April 17, 2003
IRAQ WAR OPENS 'WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY' FOR PEACE
** The U.S.'
"intimidation campaign" against Syria aims to "calm the
** Washington should prod
its "protégés in Tel Aviv," not try to "remodel the Middle
** The "liberation of
Iraq" could allow a "fresh start" in the peace process.
** As the war's
"principal victor," Israel will only offer the Palestinians
The U.S. focus on Syria helps 'relaunch the roadmap'-- The U.S. is using threats to force Syria,
"Israel's staunchest opponent," to reduce its "influence on
radical Palestinian elements." Tel
Aviv's left-leaning Ha'aretz argued this would diminish the danger to
Israel and bring it "closer to another peace agreement." Muslim writers stressed instead that the
"Zionist lobby" is "prodding the U.S.-led Coalition to attack
Syria," which Pakistan's centrist Dawn declared would severely
damage "America's relations with the Arab-Islamic world."
Washington must 'exert not only subtle but also public pressure on
Israel'-- PM Sharon's
"conciliatory tones" resulted from "U.S. pressure," with
dailies agreeing that investing "energy, persuasion and stamina on the
Israel-Palestine question" will create more "peace dividends"
than threatening Syria or Iran. But the
U.S.' "unfair attitude" means it won't expend any effort to
"convince Sharon to give up impossible strategies," says Brazil's
right-of-center O Globo.
Observers were "pessimistic" the U.S. would undertake a
sufficiently "radical change of emphasis and policy" to persuade
"a very skeptical Israeli government" to accept the roadmap.
'Now is the time' to bring 'peace with dignity to the Middle
"liberation" of Iraq, Abu Mazen's PM appointment and Sharon's
"softening" all "herald a change for the better," as the
"fundamental changes in the region" mean this may be a "new
era" for the peace process. The
West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam said the "fierce American storm
blowing violently in the region" makes it necessary to avoid a government
that "follows a losing path, unable to face this storm." Norwegian and South African papers saw a
"glimmer of hope" for a "safer Israel next to a more viable,
PM Sharon's 'concessions' are only a 'PR deception'-- The planned peace with the Palestinians is
"nothing but a farce" because the U.S.' recent actions have given
Israel enough of a "free hand" that it "does not even need to
pretend to support the Oslo process."
Leftist observers from Israel and the West Bank alike predicted Sharon
will entangle the roadmap in "endless and barren arguments dooming it to
oblivion." Arab papers blamed
Sharon's "intransigence" and "impudence" for Israel's
"attempt to avoid peace."
Conversely, right-wing Israeli papers opposed the roadmap, urging the
world to place the "primary burden of statehood and peace on the
Palestinians, where it belongs."
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey
was based on 60 reports from 30 countries over 12 - 17 April 2003. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most
BRITAIN: "Don't Hold
Jonathan Freedland opined in the leftist Guardian
(4/16): "For once the outlook seems
almost sunny. In a conflict where a
change in prospects is usually from bleak to bleaker, the Israeli-Palestinian
struggle has suddenly begun sprouting apparent green shoots of
possibility. Perhaps after a season of war,
pray the optimists, this could be the season of peacemaking in the Middle
East. It'd be nice to think so. But--and this might be good advice for our
prime minister - it's best when gazing at the Middle East to put aside the
rose-colored spectacles. For there is
every reason to be skeptical, rather than hopeful, about the intentions of both
the Israeli and the U.S. administrations....
This administration will do little or nothing for Israeli-Palestinian
peace this side of next year's presidential elections.... And this is about more than the crude (and
often mistaken) assumption about the Jewish vote.... But more important is the 'iron triangle'
within the Republican Party. It consists
of Jewish donors, ideological neocons and critically, the Christian right. It is this group--which stands to the right
of the American Jewish community--which Bush would be reluctant to offend. Put simply, the message from Washington is: don't
hold your breath. The White House will
put no pressure on Israel until the Palestinians are deemed to have made the
grade on internal reform--and that judgement is not coming soon."
