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Arab, European and Asian media observers agreed that Arab leaders used Secretary of State Colin Powell's initial tour of the Middle East to inform him that their regional security priorities were the reverse of Washington's. In their view, stalled peace negotiations were more of a threat to the region than Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. Arab and Asian writers, for the most part, endorsed that view. Some Arab and European editorialists, unlike their Israeli counterparts, expressed concern that Mr. Powell's departure from the previous administration's immersion in "the details" of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations signaled the "marginalization" of the conflict. Those who feared such marginalization, asserted that it was vital for the U.S. to resume a pro-active role in the Arab-Israeli dispute. Highlights follow:
MIDEAST POLICY 'UNPOPULAR AS NEVER BEFORE' AMONG ARABS: Arab editorialists were universally critical that Secretary Powell "didn't come to discuss the Palestinian issue; but rather to rally support for the war to destroy Iraq." The secretary was accused of trying to "mobilize Arab states against Iraq" while "leaving the peace process a hostage in General Sharon's hands." Writers took special exception to "Powell's words that the Iraqi lethal weapons are a threat to Egyptian children," contending instead that it is "Palestinian children that are torn to shreds every day by American-Israeli weapons." A headline in Jordan's independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm illustrated the gulf between Secretary Powell's agenda and Arab public opinion: "Iraq is not an enemy--Israel is the enemy in the region."
TAKE NEGOTIATIONS OFF 'THE BACK BURNER': Many Arab commentators contended that Secretary Powell "was not seriously interested in making progress...on the peace talks." Palestinian, Egyptian and European voices were in the forefront of those calling on the Bush administration to take a more pro-active role in reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks. According to one Palestinian paper: "The U.S. bears full responsibility for the peace process...since it prevented the international community and the UN from playing an effective role in the process." A writer in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf argued that "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [as opposed to Iraq] should be of prime importance for Washington" because "the situation around Jerusalem is more explosive."
SHARON-POWELL CHEMISTRY: Israeli opinion pieces sifted reports on the secretary's first meetings with Prime Minister-Elect Sharon for clues to the tenor of future Washington-Tel Aviv relations. Tel Aviv's independent Ha'aretz noted that "Powell extended official invitations to Sharon and the heads of Arab states to visit the White House...but noticeably avoided making the same offer to Arafat." Another Ha'aretz column observed that the secretary didn't "dispute Sharon's cardinal policy-strategic assumptions" and that "Sharon...indicated willingness to take some measures to alleviate economic hardship in the PA," providing some reason to expect that the Likud veteran would begin his term amid cordial relations with Washington.
EDITOR: Stephen Thibeault
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 64 reports from 25 countries, February 24-28, 2001. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
ISRAEL: "Powell's Message"
Independent Ha'aretz editorialized (2/28): "A close look at Powell's public statements and reports on the talks he held with Israeli and Palestinian officials do not suggest that the Bush administration is keen to impose any sort of solution on the two sides. Powell did not offer the mediating services of the United States to Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon, or to Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat.... Instead of delving into the details of negotiations for a final status agreement, or proposing a new mechanism for dialogue toward implementing the interim agreements, Powell suggested to the Israelis and Palestinians he met to concentrate on measures which would result in restoring calm and preventing further violence.... The fact that Powell extended official invitations to Sharon and the heads of Arab states to visit the White House in the near future, but noticeably avoided making the same offer to Arafat, can also be seen as a hint at changes in American policy in the Middle East.... At this stage it appears the Bush administration will not rush to adopt the same modus operandi as its predecessor. To prevent any further escalation of the violence, the two sides will have to handle the crises between them on their own and seek ways to return to the path of dialogue, without active American mediation. This appears to have been Powell's message."
"Sharon Shows Powell His Practical Side"
Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in independent Ha'aretz (2/26): "Powell doesn't dispute Sharon's cardinal policy-strategic assumptions.... Yet, in trying to revive an anti-Iraq coalition in the Arab world, Powell has stumbled. The Israel-Palestinian conflict dominates local attention, and Arab leaders are demanding that the United States first keep Israel in line, before anything is done concerning Iraq.... Meeting with Powell, Sharon displayed understanding of Palestinian economic woes, and indicated willingness to take some measures to alleviate hardship in the P.A. Yet, lurking behind such displays of openness are Sharon's familiar hard line positions regarding land and settlements."
Avraham Tirosh stated in popular, pluralist Maariv (2/26): "It must be assumed that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was rather worried by his meeting with [IDF] Chief of Staff [Shaul Mofaz] on Saturday. Mofaz disclosed to Powell forecasts of a grave military deterioration in the territories, in Israel and at the northern border, which could cause a regional flare-up. As serious as such an assessment can be in itself, the Bush Administration views it as much graver, because it could foil all U.S. plans on the Iraqi front.... Powell's talks in the region have made it clear to the United States that the Israeli-Palestinian issue and the Iraqi problem are interconnected and that it must maneuver carefully and soundly between the two. Therefore, U.S. interests call for calm in the region, but also a balanced policy which won't cause Palestinians and Arabs to go up against it--this will be another difficulty for the new Government of Israel."
