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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 27, 2003

June 27, 2003





**  The WEF became a "political arena" due to ongoing Palestinian and Iraqi issues.


**  There is an "urgent and pressing" need for reforms in most Arab countries. 


**  Skeptics say free trade with the U.S. would confirm regional "subordination to America." 


**  "Normal trade" between Arabs and an "occupying power" like Israel is impossible.




Mideast politics replaced 'economic development as the focus'--  Arab observers agreed the WEF "was not held simply to exchange global economic views, but to form a new political settlement" in the region, with the roadmap and Iraq "given top billing."  "Politics dominated economics," according to Lebanon's moderate An-Nahar.  A Saudi writer doubted the WEF "will be of any good to the Palestinians."  An Egyptian daily termed an FTA between Arab countries and the U.S. "difficult to achieve," predicting that "zeal about improving the region's economic condition will fade."   


The region needs 'transparency of politics and economics'--  The Mideast is unlikely to become a "safe environment for investment."  Italy's business-oriented Il Sole 24-Ore termed the region one of the world's "most depressed areas," adding that most "Arab regimes will remain opposed to economic reforms."  Moderate Arab papers urged "openness, reform, renewal, transparency, rights and law."  The centrist Jordan Times demanded "local political accountability."  A Tunisian daily advocated an "inter-Arab free trade zone" over an FTA, which the semi-independent Times of Oman said "could transmogrify the whole region."


FTA proposals are just a 'U.S. gambit to make the whole region its satellite'--  Skeptical Arab dailies saw the FTA as part of a U.S. goal to "control the world."  A Tunisian paper doubted any "fair partnership" could emerge with an "economic giant like the U.S.," while the moderate Riyadh Daily urged a "balanced policy...that will liberate us from and not hold us hostage" to the U.S.  American "colonization" efforts to "loot the Iraqi wealth" reflect a U.S. strategy to make the Arabs "followers of America."  Egypt's leading Al-Ahram concluded that "reality shows America rules Arab countries." 


The roadmap must precede economic agreements--  Arab outlets stressed the "international consensus" in favor of "Bush's vision of peace in the roadmap," cautioning that sidelining the "Palestinian tragedy" will cause the "failure of the implementation of a free-trade zone."  An Omani daily judged that the FTA would have received more support if it had come "after the withdrawal of the Israelis" from Palestinian areas.  As the "roots of terrorism lie in the occupation," according to the UAE's pan-Arab Al-Khaleej, the "success of any economic project" in the region depends on the creation of an "independent Palestinian state."

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 26 reports from 14 countries over 21 - 27 June 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




GERMANY:  "Long Road To Peace"


Business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf opined (6/24):  "The peace process in the Middle East has got bogged down before it has really started.  And the members of the quartet that is to bring peace to the region...  look helpless and intimidated....  America is groping its way in a region that it clearly controls at the latest since the end of the Iraq war.  It must not only organize reconstruction.  For America, there is only one option in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Peace, and at least the absence of violence.  But Israel and the Palestinians do not dare to embark upon this path.  Doubts are en vogue.  But the quartet, Israel and the Palestinians have a short-term chance, but no more.  Those act irresponsibly who only appeal and refer to the historic chance but leave action to the radical elements on both sides.  Active action from America and Europe means to moderate talks between the parties in a constructive and clearly targeted way.  It also means to get the region economically back on its feet again.  A Marshall Plan for the Mideast, sponsored by America

 and Europe, would be a good beginning."


