|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|
In stark contrast to the unambiguous support in the early days of the anti-terrorism campaign, the Kingdom's media is now more negative.
The perception that the U.S. is unfairly targeting the Arab/Muslim world is pervasive.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the paramount concern; the Iraqi threat is, at most, hypothetical.
-- Despite Washington's disavowals, the anti-terror campaign is really a "clash of civilizations". More than a third of editorials argued that the campaign exclusively targets Arabs/Muslims. Some predicted that "the upcoming stages of Bush's war...will affect most Arab countries, with few...exceptions." This theme spiked after the State of the Union address. The speech itself was widely portrayed as confirming that the anti-terror campaign targeted the Islamic world, with the U.S. attempting to "mislead the world by adding North Korea" to the list of WMD threats. The conclusion: "Fighting terror and crushing the 'axis of evil' seems to have been reduced to a single hub"--Islam.
-- Washington has not sought to collaborate on a global definition of terrorism. A third of editorials criticized the anti-terror fight for being open-ended and too vague. The main argument was that the U.S. is coercing others to sign onto the effort while eschewing a consensus approach on defining international terrorism. Saudi writers likewise criticized what they saw as Washington's reluctance to articulate a well-thought-out strategy for combating global terrorism. The conclusion: The blind pursuit of "American Septembery justice" could string nations along "endlessly, draining resources but not leading to eradication of the scourge of terrorism." A corollary of this theme was that U.S. "unilateralist" behavior will stoke, not prevent, more "terror and the desire for revenge."
-- Washington's priorities are the reverse of the Arab world's. Slightly less than a third of editorials insisted that if the U.S. wants regional support for toppling Saddam Hussein, it must first make a credible push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. What editorialists found most offensive was the perception that the U.S. is disregarding the Arab world's explicit priority--ending PM Sharon's "aggression" in the occupied territories. In this context, U.S envoy Zinni's portfolio was considered merely an attempt to "sedate" Arab allies while VP Cheney lobbied for Arab leaders to sign off on a U.S. plan to effect a regime change in Iraq. The conclusion: A repeat of the unfulfilled 1990 quid pro quo regarding Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will engender more Arab "hatred" toward the U.S. A corollary to this theme was the belief that the U.S. seeks a perpetually weakened and destabilized Arab/Muslim world.
EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report is based on 45 reports from Saudi Arabia, Dec. 26 - March 20. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
SAUDI ARABIA: "Cheney's Security Mission"
London based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat ran a commentary by the paper's Riyadh bureau chief Dawood Al-Shiryan (3/20): "The U.S. vice president came on a security mission, not a political one. He has tried to compensate for his failure to enlist support against Iraq by enlisting support against the Palestinians."
"Annan Cheney And Palestine"
Riyadh-based, conservative Al-Riyadh (3/20): "Cheney came to the region to force the American view on us and attack Iraq. Arabs did not like his views and, in return, he refused to meet with Arafat. This is undiplomatic, arrogant behavior.... Arafat is the criminal but Israel is not in the typical American view.... Arabs are not interested in attacking Iraq. America has no right to change the map of the world.... America finds itself forced to take action, not out of sympathy for the Palestinian cause, but because of international criticism.... To peaceful nations, killers and victims are not the same."
"Signs Of Change From The U.S."
London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat held (3/19): "The issue is very clear to all: If the United States wants to launch a wide scale war against Iraq it must ensure complete calmness in Palestine.... But Dick Cheney must not assume that he can achieve something by merely meeting with the Palestinian leader or considering this meeting as if it were God's blessing to the Palestinian people. Washington committed a big mistake when it listened to Sharon's advice not to invite Arafat to the White House.... The Palestinians must not be deceived by such meetings unless they sense that the United States recognizes them as a nation and respects them as human beings."
"The Logic Of The Priorities"
London-based, pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat maintained (3/18): "After Dick Cheney's visits...we can say that he listened to two parallel opinions.... First, the Palestinian cause is the primary priority for the Arabs.... Second, the inter-Arab situation in 2002 is different from their situation in 1990. In 1990, the Arabs were facing Iraqi aggression, but in 2002 we cannot accuse Iraq of being a threat to any of its neighbors.... It is hard for the Arabs to find a reason to justify starting a campaign against another Arab country.... Washington has to avoid any possible clash between the priorities of the Arab world and its own priority (the war against terrorism). This (clash) would increase the feelings of hatred among the Arabs.... Quick expansion of the war under the banner 'War Against Terrorism' would harm U.S. interests and affect stability in the region."