WEST BANK: "Powell Did Not Bring Any U.S. Initiatives"
Ahmad Majdalani opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (2/28): "It is clear that General Colin Powell did not bring any U.S. proposals or initiatives during his visit and meetings with the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership. Instead, this visit has only reaffirmed the American-Israeli common view with regards to the peace process. Specifically,
the Republican administration decided to cancel the Clinton's proposals and the commitment of the 'Barak-Sharon' government. This view is further reflected in the position of the American administration ahead of the formation of the new government under Sharon, which will present its program that will allow the American administration to determine and organize its efforts."
"According To Powell, Arab-Israeli Conflict Places Second To The Iraqi Issue"
Ali Khalili wrote in independent, moderate Al-Quds (2/28): "According to Powell's statement, the Arab-Israeli conflict comes second after the Iraqi issue, which tops the American priority list. The continuation of the intifada, on the other hand, has placed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a priority despite the new American administration view, which has considered the Palestinian issue as a secondary one. This means that Powell's strategy to marginalize the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in order 'to concentrate on Iraq' will not be achieved as long as the Intifada is going on."
Hafiz Barghouti opined in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (2/26): "The new U.S. Secretary of State did not bring anything new. He came with a predetermined mind that had adopted the Israeli positions. He didn't come to discuss the Palestinian issue; but rather to rally support for the war to destroy Iraq, to revive the allied forces, to provide Israel with an anti-missiles system, and to intimidate Arabs, regarding what he calls the danger of Iraq and its arsenal."
Independent, moderate Al-Quds editorialized (2/26): "Colin Powell called on Israel to lift the siege on the Palestinian territories and said that economic pressure would only lead to further deterioration in the situation and poison overall relations without restoring calm.... These remarks contain some encouraging signs, especially since they outline one of the major causes of the deterioration on the ground, namely, the Israeli siege and practices. But these remarks are not enough and do not reflect the active role that should be assumed by the United States in the peace process. The United States bears full responsibility for the peace process, especially since it prevented the international community and the United Nations from playing an effective role in the process."
"Powell's Tour: Marketing Sharon And Saddam's Blockade?"
Hani Al-Masri opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (2/27): "This tour demonstrates that the Bush administration did not formulate its position towards the role that it will be playing by taking into consideration the positions of the concerned parties and the failure of the Clinton administration at the Geneva Summit and the second Camp David summit."
"What Does The U.S. Want In The Middle East?"
Bassam Abu Sharif [Arafat's advisor] declared in independent, moderate Al-Quds (2/27): "We want the United States to defend its principles and we have no doubt that support for Israel is at odds with these principles. We want peace and at the same time we think that defending ourselves against occupation and its forces that are using your [U.S.] military arsenal against our unarmed people is the way to peace."
EGYPT: "Powell Sees, Hears The Unexpected"
Pro-government Al Ahram held (2/28): "When U.S. Secretary Powell left Damascus early yesterday...he must have seen and heard what he did not expect at the beginning of his tour. When he came, two major things happened: The Bush administration announced canceling the application of Clinton's proposals for settling the Palestinian-Israeli dispute and even repeated the Israeli demand to stop Palestinian violence.... The British-American raid on Iraq was described as routine.... But once he arrived in Cairo, he heard from Egyptian officials that Iraq does not threaten Egypt or the region, but the real threat is stopping the peace process.... Powell heard in Saudi Arabia that the peace process is a priority for Saudi Arabia.... Syria, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan confirmed the need for the United States to retain its role in sponsoring the peace process and regaining its credibility in the region.... He heard from Arab leaders that the sanctions on Iraq have become unnecessary...and that the revision of sanctions does not acquit Iraq of implementing UN resolutions. The outcome of Powell's tour must contribute to the new American policy in the Middle East, or else Washington would be losing the bet with the people of the region and harming its interests."
"Arab Capitals Happy, Relieved, Scared And Worried About Powell's Message"
Salah Eddin Hafez wrote in pro-government Al Ahram (2/28): "Secretary Powell's mission focused on long range objectives, that is to inform Arab leaders that the Gulf security and oil are a priority in American policy.... The short-term aims of America's new strategy were in Powell's message to Arab capitals demanding them to be calm and patient until Sharon forms his government...and to give the new American administration a chance to form its new policy.... We know that many Arab capitals were happy and relieved with Powell's messages, but others were scared and worried. Definitely Gulf States were relieved with American assurances, but others were worried of the heightened tension following the military pressure on Iraq.... He certainly heard an Egyptian and Syrian rejection of continued sanctions on Iraq...a clear eagerness for Gulf security, and a clear opinion that the Arab-Israeli dispute is the main source of regional threat and the solution is achieving comprehensive and just peace.... Certainly he heard an overwhelming desire from Cairo and Damascus to tighten bilateral relations to achieve joint and balanced interests, without American intervention in their internal affairs.... Our humble advice to Arab leaders is that they should agree, not declare a theoretical statement, on a new specific strategy to face the probable outbreak of Israeli violence and tension.... We hope they advise their friends in Washington to break the blockade over the Iraqi people and collective punishment and humiliation.... We hope they convince their Iraqi colleagues to stop making provocative statements and acts against their neighbors.... We advise Arab leaders to determine now a strong Arab position on Washington while it is reformulating its policy in the region, before Israel and the Zionist lobby in the United States go to the new American administration. Then we will be left to cry over the huge Zionist influence on American administrations, while we fail to perform our simplest duty."