ITALY:  “A Road Map For The Economy Too”


Ugo Tramballi remarked from Amman in leading business-oriented Il Sole 24-Ore (6/24):  “This is the American prize for those Arabs who will cooperate to bring peace in the Middle East: the free access to the world’s richest economy and the biggest market, to the Aladdin lamp of American consumerism. Once peace will be implemented in Iraq, and the road map reaches its final destination, George Bush envisages that in a decade, a free trade zone, which will open to all the 22 countries in the region, will be established....  After having liberated or invaded Iraq--depending on how you look at it--the U.S. occupies another bulwark that previously belonged to other. In the pre-9/11 Middle East, the one of the Oslo agreements and the Camp David summits, there used to be a sort of division of labor: America lead the political march toward peace, and Europe paid the bills in those countries where it was possible to make peace through investments....  As in a Bolshevik revolution, the victory in Iraq has changed the old labor division and America has decided it no longer wants to share....  But the new battle the Americans and the Europeans are about to fight is not a golden fleece. The ME remains one of the most depressed areas in the world, notwithstanding Bush’s vision. And even once Iraq is stabilized, and Israelis and Palestinians stop killing each other, most of the Arab regimes will remain opposed to economic reforms.”


IRELAND:  "Leaders Urge Progress On Middle East Peace Deal"


Michael Jansen contended in the center-left Irish Times (6/24):  "World leaders ended a special Middle East session of the World Economic Forum yesterday with calls to Palestinians and Israelis to work for peace and to Iraqis to rebuild their country....  Mr. Colin Powell continued to stress the importance of adhering to the road map and called for an end to the cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis....  He also pushed for the adoption of the Bush administration's proposal for a regional free trade zone within a decade but was told by Arab figures that they could join only once there is peace with Israel. The reconstruction of Iraq was also a central topic. Mr Paul Bremer, the US administrator, spoke of his plans for management of the oil sector and the privatisation of public firms but his comments were overshadowed by demands for more Iraqi involvement in reconstruction. The sole Iraqi politician attending was Dr Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister and head of a liberal democratic movement. He said the occupation should continue until a stable government is in place but stressed that Iraqis were impatient for this to happen.”




ISRAEL:  "Once Again, A Partner For Dialogue"


Sever Plocker opined in mass circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/22):  "The sole importance of the [WEF] conference in Jordan is symbolic....  A year ago any such conference with Israeli attendance--be it private, public or official--could not have been held.  The Arab street would have responded furiously.  The Palestinians would have refused to attend.  The Muslim states would have boycotted.  This time, the conference was boycotted only by the Libyans, the Iranians and the Syrians.  All of the others came and were prepared to meet, converse and mingle with the ministers and senior officials of the Likud-led government of Israel.  And nobody protested.  That definitely is a dramatic change in the Arab approach to Israel.  In Arab consciousness, as it is reflected in the Dead Sea Davos conference, the current round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has ended and, as such, the time has come to lay down arms and to begin talking again.  Israel, once again, is a partner for dialogue. A partner who is received with reserved chilliness, but to whom one need not turn one’s back."


WEST BANK:   “International Assembly At The Dead Sea: Confirmation Of A Political Solution”


Rajab Abu Sariya commented in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (6/24):  “An international consensus has emerged after the Aqaba summit and the Quartet meeting at the Dead Sea resort confirming that, despite the presence of those who are against the roadmap, including the Israeli government...the roadmap should be implemented. The U.S. and the international community seem to be determined this time to impose a political solution by means of the roadmap. It is clear that the repeated Israeli attempts, including the assassination attempt of the [Hamas senior leader] Rantisi right after the Aqaba summit and the assassination of [another senior Hamas leader] Qawasmeh, were not powerful enough, even with a Hamas reaction, to prevent the international community from imposing a political solution. Therefore, it is in the Palestinian best interest to give a positive response to the ‘Hudna’ as soon as possible. Stopping aggression is a Palestinian need because the Palestinians are the victims of occupation and aggression. It is the Palestinian side that is paying the highest price for the ongoing and unbalanced confrontations, costing the Palestinians losses in life, economy and political standing.” 


EGYPT:  “America Is Ruling Us”


Reda Helal observed in leading pro-government Al Ahram (6/26):  “At the World Economic Forum conference in Jordan...Arab officials surrounded the American ruler in Iraq Bremer and met with Israeli officials under American sponsorship....  The irony is Bremer was present, not as a member of the American delegation, but as a representative of Iraq....  Arabs did not propose an alternative on the Iraq issue.  The same thing happened with Israel, when they came back ‘rushing’ to...normalization...and establishing communication offices.  Arabs were quick, too, to support Bush’s vision of peace in the roadmap and Bush’s initiative for a free trade zone with the Middle East....  Reality shows America rules Arab countries.”