"First Of All, Iraq"
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan carried a commentary by the paper's political editor Abdulkarim Abu-al-Naser (3/17): "President Bush's administration has dispatched Vice president Dick Cheney...to discuss the Iraqi problem with Arab leaders. It has also dispatched General Zinni with limited authority to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli problem.... The Iraqi problem, in the view of the Bush administration, is far more important than the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, for three main reasons. First, what President Bush's administration is currently trying to achieve is not to bring about a final solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but to achieve a secure truce.... Regarding Iraq, the U.S. administration wants to introduce a major change in its policy: to shift from containing the regime of Saddam Hussein...to toppling the regime and the rulers of Iraq. Second, the administration of President Bush believes that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will not constitute a threat to the U.S.' vital, strategic and security interests, that it can contain this conflict, and keep it from turning into an Arab-Israeli war or a major regional crisis.... Third, the international and regional atmosphere is now suitable for working toward removing Saddam Hussein's regime.... In addition, President Bush thinks it is easier to engage in a major confrontation with Saddam Hussein rather than to engage in any serious confrontation with Israel and Sharon's government. The removal of the Iraqi regime, if successful, will realize major gains for the U.S. and for its role and interests (in the region), while confrontation with Sharon will not necessarily bring peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The administration of President Bush would harvest nothing, except domestic (U.S.) problems and troubles."
The Jeddah-based, moderate Saudi Gazette held (3/17): "The ongoing U.S. war on terrorism is a spontaneous reaction to the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. Since the war is not being guided by a well thought-out strategy, it may continue endlessly, draining resources but not leading to eradication of the scourge of terrorism. This is why most of the Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, have been urging the U.S. to first clearly define terrorism and then chart out a clear international strategy to eliminate it. Washington has not shown any interest in these proposals and has left itself to be guided solely by emotions, insisting on enlarging the area of the war to all its adversaries--mostly in the Arab World.... Vice President Cheney, who is currently on an extensive tour of the Middle East to drum up support for the American plan for fresh air attacks against Iraq, has met resistance in every Arab capital he visited. This is not because the Iraqi attitude has changed, but due to the general perception that a new war
against Iraq will not serve the interests of the region and the Iraqi people."
"S.A. Rejects Using Its Territory For Attacks On Iraq, Or Any Islamic Or Arab Country"
Saudi dailies (3/17) highlighted the Cheney visit. Headlines follow: Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan: "The Crown Prince Informs Washington its Credibility in the Region Depends on Halting Israeli Aggression and the Set Up Of A Palestinian State." "Saudi Arabia Rejects The Use Of Its Territories In Attacks On Iraq Or Any Islamic Or Arab Country." "Riyadh Sees International Efforts To Compel Iraqi Compliance With (UN) Resolutions As Preferable To Military Action." London-based, pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "The Saudi Leadership Discussed With Cheney Palestinian Developments, Terror, and Iraq." "Crown Prince Abdullah: 'America Will Not Be Able To Overthrow Saddam.'" London based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat: "King Fahd and Cheney Discuss Israeli Escalations and U.S.-Saudi Cooperation." Jeddah-based, moderate Okaz: "The King and the Crown Prince Discuss With Cheney Israeli Aggression and the Saudi Initiative." Jeddah based, moderate Arab News: "Cheney Fails to Find Support for Iraq Attack."
"The Cheney Trade-off"
Jeddah-based, moderate Okaz ran this commentary by Saleh Al-Mani (3/16): "Vice President Cheney aims to gain support for a military campaign against Iraq. Ahead of the upcoming Beirut summit, Mr. Cheney hopes to gain total Arab support not limited to bilateral agreements, as in the U.S. campaign against Afghanistan.... All this creates a contradiction between the awareness of impending changes in the region, and the announcement of public approval of them, after the Sharonian war against the Palestinian people.... Clearly, the real perils facing the Arab peoples are the occupation and Israeli escalation, not Iraq. The Arabs' primary security concerns are different from those of the U.S. [For example] other Arab countries such as Syria and Lebanon may follow Iraq and Iran as primary targets of the U.S. administration, in order to abort the regional Arab political system.... Therefore, the purpose of Zinni's seeking a cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis is not to find a solution to the conflict and the current bloodshed. It is [instead] a move to prepare Arab public opinion for Cheney's visit and guarantee its success. It appears that Cheney's efforts are basically a trade-off of Palestine for Iraq. The U.S. administration's favor to the Arabs will be to lift the blockade on Arafat and to calm the military situation between Palestinians and Israelis. A cease-fire and resumed security meetings will buy time for Sharon and his government, but they are not the start of a real peace plan.... Serving Israeli interests, the U.S. and Israel want to calm the situation, rescuing and expanding the rule of Sharon's criminal government. Such discrepancies aim to weaken Arab political rule, and to realize complete U.S./Israeli ascendancy over Arab countries."
"Why Is The U.S. Moving Now? Zinni, Cheney Both To Visit The Region!"
Dammam based, moderate Al-Yaum held (3/10): "After a long absence, Cheney is back, as an envoy to the Middle East.... Washington is not concerned about the killing of the Palestinians or Sharon's terrorism, but with the unity of the International coalition against terrorism. Obviously, military operations in Afghanistan have taken a long time, and Washington wants more operations in Iraq, Somalia and others in the 'Axis of Evil.' This could fragment the international coalition against terrorism, and force Washington go it alone. This will not prove to be in America's best interest and would also be domestically embarrassing."