"The Man Who Lost His Shadow"
Pro-government Al Akhbar seethed (2/27): "Secretary Powell did not hesitate to show submission in Israel and stood solemnly, wearing the yarmulke before the alleged Jewish Holocaust memorial, and sat as a pupil with the new Israeli leadership, listening to their refusal to re-activate the American role in the peace process without a word. He even praised Sharon the killer and attacked Arafat with unwarranted harshness. However, the Powell housecat in Israel turned into a lion with Arabs when he confirmed without question that Iraq shall not be [freed from sanctions]."
"The General's Hallucinations"
Ahmed Hassan declared in pro-government Al Akhbar (2/27): "General Powell underrated the mentality of his listeners when he talked about Saddam Hussein as a threat against the children of Egypt and the children of the region. Egyptian Foreign Minister Moussa, the shrewd old diplomat, did right when he stopped him, confirming that Iraq does not threaten Egypt...but Israel does.... Strangely, the general contradicted himself in less than 48 hours when he stated on route to Kuwait that Saddam is nothing more than loud words and bubbles in the air.... The
general reached the peak of his depreciation of [Arab] brains when he declared innocently his surprise at Arab anger at the American shelling of Iraq. Had he expected Arabs to greet him with drums and dancing?"
"When Powell Wore The Yarmulke Of Injustice And Illogic"
Editor-in-chief Galal Dowidar observed in pro-government Al Akhbar (2/27): "Rejection of the American-British aggression on Iraq...is a natural expression of the Egyptian and Arab street position. However, what is unnatural was Secretary Powell's surprise over this reaction.... I wish Powell had employed his brain and moral values, the ones we know he has, in dealing with the Iraqi strike, although at the same time I hold the Iraqi regime responsible for giving the American war machine the opportunity.... It is strange that Powell, the secretary of state for the sole superpower, does not feel surprised at Israel's daily massacres of the unarmed Palestinian people. Is it not strange that Washington turns a blind eye to Israel's refusal to implement signed agreements while it carries out a policy of blockade and starvation against Palestinians?... The American secretary should answer many questions about the American policy double standards.... What kind of contradictions were there in his statements in Israel? He said that the peace talks cannot return to square one, but cannot be resumed from where they stopped. Is this comprehensible? The only credible statement he said...was that the American commitment toward Israel, the violator of human rights and international legitimacy, is as strong as stone."
"Egypt And Its Arab Nationalist Issues"
Cairo's pro-government Al Ahram editorialized (2/26): "Egypt has never agreed to harm the brotherly Iraqi people, but was eager to defend them despite differences. That is why Egypt's public opinion message to Secretary Powell was clear and frank...concerning the sanctions. He was driven to announce his understanding of the Egyptian dissatisfaction with the recent American strike on Iraq.... We hope Washington responds to the aspirations of the region's nations. In fact, the U.S. secretary of state has clearly realized that the policy of continuing the blockade is no longer acceptable among Arabs.... His visit to Cairo revealed to him clearly the dangers of Israel's continued repression and terrorism of the Palestinian people and its threats to the peaceful settlement and regional stability. Collin Powell realizes this perfectly."
"Collin Powell, The Preaching Devil"
Editor-in-chief Mustafa Bakry stated in independent weekly Al Osboa (2/26): "Powell came with fresh blackmail to achieve the United States' interest to destroy what is left of Iraqi infrastructure and military power in favor of Israel's expansion in the region."
JORDAN: "What The American Minister Said And The Arabs Did Not"
Samir Qattami wrote in semi-official, influential Al-Ra'i (2/27): "Colin Powell announced in Cairo, arrogantly and shamelessly, that his country would continue its raids on Iraq, to protect the children of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. He then went to Israel and affirmed his country's total and absolute bias in favor of Israel, making no reference to the Palestinian children that are torn to shreds every day by American-Israeli weapons. We wonder what he said in other Arab capitals, but we are certain that he gave his orders to stop all cooperation with Iraq and to pressure Arafat to stop the Intifada. We wonder if anyone dared ask him why the Arabs should do so. It is a shame that Arab capitals should welcome Colin Powell, when he is considered a war criminal in his own country by organizations representing victims of the Gulf War, who died or suffered disability from the use of depleted uranium."