“Policy Dominates Davos Conference”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram editorialized (6/24):  “Political issues dominated the work of the Davos Forum....  What is new this time is that all participants agree on the desire to put a rapid end to political groups and to insist on resolving political tension so as to pave the way for an economic role in achieving peace, stability, and welfare for all parties.  This collective desire should be translated into real action on the ground by resolving the Palestinian and Iraqi issues and by determining the future of Arab-American relations.  Otherwise, this state of zeal about improving the region’s economic condition will fade....  A free trade area between the U.S. and Arab countries will be difficult to achieve in light of the tension in the political relationship and the subservience of the American Administration to the viewpoint of the hawks.”




Leading pro-government Al Ahram Editor-in-chief Ibrahim Nafie wrote (6/24):  “The Davos Forum conference in Jordan is one of the most dangerous of the Forum’s history.  It was not held simply to exchange global economic views, but to form a new political settlement....  This means global superpowers must realize there no one party is absolutely strong and no other party, indefinitely helpless.  Recent years have proven armed Israeli occupation could not bring about final victory over Palestinians who did not succumb to terror or isolation.”


JORDAN:  "Arab Politics And Economics Must Move Forward Together"


Rami G. Khouri argued in the centrist, independent English-language Jordan Times (6/25):  "The three-day meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), that just took place in Jordan, brought together some of the most dynamic businesspeople and technocrats in the Arab world who interacted with their counterparts from the Western world in total ease and mutual respect. The gathering was a powerful reminder of the human talent that exists throughout our region; it also highlighted a weakness of the contemporary Arab world--those talented Arabs who enter into public service remain totally unsubjected to any serious process of local political accountability....  This is due almost totally to the lack of any serious and credible political life in every Arab country, without exception. Many go through the form and motions of politics...but no Arab country has yet dared to push political reform to the point where it achieves two cardinal dimensions of a credible political culture: allowing the majority in society to express its political will, and providing opportunities for majorities to peacefully change incumbent governments....  Turkey and Israel remain the region's closest examples of a credible political culture (though Turkey remains peculiarly comfortable with the military's role as ultimate political legitimator, and Israel is democratic for its Jewish citizens, but colonial and racist for its Palestinian Arab citizens and occupied subjects)....  We continue to witness an Arab order that is defined by two very contradictory trends: an awareness of the need to open up our economy without limits, alongside a much weaker willingness to open up political systems just enough to defuse tensions, but not enough to allow the citizenry's majority will to bring about real changes....  Arab political regimes that liberalise just enough to defuse domestic tension but never achieve full political freedom and credibility will never get out of this cycle. They will only manage frustrated citizenry in perpetuity. The young business and political leaders who have livened up the Arab scene have understood the importance of opening up their economies, and they must move much faster towards understanding the parallel need to open up their political systems with equal sincerity and magnitude."


"Keep The Momentum"


The centrist, independent English-language Jordan Times editorialized (6/25):  "Given the impressive outcome of the Dead Sea WEF, it is ironic and symbolic as well that the Dead Sea has turned into a body of water full of life and hope not only for the peoples of the area but also to the rest of humankind.  When there is peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East, especially in the war-torn areas of Palestine and Iraq, the rest of humanity stands to profit as well. The decision of His Majesty King Abdullah to invite and host such a large gathering of imminent statespeople and business leaders at the shores of the Dead Sea in the middle of the summer is an achievement in itself.  In this process Jordan succeeded not only in putting itself at the centre of international diplomacy and economic cooperation but also drew the attention of the participants to the very heart of the Middle East conflicts. Throughout the three days of workshops, discussion sessions, working lunches and addresses, participants kept remarking about King Abdullah's courage. They pointed to his courage in his determination to forge peace for the region, his courage to tackle traditional institutions and bring about modern socio-economic and political reforms and his courage to do what so many kept saying can't be done.  He showed Jordan to be a country with a message and indispensable to the Arab-Israeli peace process and to helping rebuild Iraq. Now that the WEF has ended, it is time to digest its results and followup on the important decisions taken, lest they fall through the cracks. Let's keep up the momentum of success."