"Personalizing Crimes And Crisis"
Jeddah-based, conservative Al-Madina opined (3/10): "Among the features of [current] U.S. foreign policy, which was introduced by the administration of President George Bush, is a strong tendency toward limiting its focus on international crisis and problems to a single person or a group of persons. Elimination of that person or group's influence is the most important thing to the (U.S.) administration.... Limiting the confrontation with the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to his personal conduct and behavior makes the confrontation with Iraq very simple, merely eliminate him physically. It would be useless to pursue individuals and to eliminate them.... In addition, the current U.S. administration expects anyone who got his education or lived in the U.S. to turn into an American robot."
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan said (3/9): "We are apprehensive about Zinni's visit, which coincides with a tour by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in the region. Cheney is behind sending Zinni, after all, to sedate the Arabs and prepare for other plans he has in mind, including Iraq. There is also talk that the Americans are making proposals to end the hostilities between the Palestinian and the Israelis. These are merely bubbles. Saudi Arabia put forward a complete and comprehensive initiative. The Arabs should adopt this initiative and push it forward, then the Israelis and the Americans can choose to accept or reject it. Only then can the Arabs seek their strategic interests and make subsequent important decisions."
"Why The Return Of Zinni At This Particular Time?"
Jeddah-based, conservative Al-Madina held (3/9): "Is President Bush's sending Zinni to the Middle East a sign that the U.S. is finally convinced of the need to resume its role as an important peace broker after a long suspension?... Given the prior knowledge of the Israeli response to any American plan, what can the General do? These are the questions being posed with the nearing Arab summit and the U.S. Vice President's visible visit to twelve Arab countries-- coming amid expectations of a U.S. targeted strike on Iraq and unprecedented Israeli escalation of a truly genocidal war against the Palestinians. The statements coming from Bush, his Vice President, and his Secretary of State, affirm the U.S.' obvious primary concern: fighting terror and crushing the 'axis of evil' which now seems to have been reduced to a single hub. Paving the way for the Cheney tour, Zinni's visit, with its worn out security agenda, is merely an open attempt to put the violent cries in the West Bank back to bed.... Cheney's time will be freed up for more 'important' issues."
"We Also Have A List"
Abha based, moderate Al-Watan stated (3/5): "The Pentagon has removed Saudi Arabia from the list of countries that fight terrorism, this contradicts the positions of both President Bush and the State Department.... We no longer understand what the U.S. wants. The U.S. talks about terrorism, but has never given a specific definition for it. It is adding names to its list of countries that support terrorism and then crossing these names out.... Those who are behind the media campaign against Saudi Arabia should understand that we also have our list of countries that support terrorism, and we place Israel and Sharon on top of the list. Our list includes all of those who commit massacres of Palestinians...and we will continue to criticize all who do not support our fight against real terrorism."
"When The Majority Declines To Believe"
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, editor of London-based, pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat commented (3/5): "Why don't most of the Arabs and Muslims interviewed in their eight countries want to believe that those who had steered, directed and destroyed the airplanes in New York and Washington belonged to their kinfolk?.... (Among other reasons) Western information sources do not enjoy high credibility here even though the principles of Western journalism are far better, in respect to accuracy and honesty, than Arab journalism. The issue of mistrust is related to skepticism about the West rather than the stories themselves. Acceptable information sources for Arabs and Muslims usually do not include Western ones. Our media, with its doubting and skeptical mentality, has a heritage of previous eras of confrontation where it refused to believe or allow anyone to present facts that disagreed with its views. Therefore, it nourishes the minds of the majority of the people with an attitude with which attuned to ignoring correct information it receives from overseas."
"Are We Allowed To Criticize The Saudi Initiative?"
Editor Abdulrahman Al-Rashed wrote in London-based, pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (2/28): "Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative is our initiative as Arabs. It is clear, and it presents a real test for the Israelis, since it faces them with a big question: are they going to return the land, which is the core of the problem, or not? If they do, then peace will be possible, but if they refuse, peace for them will be impossible.... Let's listen to the justifications of those who oppose it. One of them said it was a trade [for consent] to strike Iraq! We ask him, when have the Arabs ever made such a trade on such issues? Another wrote that Gaza and the West Bank were not our [Arab] cause. Our answer is, although they don't concern those who say this, they do concern us. [These] opportunists are not concerned with the return of the land, or settlement of the refugee issue.... A third person said it [the Saudi initiative] undermines the Mitchell report and Tenet plan.... [But it is our initiative, and we should protect it without depriving anyone of the right to criticize, if his intentions are sincere and of general benefit."
