leaders of the Arab League during their recent summit can defer, or even deter, the U.S.-Iraq war.  Their rejection of the U.S. attack on Iraq will keep them neutral when this war breaks out.  Their resolve not to take any part in it is a clear manifestation of their neutrality in it too.  They also threw out the proposal for Saddam to step down to avoid the war.  Now, pressing Saddam to step down may not serve as a war assistance to the U.S.  It is worse.  It will set an example to future enemies to imitate."


INDIA:  "Peace Is Elsewhere"


Anita Pratap wrote in New Delhi's weekly English-language foreign affairs magazine Outlook (3/3):  "It's time we all started turning our attention to Saddam, the 'villain of the peace.'   Global chain e-mails, public protests, civic action, human shields must now be directed towards him to do one of two things--either he must go into exile or he must comply as per UN Resolution 1441 and disarm fully, totally and quickly....  This is a man who has held on to power through sheer ruthlessness.  In his heyday, he had taken Iraq to a crest of secularism and development, but he has since plunged his nation into a trough of war, deprivation and devastation.  From all biographical accounts, Saddam is a man who feels the world denied him his due recognition. He can avert war and spare not only Iraq but the entire world of tragic consequences if he installs a more acceptable leader and voluntarily goes into exile.  Or he can ensure that his regime cooperates fully with the UN inspectors.  He will be remembered forever as the man who spared the world of a horrendous war that would ruin and unravel his country, destabilise West Asia and damage the world through terrorism and economic recession."


"Operation Desert Show" 


The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (3/5):  "The...Arab League...rejected any attack on Iraq and endorsed 'the need to resolve the Iraqi crisis by peaceful means.'  It also warned the United States against 'any military action that targets the security, safety and unity of Iraq and any other Arab country.'  It would have seemed that pan-Arab unity against a U.S.-led war on Iraq was in evidence. This display of camaraderie, however, would have fooled only a Martian....  While the Arab Street reflects its strong opposition to American plans and is unambiguously against its own governments' hypocrisy, the rulers of countries like Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia hold on to Washington's coat-tails for dear life.  For all its diplomatic posturing, the Arab League is a manifestation of official impotence in the region....  But the Arab States know which side of their bread is buttered--as does the understanding Bush administration."


PAKISTAN:  "The OIC Opposes War"


Islamabad's rightist English-language Pakistan Observer commented (3/7):  It's certainly a positive development for the Ummah that the leaders of the Islamic world have, at long last, woken up from their deep slumber in respect of the mounting U.S. pressure against the Muslim countries.  Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan and several other Muslim nations are Washington's persistent target on one pretext or the other.  Though belated, the OIC's loud and clear message to the U.S. and Britain will hopefully have desired effect to avert war against Baghdad.  It's really unfortunate that the OIC has seldom given a timely response to the West's onslaughts against the Muslim world....  If a brute's hand is not stopped today, it will be impossible to the restrain him tomorrow from his pursuits of genocide and annihilation against the Muslim countries.  This is the time for them to stand upright and refuse to be party to the death and destruction in Iraq.  To repent after the damage has been done will be simply futile."


"U.S.-Iraq Dispute And The OIC Resolution"


Populist Khabrain editorialized (3/7):  "A resolution issued at the conclusion of the OIC session in Qatar has rejected a U.S. attack on Iraq....  This is the first time the OIC has issued such an unambiguous declaration....  However, the OIC must not absolve itself of all responsibility (regarding Iraq) by merely issuing a statement.  It should go beyond that stage and provide strong and workable proposals in the United Nations to avert war." 


"OIC Resolution"


Popular Din noted (3/7):  "It is a good signal that for the first time a clear stance has been adopted in an OIC conference on any issue....  The unpleasant exchange between Kuwaiti and Iraqi representatives is unfortunate and shows how deep the mutual distrust goes.  Earlier on, the differences that surfaced during the Arab League session also weakened the organization's position.  The clash between Libya and Saudi Arabia was so intense during that meeting that Libya is now ready to opt out of the organization.  At a critical juncture such as this, there is a need for the Muslim world to bury past differences and forge unity among their ranks for larger interest of the Islamic world and its people."