LEBANON:  "Davos In Jordan: Horizons And Limits"


Shafeeq Ghabra contended in the English-language moderate Daily Star  (6/24):  "For the first time in the history of the Davos forum, the gathering is being convened in the Middle East.  Held at the Dead Sea, Davos focuses on the relationship between Islamic countries and the rest of the world....  Davos Jordan is marked by a lot of controversy and variety....  Both the Iraqi and Palestinian issues, the reconstruction of Iraq and its stability on one hand and the Israeli-Palestinian 'roadmap' on the other, have attracted a lot of attention and focus. But issues of openness, reform, renewal, transparency, rights and law have prevailed....  Would reality move closer to the dream of a fair peace? It was not a coincidence that Davos convened in Jordan. The kingdom is striving to establish its role on many levels. Jordan is dealing very seriously with the 'regime change' in Iraq and the revival of the peace process. It wants to turn into a gateway for the reconstruction of Iraq, reform in the region, and positive political and commercial relations....  Is the convening of Davos in Jordan and a large gathering of Arabs a sign of a new phase? Have we entered the phase of globalization or have we started feeling its consequences? Didn’t we strive for globalization in the 1990s before failures then accumulated? The momentum at the forum speaks for itself. When the president of the forum asked thousands of people about the extent of the need for reform in the Arab world, more than 70 percent answered through a remote polling system that the need was urgent and pressing now....  The building of Arab countries which promote people’s rights, the transparency of politics and economics, is a long path that Arabs have not crossed yet."


“The Dead Sea: They Only Waited For Paul Bremer”


Ali Hamade observed in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (6/24):  “Near the Dead Sea, politics dominated economics....  It is no exaggeration to say that everyone was waiting for two prominent guests: Secretary Powell And Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq.  In fact, Bremer was even more under the limelight than Powell.  Hundreds waited to listen to what he had to say about Iraq particularly about investment horizons and markets....  The issue of Iraq was given top billing.  One would have thought that the Israeli Foreign Minister should have been able to steal some of the limelight, however, he could not because he did not bring anything new with him....  In any case, had the war on Iraq not taken place, all those people would not have come to the Dead Sea, and the Syrians would not have violated their decision to boycott all meetings where Israel is present--by the way--as usual they forgot to inform the Lebanese about their decision to attend the Economic Forum in Jordan and left them behind.”


MOROCCO:  “Economic Development Is The Key To Peace In The Middle East”


Semi-official French-language Le Matin opined (6/25):  “During the World Economic Forum (WEF), King Abdullah of Jordan, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and ministers of several Arab countries met to discuss the creation of a free trade zone.  This zone, which would be established by 2013, hopes to reinforce chances for a stable peace between Israel and its neighbors....  Colin Powell underlined that economic development is a priority for Americans in the reconstruction of Iraq but that this was not moving forward because of security problems.”


OMAN:  "Free Trade Plan"


Semi-independent, English-language Times Of Oman editorialized (6/25):  "The World Economic Forum conference...was perhaps noted more for the proposal of a US-Middle East free trade area than for any other issues....  This economic spitball thrown up by the US is certainly far-reaching in its scope because far from being a trade measure, it should be viewed as something which could transmogrify the whole region....  Opponents would, of course, argue that it is a US gambit to make the whole region its satellite....  President Bush had originally called for such a trade arrangement to come into effect by 2013 as part of a bid to secure a 'permanent' end to Arab-Israeli hostilities. Unfortunately, the latter goal does not seem to be as black and white as Bush makes it out to be. The fact is that the US bid to connect the Middle East peace, which is a far cry now, with the Mefta is a shade far-fetched. Which is why there are bound to be doubts as to the real motive behind this free trade plan....  The roadmap to a full-fledged Mefta...would be a step-by-step process that would culminate by combining states reaching bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with Washington into a single, regional accord. Of course, this is open to those countries which have a good relationship with the US.  What one does not twig is how can this be linked to the efforts to make peace between the Arabs and Israel. The proposal would perhaps have made sense if it were put forward after the withdrawal of the Israelis from the occupied Palestinian areas. It is hard to visualise a scenario where there is normal trade exchanges between Arabs and an occupying power. What the US must do urgently is to make the roadmap for peace a success by persuading its ally, Israel, to quit the occupied land with dispatch. Many things, however ambitious they are, are possible once this has been achieved."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Lack Of Middle East Peace"