"A Clear And Direct Message"
Bater Mohammad Ali Wardam wrote in center-left, influential Al-Dustour (2/27): "Colin Powell came to the region as an unsuccessful salesman, whose worn out wares are no longer marketable even with the use of pressure. In addition to his failure as a sales representative, Powell also showed himself to be a poor student, who did not do his homework. His surprise at the Arab anger against the Anglo-American raids on Iraq mean only that he does not understand the basics of Arab politics. It is this failure to do his homework that prompted Powell to say that Arafat has not changed his views for ten years, while Sharon has matured and gained depth. In the end, Powell failed to achieve his principal mission to reconstitute that Arab alliance against Iraq. As for resuming the peace talks, he was not seriously interested in making progress on that score. So he returns to Washington to learn how to become a better salesman."
"Iraq Is Not An Enemy--Israel Is The Enemy In The Region"
Taher Al-Adwan, chief editor of independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm, wrote (2/27): "The problem of the present American administration, like its predecessors, is that it compounds its total bias to Israel, with acts of political stupidity such as picking on some Arab countries and playing the policeman when dealing with Arabs in general. Some or all Arab regimes may feel the need to placate the United States either through fear or in the hope of economic assistance; but enmity continues to rise in the Arab street. Today the Arab peoples find very little to point to in the stock of Arab-American friendship."
"Powell And The Tour Of Achieving Israeli Interests"
Yaser Za'atreh wrote in center-left, influential Al-Dustour (2/26): "What we need to note here is the fact that the U.S. hardline policy against Iraq is meant to fulfill Israeli needs.... As for Washington's policy towards the peace process, that too perfectly implements what the lords of Tel Aviv wants."
"Colin Powell's Mission"
Fahd Fanek declared in semi-official, influential Arabic Al-Ra'i (2/26): "It is unfortunate that Colin Powell comes to the region loaded with stands and viewpoints that are contrary to Arab hopes and desires, be it in the Iraqi or the Palestinian issue."
KUWAIT: "Security First And Foremost"
Khaled Ahmed Al-Saleh wrote in independent Al-Watan (2/28): "Secretary Powell's messages pertaining to Kuwait during his press conferences in Egypt and Israel were firm and clear. The new American policy is based on the conviction that the Iraqi leadership represents a threat to the region's security.... If the new international policy aims at containing the Iraqi regime...then we have to exert all efforts to guarantee that the regime's rehabilitation does not take place without a clear security program that separates Kuwait and Iraq and undermines any attempt to jeopardize Kuwait's security."
"Saddam's Statement And Contradictions In The Region"
Turki Al-Azmi wrote in independent Al-Rai Al-Aam (2/26): "The current American-Israeli maneuvers in the Negev affirms America's support of Israel even under the new American administration. The new administration's path is a replica of its predecessor's, despite some beliefs that president Bush's new foreign policy on the Middle East would be different."
Mohammed Al-Qadiri presented this salutation in independent Al-Seyassah (2/25): "Welcome to President Bush Sr., Colin Powell, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, British MPs and welcome to Kuwait's friends from the United States. We shall never forget your just stand which condemned the enemy and liberated Kuwait."
LEBANON: "Outsmarting Sanctions"
Sahar Baasiri asked in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (2/27): "How can we explain prioritizing Iraq in Powell's tour as if there is no Arab-Israeli struggle and no continuing confrontations?... How can we explain Powell's words that the Iraqi lethal weapons are a threat to Egyptian children?... There is no doubt that Powell heard Arab criticism to the American policy on Iraq in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. For this reason he indicated in Damascus that they would be trying to modify sanctions to become...'smart sanctions.'... Contradiction between American and Arab priorities is great. Powell's tour has ended without issuing any clear American position on the Arab-Israeli struggle. However, there are two signs that do not carry good tidings: 1) There will be a long wait until the two parties would resume negotiations. 2) Powell found Ariel Sharon ready to reach an understanding while he found Arafat sticking to his old positions.... In the absence of a clear American position on the Israeli-Arab struggle, the Bush administration will find great difficulty in marketing its policy on Iraq."
"Powell And Sharon's Sanctions!!"
Mohamed Mashmoushi contended in Arab nationalist As-Safir (2/27): "American talk about the new inclination to impose 'smart sanctions' on Iraq means that the sanctions that were imposed during the last ten years were 'stupid sanctions.'... There is similar Israeli talk about maintaining 'sanctions' against the Palestinian people...until 'violence stops.'... There are no differences between Israel and American styles.... Washington wants to get its hands on the oil fortune in Iraq and the Gulf, and wants to strengthen its military presence in the region.... Israel has other aims, but uses the same style.... Powell tried to focus on what he claimed to be the Iraqi danger in the region.... However the real danger is Powell's description of the Israeli-American bilateral relations as 'rock-solid.' This means that the American-Arab relations are exactly the contrary."