"OIC Fails Again"


An editorial in the center-right national Nation read (3/6):  "The Qatar Emergency OIC Summit's greatest achievement will be to avoid the ringing endorsement of the U.S. invasion of Iraq that President Bush would love to get.  Still, even American Presidents know they do not get everything they want, so he will be quite happy with a watered-down expression of mild distaste similar to that made by the Arab League. However, even a strongly worded resolution, such as would warm the heart of the most passionate anti-American, would be nothing more than words, unless backed by some kind of action. OIC members are providing the U.S. crucial support for the invasion, and it is something of an irony that the Summit host is also hosting the U.S. Central Command's regional headquarters, from which General Franks will supervise the invasion. Cheek by jowl with the invading force, how far will the Muslim countries go to support their fellow member in its time of need?  Of course, the fellow member in question, Iraq, has hardly been an ideal to follow, or even easy to defend. Since it was founded in 1969, the OIC, now 56 members strong, has witnessed only two armed conflicts between its members--both caused by Iraq invading a fellow OIC member, first Iran and then Kuwait. Domestically, the Saddam regime is repressive and brutal, even by the unexacting standards of the OIC, which includes a large number of monarchies and dictatorships, and a sprinkling of what can only loosely be described as democracies. Few members would be willing to lay themselves on the line for Iraq, even if they were not facing overwhelming pressure from the U.S. and its Western allies. It is also sad but true that there is not much the OIC can do to help Iraq resist at this point." 


"Gulf States: Exile Of Saddam"


Sensationalist Urdu-language Ummat commented (3/5):  "In order to achieve its targets the United States is trying to create a rift between various Gulf States, which would confront the Muslims with a new problem. We think that those Gulf States which are considering the path of America as a means of their salvation should also remember that tomorrow the United States would not desist from seizing and plundering their rights by making these forced decision as a pretext."


"A Common Arab Stand"


The Karachi-based independent national Dawn commented (3/4):  "So far, on the Iraqi crisis, the Arab states have acted with diffidence.  Some leading states have prevaricated on the issue, others said they would oppose an American attack, but later relented by saying that they would cooperate with the U.S. if the UN sanctioned war.  For the first time, however, the Arab League has come out so openly against an invasion of Iraq and made it abundantly clear that such an offensive would constitute an attack on all Arab countries.  One hopes the Arab countries will continue to pursue this fearless course of action which they have adopted now.  A failure to stand united at this critical time will not hurt Iraq alone; it will do incalculable harm to the whole of the Arab and Muslim world.  The victors will re-draw the Middle East's map in a manner that will perhaps make Israel the dominant power in the region."


"Inaugural Session Of The Arab League"


Popular Urdu-language Din stated (3/3):  "It is encouraging that for the first time, the Arab League has called a session before an important but unpleasant event has taken place. What usually happens with the Arab League is that it starts digging for water after the world is on fire....  According to economic experts, even if the Arabs do nothing except withdraw their money from American and western banks, it would force those preparing for war to stop and reconsider their plans. It is also important that the Arab leaders consider Mahatir Muhammad's suggestion to give up their policy of keeping foreign exchange reserves in dollars....  However, the real need is for the Arab League to avoid taking cosmetic measures and do something concrete."




MEXICO:  "The Other One Percent"


Eduardo Valle wrote in nationalist El Universal (3/2):  "Everybody knows there is a 99% probability that the United States and its allies will attack Saddam Hussein's government during the first two or three weeks of March. But there is also a one percent probability that this will not happen.  This implies the glorious exile of Hussein, his families, and closest generals....  It seems that the President of Mexico has realized this, and is playing the game to its limit thanks to that one percent.  However, if this comes to a dead end, and the United States and its allies decide to attack Hussein without UN approval, then realpolitik steps in....  We need to continue playing with that one percent probability, but we need to do it cleverly, maturely, and sensibly.  We are on the right track."


PANAMA: "Hussein And Noriega"


Conservative El Panama America ran an editorial comparing Saddam Hussein and Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega (2/28):  "Just as Noriega, Hussein could avoid, with his exile, the tragedy and mourning of his people, but he won't do it deep inside both are both and show no love for their country, just a disturbed ego ... Finally, catastrophe will come for the people who always pay the highest bill; and as [for Hussein, like Noriega he] will exit after the first firing while his innocent  troops die for a bad cause."




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