"America Between Two Wars"
London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat editorialized (2/21): "During a White House meeting with Sharon, Bush announced the targeting of Islamic organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbollah, for the world to be more safe and peaceful.... Secretary Powell announced that the two main objectives for President Bush were to win the war against terrorism, and to protect Americans.... After half a century of clashes with Communism, neither peace nor security has been realized, but rather wars on all continents, and the war on terrorism is as bad as the others.... Americans do not see the full picture of the world; their views are blocked by a thick wall. This wall makes them view the Palestinians who resist occupation as terrorists and the Israelis in tanks as poor human beings.... No one cares about hunger, poverty, disease or the absence of schools."
"In Light Of Cheney Visit, Moment Of Truth With A Friend"
Abha based, moderate Al-Watan editorialized (2/19): "The coming visit of Vice President Cheney to the Middle East is...about mutual interests. But it seems that the U.S. only cares about its concerns, even if they harm its allies.... Early this week the Washington Post published three articles on U.S.-Saudi relations which pointed out that there is pressure from Arab allies for Washington to review its relationship with Israel. The U.S. media blames Saudi Arabia and Egypt for the September 11 attacks. But the U.S. has its share of the blame too. It encouraged Islamic fundamentalism during the cold war against the former Soviet Union.... It is fair to say that at least half of the blame is on former U.S. administrations. Adding Iran to the 'Axis of Evil' is another U.S. administration mistake.... Cheney's trip to the region requires coordination with our friend, the U.S. America should have taken action against what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories, this is why hatred has built so high.... We expect Mr. Cheney to take a brave stand as a friend and as an ally, and not put the blame only on others."
"Who Is With And Who Is Against The Attack On Iraq?"
Editor-in-chief Abdulrahman Al Rashed wrote in London-based, pan-Arab Al Sharq Al-Awsat (2/18): "Certainly the Arab governments, without exception, will refuse to attack Iraq...but most of them silently wish to get rid of its regime. Dick Cheney's visit to the region will be a turning point for the Iraqi regime. Most Arab officials will reject any military escalation against Iraq and will question the legality of the aggression.... But Iraq's refusal to accept international observers will be a legal motive [for the U.S.]) to wage war against it.... No one will be able to protect Iraq for the simple reason that the Iraqi system cannot protect itself. Iraq is unable to understand how to work at the political level.... Some Iraqi officials, who are known to be protectors of the regime, are themselves destroying their country. While the U.S. was discussing the Iraqi issue, the Iraqi Prime Minister stepped on a painting of Bush's face in front of the TV cameras to insult the U.S. Government. This is a strange and ridiculous action for a diplomatic representative, who really seems not to care about his country.... I am sure that nobody in the region wants to attack Iraq, but most of them want to get rid of the regime.... If Iraq wants to continue to exist, Baghdad must surrender, and become a civilian country with no military ambitions."
"Washington...The Magic And The Magician"
Jeddah based, conservative Al-Madina observed (2/18): "The upcoming stages for Bush's war are mostly in the Middle East. It will affect most Arab countries with few, if any, exceptions. But the American administration is careless when it comes to the results of its decisions. The United States might be the one to pay the price for its game. It is just possible that the 'magic' it employs could turn on the 'magician.'"
Hassan Tahsin declared in the Jeddah based, moderate Arab News (2/18): "The U.S. woke up to the need for combating terrorism only after it was proven that the U.S. soil too is vulnerable to international terrorism.... In the name of combating terrorism...the U.S. launched military operations against Afghanistan. The world's superpower launched a war against a country that lives below the poverty line.... Despite U.S. military might, Washington has failed to achieve its pronounced goals in Afghanistan. The U.S. may, however, have succeeded in achieving an undeclared objective--a presence in Central Asia. The hasty U.S. decisions and savage military operations in Afghanistan have frightened the international community.... The EU and the Arab states have expressed fears as to the negative fallout of U.S. actions. President Bush's 'axis of evil' speech has only heightened such fears. It looks as though a U.S. military attack against certain Arab states is imminent.... If the U.S. were to act unilaterally, no doubt that the coalition against terrorism would fall apart. The Europeans are clearly against fresh U.S. plans aimed at
Iran or Iraq.... Arab states without exception are against attacks against any Arab or Islamic state in the name of combating terrorism. Russia has also taken a firm stance.... China too views the U.S. moves as reckless.... Why didn't the U.S. take a tough stance against such radical terrorist groups as Bader Meinhof, the Japanese Red Army or the Ku Klux Klan? Or does the United States act only when the terror groups are from Arab and Muslim countries?... The Bush administration's arrogance and bad judgment has led to an increase in anti-American sentiment throughout the world. We hope that the American people will realize this fact and subsequently force the administration to moderate its views."