"The 'Original Sin' In Powell's Tour"
Commercial, Christian tabloid Al-Anwar stated (2/27): "General Powell committed something similar to the 'original sin' when he tried to 'mobilize' Arab states against Iraq, and left the peace process a hostage in General Sharon's hand.... It appears that he was not able to change the positions of Arab states on Iraq. Arabs refused to consider Iraq 'dangerous.'"
SAUDI ARABIA: "Powell In The Middle East"
Riyadh-based, conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (2/25): "Saddam remains a political and security problem, but does not constitute a permanent threat as Israel does. Saddam, even taking into consideration the sources of his power, does not possess the durability of Israel, or its long animosity."
SYRIA: "Schemes Of Racists"
Government-owned Tishreen said (2/28): "Sharon has utilized the Anglo-American air strikes against Iraq to urge Powell to focus American-Israeli efforts against Iraq instead of reviving the peace process, which he considers silly.... Secretary Powell's statements do not encourage optimism. The American-Israeli alliance will continue and will be fully utilized to make Israel's
expansionist schemes a success. There is no indication that the U.S. administration will reconsider its policy in the region as long as the Arab solidarity remains elusive.... The United Sttes will reconsider its policies only when it notices a drastic inclination in the region towards reactivating Arab solidarity."
"Washington Is Required To Reconsider Its Policies"
Government-owned Tishreen editorialized (2/27): "We don't believe that Secretary Powell, who conducted 'Desert Storm,' doesn't know that UNSCOM inspectors have not left a single missile in Iraq or he doesn't know that Israel owns hundreds of nuclear warheads directed at Arab capitals that are not subject to international surveillance. How could he convince the Arabs that Israel's nuclear arsenal, its threats against Syria and Lebanon, and its continued settlements do not constitute a threat to the region, while Iraq does?... In the statement he made in Israel and the occupied territories, Powell put the slaughterer and the victim on equal footing; he equated Israel, heavily equipped with U.S. arms, and the Palestinian stone-throwers.... Secretary Powell...is required to reconsider the U.S. bias towards Israel and to revive the peace process by reinvigorating international resolutions. He is also required to reconsider the American siege against the Iraqi people. Otherwise American credibility in the region will fully collapse."
"Coolness Of The American Performance"
Ali Qasem commented in government-owned Al-Thawra (2/27): "What Powell offered in his visit didn't satisfy the minimum of Arab aspirations.... His assertion that he carried no definite ideas to revive the peace process confirmed that he came to market an American policy that cannot be digested or comprehended by the Arabs. It would be worse if this stand was in response to Sharon's call on the U.S. administration to stay aloof from the peace process. Israel didn't hide its satisfaction with the American stand.... If Americans are surprised by the great Arab anger, the Arabs are more surprised by the American stand that encourages disappointment given the tepid American performance in the peace process compared with the vigor of U.S. diplomacy on Iraq.... What is more surprising is the American disregard for Israeli threats against Arab countries."
A commentator in government-owned Al-Baath wrote (2/26): "We expected Secretary Powell's goals for this visit to focus on saving the peace process and correcting its course from the present impasse. However, it has become obvious that the purpose of the visit is to justify aggression against the Iraqi people and to ignore Israeli practices in the region."
"Powell's Visit and the Peace Terms of Reference"
Majed Mouawwad, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote (2/26): "Powell's warm statements reiterating the U.S. commitment to Israel is 'rock cold' and have diminished hopes of any possible change in U.S. policy. Thus, Israel is encouraged to persist in its policy of escalation... This confirms that there is no change in the U.S. double standard."
"Play Fair General Powell"
Mohamed Agha, a commentator in government-owned Syria Times wrote (2/26): "The attitude of the new U.S. Administration is disappointing, as it started with an unjustified air strike against Iraq. Furthermore, Secretary Powell's statements before and during his Mideast tour have showed that Washington is seeking to muster efforts and ranks against Iraq, while Israel is still occupying Arab lands and practicing all kinds of acts of killing and terror.... Washington should play fair."
TUNISIA: "A Necessary Reconciliation To Confront Danger"
Senior editor Noureddine Hlaoui declared in independent, French-language Le Temps (2/25): "Unfortunately, recent declarations by Israeli leaders and the new Republican administration have confirmed our fear that the Israeli-Palestinian question will be put on the back burner by the Bush White House. The Bush administration is following outdated policies that give greater priority to Gulf issues, the anti-missile program and North Korea."
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: "Wake Up Or Pay The Price Of Pro-Israeli Bias"
Dubai-based Al-Bayan opined (2/25): "Instead of condemning Israel's brutal hostilities, so as to facilitate Powell's mission in the region, Washington overlooks and ignores Israeli violations and demands that the Arabs back its plan to tighten its grip on Iraq.... It seems that American policymakers have constantly missed historical opportunities to restore some confidence in Arab people and their rulers. Again, they fail to restrain Israel's ambitions. They should wake up before they pay the price of their blind bias towards Israel."