Riyadh’s English-language moderate Riyadh Daily declared (6/26):  "There has been an American Middle East proposal for linking the Arab and Israeli economies with the American economy....  For sure, America will not accept any country as member before that country recognizes the Jewish state.  Though we believe that globalization is based on open economies between nations, we also know that Israel is thwarting any positive step towards peace in the region....  The American strategy is aimed at keeping away the Arabs from Europe and making them followers of America and this is not in the interests of the Arabs.  A balanced policy is one that will liberate us from a long subordination to America and not hold us hostage to the economy of one country, which along with Israel, wants to have control over our economies."


"Enough Hospitality"


The pro-government English-language Riyadh Daily held (6/24):  "We know that the offices of Palestinian security men were attacked by Israel and their documents were stolen. These practices were pre-planned, so as to derail the Road Map. The hospitality of the Arabs should be something of the past, as the present time is the time for challenges and achievements and not speeches and closed door or open sessions that only add to our political and moral losses. Why do international conferences succeed when held in the Arab world and our Islamic, Arab League, GCC and Arab Maghreb union conferences fail at the same venue? It is because we are hospitable with our masters and weak before ourselves and our Muslim and Arab brethren."


"The Assassinations Approach And Settlements"


Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (6/24):  "Among the attendees of the World Economic Forum meeting, are members of the Quartet Committee, which participated in developing and preparing the roadmap. There is no doubt that those members have listened to Israel's statements inside the Forum and to its crimes in the Palestinian territories. Those countries are required to adopt a more rational approach, if they are really interested to help the region, through paving the way for the peace settlement. They have to watch the way that Israel wants the peace to be settled in the region, and adopt the appropriate mechanism to return the countries in the right track." 


 "The Political-Economic Forum"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan declared (6/23):  "Once again, an economic forum has been transformed into a political arena where historical disputes dominate the discussions.  This begs the question, who serves whom? Does politics serve economic interests?  Or is it the other way round?  The economic forum was an opportunity to debate hot political issues that have direct impact on the economy....  The forum will remain a field where problems are presented and discussions take place, but it will not resolve anything.  Political issues are normally discussed behind closed doors in the big capitals.  We do not think that Israelis meeting with Arab delegations at the Dead Sea forum will be of any good to the Palestinians.  On the contrary, it may prove harmful to their cause.  When are we going to have solid united Arab positions in every forum or summit, whether they be political or economic?"


TUNISIA:  “The Creation Of A Free-Trade Zone In The Middle East: Reluctance”


Abdelmajid Chorfi maintained in independent French-language Le Quotidien (6/27):  “Americans try to convince the Arabs of the idea of a free-trade zone. The idea in itself is not to be rejected, but the obstacles are large. Hence, there is apprehension in the concerned persons. Are these apprehensions justified?....  Could we move forward in the path of regional reconstruction as long as Israel is trying hard to abort any initiative aiming to put an end to the conflict? In other words, all kinds of attempts to get around the Palestinian tragedy will result sooner or later in the failure of the implementation of a free-trade zone, beneficial to all.  Be that as it may, beyond all these very legitimate apprehensions, it is in the Arab countries’ interests not to withdraw into themselves. They should not miss this opportunity to be open and at the same time be vigilant by guarding their most important attributes of their personalities and their knowledge.  At the same time, it is in the interests of the developed nations to contribute to the establishment of a climate that makes the Arab countries confident and totally reduces the hegemonic aims of Tel-Aviv.”