"Recipe For Anarchy"
The Jeddah based, moderate Saudi Gazette editorialized (2/14): "Their democratic beliefs notwithstanding, American leaders today talk about changing the world in the way that suits them--not the rest of humanity and the Family of Man. They have regressed to nationalistic fervor which has always been a destructive force that produces megalomaniacs, dictators and war-mongers. President Bush stunned the world with his 'axis of evil' speech.... According to press reports, the U.S. has picked a former Iraqi chief of staff, General Nizar Khazraji, to replace Saddam Hussein.... To begin with, such plans do not mesh well with a nation committed to democracy. They send the message that America's obligation to democracy does not extend beyond its own borders.... Although the change might suit America's interests, it will surely increase the problems of the Iraqi people.... It is the right of a nation's people to choose their own rulers.... Americans would be equally concerned if some nation wanted to change their government in similar way."
"A Special American War"
Pan-Arab, influential Al-Hayat opined (2/14): "There is a prevailing concern in Gulf capitals about repeated American suggestions to target Iraq. The concern is about a new war to complete a war waged ten years ago but incomplete in its results.... This time the U.S. will not wait for an invitation. It seems alliance with the U.S. this time is not optional; it will be coercive and compulsory. There are no longer secrets; the objective is to topple the Iraqi regime, and not the return of international inspectors. Washington has become obsessed by the idea that the removal of the Taliban regime has paved the way for toppling other regimes. In the previous war there were lies, such as that the Iraqi army was the fourth largest army in the world. People believed it and it was useful in creating a suitable atmosphere for war. This time there is no need for lies.... The United States finds nothing in the current international system that deters it from (carrying out) its plans.... This war seems to Washington one which will decisively prove the possibility or effectiveness of engaging in wars to change regimes."
"Why Islamic Organizations Should File Suit Against U.S. Administration"
Assistant editor-in-chief, Osman Mirghani, wrote in London based, pan-Arab Al Sharq Al-Awsat, (2/13): "The Islamic and Arab countries, through the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference and the Islamic and Arab organizations in the United States, ought to collectively consider taking legal actions against the U.S. administration. The campaigns of the U.S. administration since 9/11 embody a form of racism targeting Arabs and Muslims.... What President Bush's administration is doing now is a unanimous condemnation of Muslims and Arabs, identifying them with terrorism and taking a faith followed by 1.2 billion people to task merely because a group of 19 extremists carried out an insane action, which was deplored by the entire world including the Islamic and Arab countries.... To assassinate a whole religion, and attack it by identifying it with terrorism, will only disseminate hate and create a breeding ground for more violence and hatch more terrorists.... It is true that we hear many U.S. administration officials, and in the West in general, confirming that the current campaign against terrorism does not target Muslims nor is it against Islam as a religion, but we need to see these statements and slogans translated into deeds.... How can we explain the searches and interrogations which targeted thousands of Muslims in the United States? How can we understand the monitoring and archiving of information about Arab and Muslim visa applicants? How can we justify racist monitoring of Muslim students in U.S. institutions and universities?"
"I Smell A U.S. Deception"
Abdullah Fawzan declared in Abha based, moderate Al-Watan (2/13): "If one wishes to learn the secret behind the U.S.' loaded threats against Iraq, Iran and Korea and possibly other Arab countries, it is important to be aware of what has happened in Palestine.... The threats shouldn't be taken at face value if one were to assume that matters could not be set straight in the event they were taken seriously.... Still, the threats aren't uttered in vain. They have an underlying intent, design and objective.... I smell a U.S. sham. In order for the Palestinian issue, currently cooking in an American pot on Israeli flames, to mature, it will be necessary to continue to involve all concerned factions."
"Rationality And Irrationality"
Bushara Nasar wrote in London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat (2/12): "It is nanve for Arabs or the countries of the 'evil axis' to believe that Europe's criticism of the United States will change America's understanding of the war against terrorism.... Although Iran cooperated with the United States in its war in Afghanistan, it was branded (nevertheless) as one of the 'evil axis' countries. Many still believe that they can benefit from cooperation with the United States against terrorism.... They have not yet realized that, after 9/11, a lot of information and cooperation must be granted (to the U.S.) for free."
"Axis Of Evil Vis-a-vis Axis Of Hegemony"
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan editorialized (2/12): "Washington has accused the axis of evil countries of sponsoring terrorism, that ugly word which we are tired of hearing so often recently. What is the link between Iran and Iraq, since their political systems are based on conflicting ideologies?... How can the United States convince the world that Tehran and Baghdad are related to Taliban terrorism? How did the U.S. find a common link between these two countries and North Korea...? Involving North Korea in this axis is no more than an attempt to deceive the Arab and Islamic world. That third party on top of the list is to mislead them so they miss the fact that this is really a clash of civilizations.... The alleged axis of evil is no more than a new game administrated by the axis of hegemony, the United States and Israel and joined by the UK singing outside of its European group."
"What Does America Want?"