"No Longer Seeing Eye-To-Eye"
The Dubai-based, English-language Gulf News editorialized (2/25): "It is evident that the leadership in this part of the world no longer sees eye-to-eye with the United States on the misery ordinary Iraqis are being subjected to on a relentless basis.... Powell will have to listen on this tour of the region. He will need to become fully conversant with concerns of the Arab Gulf states and ensure that American and the region's policies continue to stay synchronized."
FRANCE: "Powell Faces Arabic Anger"
Jose Garcon wrote in left-of-center Liberation (2/26): "The secretary of State did not convince in the Middle East.... Ten years after the Gulf war and despite statements by the new American administration on its 'commitment to relaunch the peace process' in the Middle East, the Iraq case remains at the center of United States concerns.... Colin Powell seems to be coming back to Washington emptyhanded regarding Iraq and the peace process."
GERMANY: "Exploring Foreign Territories"
Heiko Flottau judged in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/27): "In Damascus, it is not Saddam, but Israeli Premier Sharon, who is seen as the enemy of the Arabs. This view will trigger a wholesome shock for Powell. The U.S. secretary of state will have to realize that American values are unpopular as never before in the region. From the Arab point of view, Saddam, the scoundrel, is being balanced out by his Israeli counterpart Sharon. In this way, Saddam's actions are being legitimized. And that is why Saddam can now be supported again, for example, by Syria. The American are powerless in the face of these facts. They cannot start bombing Syria as well. Hardly ever has the U.S. dilemma in the Middle East been more obvious: Colin Powell, one of the victors over Saddam and engineer of the isolation coalition, has become isolated himself."
"Not Bush's Job To Worry About Peace Process Details"
Right-of-center Frankfurter Neue Presse maintained (2/27): "When the United States bombed Iraq shortly before Secretary of State Powell's visit, the priorities were clear: the new Bush administration finds it more important to keep Saddam down than to follow Clinton's lead and put a lot of energy into a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. Arriving in the region with this kind of baggage, Powell was able to invoke feelings of 'good will,' but he could
not bring about a continuation of the peace talks. The Bush administration does not see it as its task to worry about the details of the peace process. This is an understandable attitude. After all, Clinton also did not achieve anything in the end, despite all of his efforts."
"Powell Has To Pick His Priorities"
Christoph Rabe commented in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (2/27): "If the United States wants to continue to play a significant role as mediator, it has to combine the different strands of its Middle East policy quickly and correctly. It appears as if the new U.S. administration is not yet sure how to approach this problem. This became most obvious during Powell's visit to Israel. The name 'Oslo' as a synonym for Israeli and Palestinian willingness to work for peace did not escape Powell's lips once. The U.S. government cannot take much time to adjust its goals. The country has to choose a clear position vis-à-vis Israel as well as the Palestinians, the Arabs, and finally Saddam. Only if the United States develops a convincing strategy can the country regain respect as a mediator for peace. And in this context, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be of prime importance for Washington. Saddam may remain dangerous and his actions have to be controlled. But the situation around Jerusalem is more explosive. Powell's foreign policy priorities should focus on this situation."
"Powell's Trip Between The Bombs"
Peter Muench argued in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/26): "To avoid current dangers, Secretary of State Colin Powell made clear that he only wanted to be advised and did not want to announce concrete decisions. At all seven stops, he will spread the message that the United States under President George W. Bush plans to play an 'important role' in the Middle East peace process. But, unfortunately, this role is a dual one which requires the main actor to change roles, since the Americans must act differently as an ally of Israel than in the Arab world where they search for friends in the anti-Saddam front.... Washington is now confronted with the conflict on which goals to pursue. In order to win the support of the Arab nations for a common policy against Saddam, it must disassociate itself a bit from Israel. That is the background of Powell's call to Israel to give up the blockade of the Palestinian territories 'as quickly as possible.' In Jerusalem, this statement will cause some concern about whether it can continue to rely on the great friend."
ITALY: "Powell Calls Arafat And Sharon To Order"
Guido Olimpio reported from Jerusalem in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/26): "The first brief visit by the U.S. Secretary of State to Israel and Palestine concluded with superficial results, since the priorities of the U.S. Administration at this time are of a different nature. George Bush is mainly interested in Iraq and its boss Saddam Hussein. The crisis with Iraq has projected its shadow over Jerusalem as well."
"Powell To Sharon: 'Halt To The Blockade Of The Territories'"
Leading, center-right opposition Il Giornale concluded in a report from Jerusalem (2/26): "Differences between the Israelis and the Palestinians remain unchanged. The U.S. Secretary of State does not seem to have succeeded in reducing the gap during his first interlocutory meetings with the two sides."
"Powell To The Arabs: 'Saddam Is A Threat'"
Guido Olimpio reported from Jerusalem in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/24): "Colin Powell has no doubts: 'Saddam Hussein represents a threat not only to the United States, but also to the children' of the Middle East. A good reason, according to Washington, to push the countries in the region to approve a tough line against the Iraqi dictator. But the Arabs do not agree with that: the Iraqi dictator is a hero. That is why, from Amman to the Israeli occupied territories, hundreds of people have marched in the streets against 'the killer of Iraqi children.' Opposing views that make the first visit to the region--and debut on the international scene--by the Secretary of State full of risks."