“World Economic Forum: Help Yourself”


Abdelhamid Haouachi commented in independent French-language Le Quotidien (6/25):  “The last session of the World Economic Forum organized in Jordan has come up with an American offer of setting a free trade zone between the U.S. and the Middle East.  This American gift is directed at a community that is up to now unable to create an inter-Arab free trade zone....  Is it true that Arab countries are in a real financial need to start any kind of development project?  If it is the case, where are the astronomical amounts of oil income money going?   We are not revealing a secret if we say that a big part of this income is used for individual consummation to the detriment of productive consummation....  Moreover the leak of Arab capital and their placement in international banks and financial organizations provokes a hemorrhage that seriously weakens the productive sectors....  On the other hand if Arabs were able to guarantee good management and self-financing of their projects by using their natural wealth, it would be better for them to think about creating an inter-Arab free trade zone before turning to trade with the U.S.  At the end what does a free trade zone with an economic giant like the U.S. mean to the Arab countries? Is it possible to imagine a fair partnership within the framework of the international division of employment seen today?”


“Road Map...To Subjugate The World!” 


A commentary by Abdelhamid Riahi in independent Arabic-language Ash-Shourouq stated (6/24):  “The UN possesses a moral power supposed not to be shared by any state, whatever power and fierceness it has...because the voice of the international community remains stronger than any military arsenal....  Hence, the UN Secretary General is supposed to have enough power and legitimacy to allow him to face openly and frankly any country in order to protect the credibility of the organization.  In particular when the issue is clear, as is the case of the U.S. that recognizes the fact of its colonization to Iraq.  During the World Economic Forum meeting, the UN Secretary General chose to deal with Iraqi colonization in a different angle that confers the missing legitimacy to the American occupation to Iraq...and this by asking for a ‘Road Map’ following the model of the ‘Road Map’ offered to solve the Palestinian issue....  The UN Secretary General should have instead asked for the U.S. withdrawal and for an immediate control of Iraq by the Iraqis....  We expected the Secretary General to revolt against Mr. Brehmer, the head of the colonizing presence, as a representative of Iraq in the forum. We expected that, at least, he would keep quiet and not give the colonization the required legitimacy to loot the Iraqi wealth and to jeopardize its people’s future...and give an opportunity to a country that looks to control the world and which may come up with a ‘Road Map’ to reform to UN and another one to subjugate the world.”  


“Opportunities For Peace”


Kamel Ben Younes commented in independent Arabic-language As-Sabah (6/24):  “The Israeli scenario of destruction and killing in the Occupied Territories continue to take place....  These negative developments are in contradiction with Sharon government’s promises as well as the American and European guarantee to stop the suffering of the Palestinians....  These negative developments should not hide the new important factors that are proposed on the particular what was announced by the American Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Quartet during the World Economic Forum. These declarations included clear criticism of the Israeli colonizing forces and the assassination of Palestinian leaders, including Hamas leaders. This criticism came after President Bush’s first declaration in which he criticized the assassination attempt of Abdelaziz Rantissi, one of the political leaders of the Palestinian resistance.  The criticism by Secstate Powell and the Quartet of Israel is considered as a positive development that should be exploited by the Arab countries and the peace supporters in the world...such as the “Road Map” that was supported in Sharm Al-Sheikh and Aqaba and then at the World Economic Forum, noting that there should be a general agreement that there will be no peace in Palestine and in the whole region without the settling of an independent Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as a capital.  The World Economic Forum declaration should definitely be implemented by Washington and its allies....  It may be beneficial to use the media to talk about the Israeli violation of the Palestinian human rights, but we should know that the pragmatic policy necessitates that we benefit from the positive aspects and from the peace opportunities even if they are limited.”