Abdul Muhsain Hilal commented in Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan (2/12): "Following Sept.11, the U.S. has been struck by color blindness, declaring before the whole world there are only two colors, no other. White means you're with them while black means you're against them.... The gravity of this question strikes me as the U.S. incorporates its new mode of imposing its dominance over and interfering in the affairs of other countries, no longer employing its old repertoire of spreading democracy, defending the free world, and raising the banner of human rights.... Post-9/11 America becomes more shameless and audacious about what it wants. The U.S. gives you a list of demands to fight what it calls terrorism, which in the first place is targeted against the U.S., requiring that as a country or individual you stand to defend America even in the simplest terms. For example: refrain from the slightest criticism of the U.S. or avoid the mere notion of boycotting its products.... Today the dominant American 'Septembery' justice has nothing in front of it but the axis of evil, shoving North Korea's name in so that it won't appear to be targeting Arabs and Muslims. However, the mention of struggling organizations, such as Hamas, Jihad, Hezbollah, confirms suspicions."
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan editorialized (2/4): "All the countries of the world, including the Arab and Islamic countries, have condemned terrorism...and have called for combating it. They also stressed the necessity of distinguishing between terrorism and resistance.... It is unbearable...that every day since 9/11 we have heard threats [from the U.S.] under the banner of combating terrorism.... The U.S. has a list of terrorists to which it adds names and crosses out others whenever it wants. Sharon has been committing genocide under the same banner. Some spiteful Western countries are pursuing a war against Islam and Muslims also under that same banner--combating terrorism.... It really is a mistake not to read history, and so to predict what might happen in the future. If any country is subjected to injustice, it can do nothing other than defend itself.... Stop giving us lessons in civilization, humanity, and how to combat terrorism!"
"The Axis Of Evil"
Jeddah-based, conservative Al-Madina observed (2/4): "Yesterday, the Pentagon and White House quickly responded to European, Russian and Chinese unease over the war on terrorism saying that it would act alone if necessary in defense of the country. America's proposed plan for a world without terror is one that only spreads a greater number of terrorists around the world. Since terrorism is a side effect of fear and panic stemming from the feeling that one is under siege, the U.S.' politics of self-defense place the safety, security and stability of the lives of hundreds of millions of people at risk. In addition, Bush's planned war threatens the basics of international stability required for economic and social development around the world. This situation will inevitably lead to a multiplication of terror, ill will, and the desire for revenge. America's bulging muscles, today more than ever, pose dangers not only to itself but to the world at large. In the event that the international community and world leaders do not rise to the occasion and confine the wild imagination of the so-called eagles of the Pentagon and the National Security Council, the whole of humanity will one day awaken to its worst nightmare."
"Why Are America's Enemies On The Rise?"
Jeddah-based, moderate Okaz stated (2/2): "There are two facets to America's disregard for its ties with friendly countries: First, it becomes the subject of persistent hostile feelings because of its unrelenting, excessive and mounting pressure which directly interferes with the sovereignty of other countries. Second, it fails to take into consideration the sentiments of people, not giving heed to the consequences arising from subjecting others to emotional vulnerability, violation of dignity and subjugation of will. The situation calls for a responsible strategy which will draw people closer and make it easier to achieve U.S. goals of wide-spread democracy, freedom and rights. Continued provocation will only make the task more difficult. No matter how great a power--economic, political or military --the U.S. cannot face up to the anger and resentment of the world's people. The times call for U.S. guidance to bring the world toward greater stability and cooperation.... There is time to listen to the appeals of friends before the gap widens even further.... As friends of America it is our duty to make clear that its strategies breed more foes than friends. In the end everybody is a loser. The situation is a difficult one. Will the United States respond by suspending its confrontational policies?"
"Why The War?"
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan asked (2/2): "Why the daily alarm by the U.S. president and his administration following the end of the Afghani war? And whose interests do the current beating of war drums serve?... How long will American be able to finance the war on terror, which is only just beginning? Wouldn't it be more becoming for America to overcome its blind desire for revenge against terrorist acts? With positive coordination with friends and allies around the world, it could come up with new ways to combat terrorism at a lower cost and with greater effect."
London-based pan-Arab, influential Al-Hayat ran this commentary by Riyadh Bureau Chief Dawood Al-Shiryan (1/31): "President George Bush has renewed accusations of terrorism against the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Army of Mohammed movements. He also accused Iraq of conspiring to develop Anthrax, lethal gas, and nuclear weapons.... The new American rhetoric has put the Arab governments in an embarrassing situation, increased possibilities of political confrontation between the Arabs and Washington, and perhaps suggests the targeting of some Arab countries for military actions.... The Arab governments' approval of the meaning of the new American language, or even parts of it, will be a hard concession to make, in light of the war of annihilation against the Palestinian people.... Washington is ready to engage in dialogue and to change its tough tone if it feels that the Arabs are interested in negotiations over (the future) of the Islamic movements' resistance, rhetoric, relief assistance, education, and (political) parties. The Arabs are ready to cooperate and even to grant concessions, but they are still far from halting the resistance, as well as from identifying it with terrorism."