"Bush's Next Move"
The leftist Guardian said (4/15): "What is the Bush administration up
to? Even the gloomiest observers of
Washington's hawkish neoconservatives do not believe Abrams tanks are about to
deploy to Syria. Colin Powell's warning
of economic and diplomatic measures is nearer the mark. The US is making hay while the post-war sun
shines. Mr. Assad is vulnerable because
of the loss of illegal Iraqi oil imports and a mounting sense of regional
isolation. The US and Britain agree he
would be taking risks if he allowed Arab fighters or weapons across his border
or sheltered senior Iraqis--though UN backing for the war would have made such
demands easier to enforce. The US also
wants Syria to rein in political support for groups like the suicide -bombing
Palestinian Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Lebanese Shi'ite organization
Hizbullah. That could help calm the
Israeli-Palestinian front--though only if Mr. Bush follows Mr. Blair's urgent
advice and exploits new opportunities in Jerusalem as well as Damascus."
Sillke Mertins noted in business-oriented Financial Times
Deutschland of Hamburg (4/17): “The
fear of terrorism is safeguarding Ariel Sharon’s power and popularity for the
time being. But the economic weakening
that goes along with the ongoing political crisis could break his back. A general strike and protests against cuts in
all sectors are the harbingers of a massive social conflict in Israel. Sharon may withstand the revolt of the
Palestinians but not the intifada of the Israelis. It is time for one of his aides to tell
him: ‘It’s the economy, stupid!’ And the only way out of the economic misery
leads via the seized headquarters of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.”
"A Fire Still
Right-of-center Nordwest-Zeitung of Oldenburg contended
(4/17): "The end of the military
operations in Iraq cannot obscure the fact that a fire is still burning at the
powder keg in the Middle East. The
Islamic leadership is suspicious of an American-British protectorate.... But as if this were not dangerous enough, Ariel
Sharon is pouring oil into the fire. In
a patronizing way, the Israeli premier does not recommend a military strike
against Syria, but as far as the economy is concerned, he would not mind the
United States turning the thumbscrews.
Again the hawk in Jerusalem is pursuing his own interests which will
make peace even more fragile.”
Erik-Michael Bader judged in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (4/15): “If Israel’s
Premier Sharon had really declared his willingness to clear the Israeli
settlements on Palestinian territory to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,
we could speak of a sensational change....
But it is simply not imaginable that an Israeli government would ever be
willing to give up all its 200,000 settlers in the Gaza Strip and on the West
Bank. According to the Israeli point of
view the ban laid down in international law not to settle on occupied territory
is not valid in this case, since it does not consider this territory the
occupied territory of another state.
Israel considers the annexed eastern Jerusalem, including the
surrounding with the 200,000 settlers part of its own territory.”
"Tightrope Act In the Middle East"
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg
opined (4/15): “With a look to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are
trying to call Syria to reason. In their
search for legitimacy for the military strike in the Gulf, the allies promised
to intensely push the search for a peaceful solution of the Middle East
conflict after the end of the war.
Following the swift ouster of the Iraqi dictator, the Americans and the
British must now keep their promise in order to turn a military into a
political victory. But without Syria’s
concessions, the solution of the conflict will hardly be possible.... It is no coincidence that we suddenly also
hear more conciliatory tones from Israel...but Ariel Sharon would certainly not
have been willing to make compromises without U.S. pressure.... But U.S. mediation attempts will be
successful only if the United States is able to convey a picture of an ‘honest
broker.’ The Arab world watches the
‘protector’ of the hated Israel with great skepticism. Only if the Americans exert not only subtle
but also public pressure on Israel, will the Arab world be willing to get
involved in a peaceful solution of the Mideast conflict.”
ITALY: "Domino Effect
In The Middle East"
Arturo Gismondi commented in pro-government, leading center-right Il
Giornale (4/15): “Ariel Sharon has
beaten all those who are interested, one way or the other, to the roadmap for
peace in the Middle East--the United States, Europe, Russia, the
Palestinians--by hinting to the concrete prospect of a quick beginning of
negotiations guaranteed by the international community. This is an important development, since
Sharon has outlined in a precise fashion to his interlocutors the concessions
that Jerusalem is ready to make....