RUSSIA: "Arafat Appreciates Powell's Stand"
Vladislav Dunayev filed from San Francisco for centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2/28): "The new administration has stated that the United States should not take the initiative in a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians until the warring parties show a clear desire to renew the dialogue and come up with their own proposals on a settlement. Nonetheless, Powell...called upon both sides to reduce violence--a position of equidistance, which is known to have been appreciated by Arafat."
"Toppling Saddam Number One Priority"
Leonid Gankin commented in reformist, business-oriented Kommersant (2/27): "Toppling the Saddam Hussein regime is uppermost among the United States' priorities in the Middle East, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell. The chief of Desert Storm, touring the region, made it clear that he will not rest until it happens. Settling the current conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis comes second on his agenda. The pre-eminence of the Iraq issue has surprised many observers who expected the focus to be on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as it threatens to grow into a major war."
"Powell Dashes Israelis' Hopes"
Zakhar Gelman filed from Tel Aviv for reformist Vremya MN (2/27): "In Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy, where Powell arrived from Cairo on Saturday night, he had been expected to pay more attention to a peaceful settlement and bring new ideas and proposals. It is hard to get rid of the impression that, rather than trying again to solve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, Powell sought primarily to get Arab states to put more pressure on Iraq. The Israelis hoped to see Washington treat Arafat in about the same way it treats Hussein."
AUSTRIA: "Powell's Difficult Mission"
Senior foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer opined in liberal Der Standard (2/26): "The U.S. Iraq policy is in ruins. Powell is faced with the unrewarding task of having to explain to his Arab hosts that not Israel but Iraq is the enemy and there are indications that the next U.S. strike against Iraq is already in the making, trying to control Iraq's armament by military strikes."
BELGIUM: "No Illusions"
Foreign affairs writer Axel Buyse wrote in independent Catholic De Standaard (2/26): "What is most alarming to the Palestinian leadership is the signal that the Bush administration may reduce its mediating role in the conflict.... One of Powell's objectives for this visit to the region is to find a new consensus with America's allies to ward off the 'Iraqi Danger.' However, not only ordinary Arabs, but also Arab leaders have a growing problem with what they consider a policy of double standards: the ritual expression of American friendship with Israel--which the Arabs view as an aggressive and destabilizing factor--against Washington's irreconcilable position vis-à-vis Baghdad."
FINLAND: "Saddam Must Not Be Left Off The Hook"
Independent Aamulehti editorialized (2/27): "Even though Powell has already visited Egypt and
Israel, many Arab countries see his tour as an indication of a new point of emphasis in U.S. Middle East policy--that Washington places more importance on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and Persian Gulf oil than on the bloody conflict between Israel and the Arabs which has continued for half a century."
THE NETHERLANDS: "Magic Potion"
Influential, liberal De Volkskrant's U.S.-based correspondent Bert Lanting judged (2/28): "U.S. policy toward the Middle East is changing. Bush wants to shift the main focus from the Israeli-Palestinian problem to Iraq. But the American objective is still unclear.... Smart sanctions seem to be the magic potion Powell took with him on his trip to the Middle East.... Powell's main problem is that Saddam Hussein could decide not to cooperate.... Support for the UN sanctions was already diminishing and there are no indications that 'smart sanctions' will generate more enthusiasm in the Arab world.... The largest problem for the United States is that most of the Arab countries it is trying to gain support from regard America's ally Israel, not Iraq, as the largest threat to the region."
"Whirlwind Visit To Middle East"
Conservative De Telegraaf stated (2/26): "Powell called on Arafat to do more to stop the violence; and he called on Israel to end its economic blockade of the Palestinian territories. His strong criticism of Israel was softened by his remark that the relationship between Israel and the United States is 'unbreakable.'... Mr. Powell's whirlwind visit to the region shows that the new president, George W. Bush, is serious about foreign policy. Mr. Bush had given the impression that he was mostly interested in his own country."
ROMANIA: "A Tour For Clarifications"
Cristian Campeanu contended in opposition Romania Libera (2/27): "Colin Powell's trip is not important for its results, but for the clarifications it brings to the questions surrounding the Middle East policy of the new Republican administration. Powell repeatedly stated that he did not expect positive results as a follow up to his visits, and that he was not delivering a special message, or bringing an action plan with him.... With respect to Saddam, Colin Powell was not completely honest. He did not arrive in the area empty-handed.... The re-creation of the anti-Saddam coalition is one of the administration's foreign policy priorities."