"The Benefits Of Silence"
London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat opined (1/28): "It is not true that Arabs are incapable of changing the path of the current Palestinian crisis. Certainly they can do something other than 'begging' the U.S to interfere, especially when the American interference takes a destructive direction.... This may just sound like talk, but it is the least we can do in our current situation. Arab silence now is the preferred alternative. It is better than getting involved in the American-Israeli scenarios of fighting terrorism or searching for the right leadership for the PA. Israel is taking advantage of the American mood. Finding the right leadership means finding someone who would accept the expanding Jewish settlements and keeping the Palestinian resistance quiet. Fighting terrorism, according to their definition, means destroying any legitimate Palestinian resistance against Israel.... Silence may be a benefit these days, otherwise we would have to sign agreements and accept Israeli-American solutions.... We are not defending silence nor are we encouraging it, we are only trying to prevent Arabs from committing a deadly mistake"
"The Campaign Aspects Against Iran"
Jeddah-based, moderate Al-Bilad opined (1/16): "The American-Israeli campaign has a principle focus. Washington is trying to limit Iran's political and security role in Afghanistan given that Iran refused to allow U.S. and allied forces to operate from there in its war on terrorism. Washington fears that this would limit its ability to impose its influence on political and economic matters in Central Asia. It seems that Washington is trying to escalate the crisis with Tehran under the banner of the 'Campaign Against Terrorism'... Here is where U.S. policy fits into Israeli plans to achieve three goals: First, this will prevent Iran from getting Russian nuclear weapons. Second, it will limit the influence of Iran militarily and politically in the Middle East which could threaten the Zionist plan. Third, Israel is trying involve Iran in the U.S. campaign against terrorism so Iran will stop supporting Lebanon Hezbollah and the Palestinians."
"What Has Bin Laden Done To Muslims?"
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan told readers (1/16): "The speed at which events have been developing on the international stage since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, made it difficult to assess the amount of damage Bin Laden has inflicted on Muslims living in the Arab world or abroad. Muslims in the U.S and Europe have become guilty until proven innocent; not to mention the official arrests and discrimination they face on daily bases. Opening a window of hell for countries like Afghanistan is just one of bin Laden's achievements. Other countries, such as Iraq, Somalia, Yemen etc. can thank UBL for marking them as suspects for harboring terrorism. We can never forget the damage he has done to the Palestinians and their cause. Israel has succeeded in convincing America that all Palestinians are terrorists and their
legitimate resistance movements nothing but terrorist organizations that should be destroyed.... Last but not least, let us not forget what is happening today in Pakistan, America's first ally in the war on Afghanistan. Many Muslim schools and establishments were closed for allegedly having some sort of a relationship with the Taliban. This is a desperate situation. What HAS Bin Laden done to Muslims? And where are his promises of terrorizing America? It is only the Muslims who are living terror, while America is enjoying peace."
"What If The Young Pilot In Florida's Incident Was A Muslim Arab?"
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan said (1/13): "Richard Bishop, that 'poor teenage' pilot, who was influenced by bin Laden's attacks, stole a one engine plane and crashed it into a high rise. What if 'that good kid' was an American of Arabic origin, or even Muslim, would they have said the same thing about him? Or would they have called him a Muslim barbarian or a vicious Arab criminal? Terrorism is blessed if done by Americans and in some cases it becomes a right for Americans and others to practice against all who stand in their way. But when it is done in self defense against an occupying aggressor killing women and children the rules are reversed. It becomes terrorism again because a Palestinian, Arab carried it out. The three youths whose skulls were crushed and bodies mutilated is a prime example of that double standard in the media. Perhaps this is a new system America and Israel are trying to force on us. This system blesses Israel's nuclear terrorism, and prohibits Palestinians from throwing stones and carrying knives in self-defense."
"A Call For Defending The Dignity Of Saudis"
Riyadh-based, moderate Al-Jazira ran this op-ed by Jaser Abdulaziz (1/9): "Saudi Lawyer Al-Shamery is preparing to present court cases to ask for compensation for the Saudis who where arrested in U.S. I feel that Al-Shamery and his fellow lawyers must act quickly. Each Saudi citizen and businessman should start donating to this cause so that he can succeed in his mission. Saudi citizens who where subjected to any offense or arrested should present documentation to the Al-Shamery as well.... The case he is really defending is the reputation, humanity, and dignity of all of the Saudi citizens who had theirs destroyed by mistreatment in the United States.... The initiative of this Saudi lawyer should be supported by the people to assure that the human rights of the Saudis in the United States are respected.... The transgressions of the FBI in America against these Saudis should not be left without retribution.... This is the role of Al-Shemery and his friends and it is our role to support their efforts to defend the dignity of these Saudi citizens."