Sharon’s interview with Haaretz is the first ‘domino effect’ of the war
in Iraq, capable of changing the immobile scenario of the Middle East.... Palestinian extremists will have to do
without the protection, and the money, of Saddam Hussein. Israel can now look to the future with more
optimism. Also because its other merciless enemy, Syria, suspected of hiding mass
destruction weapons and giving shelter to Saddam’s top collaborators, has
excellent reasons to be careful and to control the mortars and the rockets of
the Hezbollah at the border with Lebanon.”
AUSTRIA: “This Hyper-power
Is Capable Of Anything”
In mass-circulation Kurier,
Walter Friedl asked (4/16): “Is
this just a warning or already the overture to another war in the Middle East?
No one outside the neo-conservative circle around US President Bush knows how
exactly the American threats against Syria should be interpreted.... But let’s not give in to illusions: If Bush
decides to go wild and Blair stresses the partnership for moderate Islamic
regimes, the pattern is somewhat reminiscent of the good cop-bad cop scheme.
Both have the same goal: Establishing a new order in the Middle East. Whoever
doesn’t fit in will have to go. And it is certainly no coincidence that these
states are the declared enemies of Israel.
Apart from the safeguarding of national interests (oil), all that activity
in Washington has another goal: To strengthen Israel at the expense of the Arab
world. The planned peace with the Palestinians is thus nothing but a farce.”
"Arafat Has Shot Himself In The Foot"
In liberal Der Standard, Gudrun Harrer opined (4/15): "Palestinian President Yassir Arafat is
opposed to the new Palestinian cabinet suggested by designated Prime Minister
Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who is not a ‘Zionist agent,’ but an old companion of
Arafat’s. As soon as this cabinet exists, the--meanwhile no longer
new--‘roadmap’ for the Middle East, which the EU, the UN and Russia have been
bragging about in the USA for months, will finally be published. This was
promised by US President George Bush himself. And now Arafat is doing
everything to prevent the cabinet and the roadmap. He has shot himself in the
foot here.... Dov Weisglass, head of
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s cabinet, was supposed to call on Bush’s Security
Advisor Condoleezza Rice on Monday in order to present Israel’s reservations
regarding the roadmap: He was able to nonchalantly point out that nothing can
be done as long as Arafat is still around.”
“Another War In The Middle East?”
In centrist Die Presse, Gerhard Bitzan
wrote (4/15): "As happened with
Iraq last year, suddenly all sorts of allegations against Damascus turn up:
Syria produces chemical weapons, Syria is a warmonger, Syria supports al Qaeda,
Syria is a stronghold of terrorism....
However, the US is facing more of a struggle with Damascus than it did
with Baghdad. Not on a military level, but on the level of international
politics, an attack would meet with utter incomprehension. After all, Syria has
not broken any UN resolutions for years, as Iraq has. It might be light-years
away from democracy, but it does not have a slaughter regime like the one in
Baghdad. At the same time, Syria is Israel’s staunchest opponent in the region,
and this seems to be the true reason for the increased attacks. It would be too
great for Israel if, in the course of the big spring-cleaning, Syria, too,
would be put in its place. However, all of this can surely not be a reason for
"Warning To Arafat"
Pavel Masa commented in center-right Lidove Noviny
(4/17): "An American commando team
detained Abu Abbas in Baghdad and it is important to note that he had to return
to Baghdad after Syria refused him entry to its territory. Abbas's case has
become warning message to Palestinian extremists including Arafat. After they
lost one of their main sponsors--Saddam Hussein--they are confronted with the
prospect that Syria under U.S. pressure will gradually start sacrificing them.