UAE:  "Politics First, Then Economics"


Popular, pro-government English-language Gulf News said (6/23):  "It was no surprise that the politics of the Middle East took over from economic development as the focus of the World Economic Forum....  The political turmoil in the region has got dramatically worse in the past few weeks, as events in central Iraq have become more confrontational, and the Israeli attack on the Hamas leadership triggered serious renewed violence.  The Forum has heard some encouraging words, but the mood in the Middle East needs a lot more than words. Paul Bremer has said he will appoint an interim administration next month, and that he will consult with Iraqi leaders over the formation of a council. But he stressed that ultimate authority will rest with the US-led coalition until an elected government has been installed, which he thought would take as long as two years.  The lack of planning from the coalition forces, and the lack of accountability for this failure, is a serious cause for political uncertainty in the Middle East. Until Iraq has a clear political future, it will not be able to develop its economy. The Amman summit has at least helped drive this basic point home.  The Iraqis need to be more involved in their own future....  While the coalition forces in Iraq are doing a valuable job, they should not slip into becoming Iraq's major problem, and a focus for continuing violence."


"The Burial Of The Middle East Economic Project"  


Ibn Al-Deira wrote in Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al-Khaleej (6/21):  "The Davos international economic forum convenes at this time in an Arab country on the banks of the Dead Sea, following Israeli expansionist policies' freeze of all economic meetings of this nature during the last six years....  What's new about this exceptional meeting on the Dead Sea is that the promoter of this initiative is not Shimon Peres but the American president George Bush, who is drowning in Iraq's shifting sands, and who is lost in the narrow streets of a confusing map for a road towards peace in Palestine.  The objective conditions for the success of any economic project in the Middle East continue to be absent and buried beneath Palestinian ashes and bodies destroyed by Sharon's tanks and planes....  The Arab citizen does not need anyone to provoke him against U.S. policies in the Middle East.  Sharon is capable of doing so, and dreaming of economic conferences will do no good for the Dead Sea meeting.  The roots of terrorism lie in the occupation."


"Eye On Jordan Summit"


Dubai-based English-language Khaleej Times editorialized (6/21):  "Dubai's drive for excellence in business has been bringing a good name as well as benefits to the Middle East as a whole. With the region awakening to the importance of stability and liberalisation, Dubai's accomplishments in a region beset with political and socio-economic problems is becoming all the more prominent. There are many theories about what has not gone right in the Arab world, but most experts agree on one thing: that Dubai is playing a stellar role in inspiring a fresh approach in regional thinking....  One look at the main sponsors of the World Economic Forum's Global Summit of Peace and Reconciliation starting today in Jordan gives an idea of where Dubai is headed....  It is only natural for Dubai, which sees itself as a 'genuine world city' in the region, to support the Forum with such enthusiasm....  Dubai has taken the lead in the region in addressing the fact that foreign direct investment is essential for jumpstarting development in the Arab world. It is against this backdrop that the WEF summit in Jordan, being held only for the second time outside Davos, assumes its real signficance. Its theme--'Visions for a shared future'--is symbolic as the international community looks for a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict. But it is also a pointer to the burgeoning international commercial interest in the region beyond the oil sector. With luck, the summit will foster synergy among the participating nations and, for good measure, pave the way for peace, reconciliation and prosperity."




ARGENTINA:  "Economy:  A Bet On 'Sustainable Peace'"


Juan Castro Olivera stated in daily-of-record La Nacion (6/22):  "Amid post-war tension in Iraq and a traumatic peace process between Israelis and Palestinians that did not stop violence, world economic leaders have made their bet for development and investment to become the best attraction to solve the conflicts in the Middle East. This is the goal of the unusual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Jordan under the premise of attempting to 'replace confrontation by cooperation' in the Arab world and Israel....  According to a WEF opinion survey performed before the summit, 66 per cent of Israelis and 69 per cent of Palestinians surveyed agreed 'there cannot be real economic growth or prosperity without peace.' The needs for clear regulation frameworks in countries with little democratic tradition and a safe environment for investment in a region under constant terrorist threat are perhaps the greatest challenges to be discussed by economic leaders in Jordan....  This group of Muslim countries could take the first steps toward a common market in the Middle East, and a ten-year trade deal proposed by the US which is still under discussion among the governments of the region."


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