"I Agreed With an American On A Form Of Prayer"
Jeddah-based, moderate Okaz declared (1/8): "President [Bush] claimed that he is not fighting Islam, but all the military operations target Islamic countries. Even when he mistakenly called the campaign a crusade, we forgave him.... To us a crusade has only one meaning linguistically, historically, psychologically and physically. Many doubt that the cowboy from Texas opened the dictionary to look up the primary meaning of the word. We welcomed his visit to the Islamic Center in Washington and his invitation to some Muslims to join him for Iftar dinner during Ramadan.... In the latest statistics nearly five thousand people died in New York and Washington. So far more than 40 thousand Afghan Arab and Muslin citizens have died. That is to say that for each one killed in New York you killed eight in Afghanistan. You have taken more than your share of revenge. But you still threaten to invade other countries, Somalia once, Iraq another time, and Syria etc.... 'I still do not get it!' remarked the American. 'Do you curse us in your prayers?' I said; 'I curse you conditionally. A curse which gives me comfort knowing that God is aware of your intentions. I curse you saying: God, if the U.S wants to harm Islam, God make them harm themselves, God shake the ground on which they stand, God bestow your anger upon them. God, if the U.S wants to deceive us, let them fall victims to their deception.... Yes my friend I curse you conditionally.... When I condition my curse, I achieve two things. First I increase my faith in God, knowing that he is my savior, and second I do not defile you since you say that you are not fighting Islam."
Jeddah-based, moderate Saudi Gazette held (1/7): "The Arab League is contemplating to expand its area of activity to include Arab minorities. Generally such plans are focused on the U.S. where the world starts and ends for some people. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa Saturday announced a plan to hold a conference in the U.S. for Americans of Arab origin.... In November, Moussa had also announced an action plan to correct the image of Arab-Muslim civilization.... According to its charter, the Arab League does not represent the peoples; it is an organization of states and governments. The people are represented indirectly.... Hence, the Arab League's interest in Arab minority communities living outside the Arab World is exceptional.... The Arab League might have decided to focus on the U.S., either to keep it in good humor following the September 11 incident in which no one other than Arabs is suspected and sought, or to reassure the Americans of Arab origin who are now facing trying times in some parts of the United States.... One pertinent question is if an occasional conference or seminar really serves the purpose? Perhaps Arab universities should be encouraged and financed to open their doors with specialized short-term courses in Arab-Muslim civilization, culture and religion for non-Arab international students."
"A Mere Brush With Our Reality"
Jeddah-based, moderate Arab News published this commentary (12/29) by Editor-in-Chief Khaled Al Maeena, in form of a memo to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times: "We grieve personally for the victims of the Sept. 11. We also grieve for the hundreds of innocent Palestinians who have been killed and the many thousands who have been left permanently disabled during the latest intifada alone. It is not our schools or madrassas that breed bitterness against the U.S.. It is the unqualified support your country gives to Israel. Unless you look at this fact impartially, you will never even come close to understanding why there is anger directed against your government."
"They Create Terror, Then They Fight It"
Jeddah-based, moderate Okaz intoned (12/26): "Terrorism and violence are not exclusive to Afghanistan. What is happening in India and Pakistan, Palestine, and Argentina is evidence enough that their causes are many. The American policies, which are known for their greediness and carelessness of others, are just one example. There is another reason that has not yet become public, the American victory. The Americans' triumph will encourage them and their allies to continue ignoring the reasons behind terrorism, the reasons that made it the only possible way of protest in a world governed by Americans in every way. This makes things even more depressing for those who see themselves as victims of injustice, whether they are right or wrong. The feeling of danger increases when we know that America has failed despite its victory; it failed to capture Bin Laden, the head of al-Qaida although it is said he is not the only leader. The Americans have struck this organization heavily, but international terrorism keeps on resisting.... Since terrorists all over the world have become targets and prey for hunting they will resist fiercely and desperately. They will bet that injustice is there to stay. They will bet that the American policies, which contributed to the creation of terrorism, will continue to resort to the measures the Americans took in their fight against it. Thus, the American policies serve international terrorism. The experts maintain that the American fighters did not destroy the terrorists, because terrorists are spread all over the world. Those who were fighting in Afghanistan are just one third, the rest are still alive. That is why the danger still
"Who Defines Terrorism"
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan held (12/26): "Once again it is important to define terrorism, unless the world wants to wash its hands of what is being committed in Afghanistan under the umbrella of fighting terrorism. The United Nations is the safest place to define the term, not the Pentagon, nor the State Department, nor the White House. Generalizing the American understanding of the word is not the way to destroy it (terrorism). What is happening now and will happen in the future is going to create revulsion and hatred worse than what we have seen so far from the Taliban and al-Qaida. The Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas and Al-Jihad in Palestine are not terrorist organizations. They are national movements supported by millions of people in the Arab and Muslim worlds and that is why they have acquired the world's respect. Countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen can not be accused of terrorism and assigned by Washington to groups to be targeted. Defining terrorism cannot be unilateral. It is an issue for the whole world to understand."