SWEDEN: "Shivers Down The Spine"
Israel correspondent Cordelia Edvardso wrote in conservative Svenska Dagbladet (2/27): "Secretary of State Colin Powell's four-day trip to the Mideast apparently was long enough for him to discover the close connection between the U.S. strategy in Mideast, including its policy vis-a-vis Iraq, and the Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians.... But the leaders of the Arab states do not support the U.S. demand for a tougher policy against Iraq because they fear the anti-American sentiment among their citizens. From a U.S. point of view, the greatest concern is that the people in the Arab countries, all of them dictatorships, might take the Palestinian uprising in the occupied areas as a pretext and model to start an intifada of their own. This would not only be an act of sympathy with the Palestinians but also an uprising against their own rulers. This is a scenario which sends cold shivers down the spines of the Americans, whose overarching and all-encompassing goal in the Mideast is to create stability."
"Powell's Baggage Did Not Contain Much"
Social Democratic tabloid Aftonbladet observed (2/27): "Secretary of State Colin Powell's Mideast trip was supposed to be the first test of President Bush's foreign policy. But Powell came empty-handed and returned home after an unsuccessful visit.... (With regards to Iraq)
the Americans are acting as before, against the interest of the UN, but the difference now is that neither the Arabs nor the Europeans are lining up behind the American president and his London companion Tony Blair.... The fact that U.S. influence is being reduced makes it more important than ever that other and more broad-minded actors step in.... This part of the world needs more of the UN and the EU, and perhaps less of Bush and Powell."
CHINA: "Powell Runs Into Problems At Every Middle East Stop"
Wang Jianhua commented in Xinhua Daily Telegraph (2/28): "The primary task of Powell'sMiddle East trip is to plug the loopholes in sanctions on Iraq.... Powell has met with rejection at every stop on his trip. Just as a Syrian newspaper said, Powell demanded that all Arab nations be absolutely obedient to the United States on the Iraq issue, but did not even mention Israeli killings of Palestinians. This demonstrates that the new U.S. administration's bias in favor of Israel remains unchanged."
"After Powell's First Visit To Palestine And Israel"
Guan Juanjuan commented in official Central Legal and Political Commission Legal Daily (Fazhi Ribao, 2/27): "Powell's trip to the Middle East represents an adjustment in American policy towards the region. The main purpose of his visit is not to mediate between the Palestinians and Israelis, but to call on the Arab nations to continue supporting the containment of Iraq.... While urging the Palestinians and Israelis to end their violent conflicts, he did not forget to stress that the U.S. commitment to guarantee the security of Israel is rock-solid."
"Powell Gets Quick Lesson In Arab Mistrust"
The official, English-language China Daily noted (2/26): "On a Middle East mission to restore a broad front against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, U.S. Secretary of State Powell is quickly learning the depths of Arab mistrust of American motives.... Powell will find a sympathetic ear in Israel but that will not help much in the region as a whole."
"Powell's Middle East Trip Is Not An Easy One"
Zhu Xiaochao commented in official, second-largest, Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao, 2/25): "The two rounds of air strikes against Iraq have made Powell's Middle East visit very difficult.... On the one hand, Powell wants to convey through the visit, the Bush administration's attitude towards the Middle East, i.e. a 'free and easy' policy without too much involvement. On the other hand, he wants to dull the international censure of the U.S. government, which still intends to gain profits from the present situation in the Gulf region via the anti-Iraq alliance."
VIETNAM: "First Foreign Trip Full Of Contingencies"
Minh Tam remarked in army daily Quan Doi Nhan Dan (2/28): "The only thing easily discerned in Mr. Powell's Middle East visit is that the United States supports Sharon's policy aimed at reaching partial and short-term deals, rather than the comprehensive peace advocated by Barak and Clinton. The U.S. secretary of state's visit is the beginning of a new U.S. Mideast policy.... But...while the United States is working hard to rearrange the political chess board in the Middle East, it brazenly defies the public by launching air raids on Iraq."
INDIA: "Bush's 'Meddle East' Policy?"
The centrist Hindu's Bahrain correspondent Kesava Menon wrote (2/25): "In the current context especially, it is even more difficult for the Arabs to swallow the U.S. line that Saddam Hussein is the bogeyman.... Arabs are being killed every day, almost 400 in the last five months, by the United States' closest ally in the region Israel. Why should they castigate Saddam Hussein, the Arabs wonder, when the only regional force with known weapons of mass destruction capability kills Arabs at random while the United States cries that the security of Israel is its foremost consideration?... Small wonder that all Arab governments, with the singular exception of Kuwait, have expressed their disenchantment with U.S. policy on Iraq."
PAKISTAN: "Powell's Middle East Tour"
The center-right Nation asserted (2/27): "While Powell's tour can prove to be a useful initiative by the new administration to restart the stalled peace process, its success will largely depend upon how far Washington is prepared to push Tel Aviv to stick to the terms of the Oslo land-for-peace deal, also to rein in its trigger-happy troops.... There is no justification for the U.S. to kid-glove Israel at the cost of peace and stability of the whole region. Likewise, maintaining a stranglehold over Iraq, even when it has agreed in principle to comply with the UN resolutions,will not help in bringing durable peace to the region. Instead of resorting to strong-arm tactics, Washington would do well to give genuine diplomacy a chance."