Palestinian Premier Mahmoud Abbas, who is attempting to eliminate the influence
of Palestinian extremists and head towards a peace with Israel, can be
satisfied. And if the Americans manage to find in Baghdad a live witness of
Arafat's participation in past crimes and evidence about his financial
machinations at the expense of the Palestinian people, the Premier could really
IRELAND: "US Turns Its
Attention To Syria"
The center-left Irish Times stated (4/16): "The United States has turned its
attention to Syria after securing military control over Iraq.... This is a signal of what is to come and a
sharp reminder that a wider regional agenda underlies Washington's Iraq
campaign.... Syria's role is deeply
bound up with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That gives it a real obligation
to play its hand responsibly.... The
Bush administration has had a constant ideological sympathy with Mr Ariel
Sharon's government in Israel, which has been strengthened by the outcome of
the war. While Mr Bush has pledged to devote as much attention to an
Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement...this would involve a radical change of
emphasis and policy towards Israel--a readiness to put pressure on it to make
major concessions for peace. This looks unlikely in the light of the US
presidential election next year, in which Mr Bush will rely on Jewish and
Christian fundamentalist votes to win another term. Pressure for a peace
agreement will have to come from the other members of the 'quartet'."
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad editorialized
(4/14): "The Americans are using
the momentum to put pressure on Syria....
However, it would reflect political overconfidence if the United States
would immediately push through to Syria.
It would also diminish the opportunities which the end of this Iraq war
offers to help find a solution for the problems in the region.... Sharon has rightly so emphasized the
importance of the opportunity now that another phase has begun.... Israel and the Palestinians, particularly
Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas' administration, should be judged by their
actions. No more suicide attacks
followed by the unavoidable counterattacks on Palestinian villages and
cities. Only then will serious talks be
possible. There is immense mutual suspicion and hatred; both parties will have
to make painful concessions...but if there is a chance to break the spill of
mutual violence then now is the time."
NORWAY: “Hope And Fear”
Christian-Democratic Norwegian-language Vaart Land held
(4/16): “Instead [of pursuing a war
against Syria] the mighty U.S. and U.K. must gamble on a fresh start in the
Middle East, and a fresh start can only be about a better relationship between
Israel and Palestine. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said that the outcome of
the war gives possibilities for big changes, but he does not give any concrete
promises or admissions. The peace process is more ruined than Baghdad, but in
this quiet week it is possible to see a glimmer of hope. Can it grow stronger?”
"Shock And Relief Over Baghdad’s Fall”
In newspaper-of-record Aftenposten, Per A. Christiansen
commented (4/12): “For now it is unclear
to what degree President George W. Bush will try to pressure a very skeptical
Israeli government to accept this so-called ‘roadmap’ for peace. Especially
Bush’s nomination of the strongly Israel-friendly retired General Jay Garner as
acting leader in Iraq has for now weakened the Arabs’ hope that the U.S. meant
Enlargement To 'Pax' Americana"
Editor-in chief Rui Teixeira Santos wrote in centrist weekly Semanário
(4/17): "What we saw [in Iraq]
was...the pragmatism of a surviving people....
The renaissance of Islam proclaimed in Cairo and Damascus is ending in
the pragmatism of a new order for the Middle East, where peace means dividing
the water of the Golan Heights among everyone, and where the collaborationism
of Syria and Iran will mean, at last, the recognition of a Palestinian state,
but also of Israel and its vital interests as a peaceful nation and viable
Vital Moreira vituperated in influential moderate-left Público
(4/15): "It is to be feared that
instead of forcing its proteges in Tel Aviv to put an end to Palestinian
humiliation (and in fact the systematic violation of a dozen United Nations
resolutions), Bush and his team are already planning for their next
'preventive' victim, if by chance there happen to be countries so senseless
that after the crushing of Iraq they dare to incur the wrath of the new lords
of the world."
SWEDEN: "A Window Of
Opportunity Has Opened"
Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet
editorialized (4/15): "The
liberation of Iraq has, at last, opened slightly the window of opportunity in
the Mideast. In addition there are signals from Washington, that indicate that
President Bush would be willing to open it completely.... The toppling of the Iraqi dictatorship might
be an impulse for the building of democracy in the Arab world. The creation of
a Palestinian state next to Israel would no doubt facilitate such a
process. Ariel Sharon, who until now has
only redeemed the negative expectations put on him, now has the chance to go
down in history with a different posthumous reputation. Whether he can make
himself take it, however, is another matter."
TURKEY: “Who Is Next?”
Soli Ozel noted in mass appeal Sabah (4/17): “Despite the strong warnings, a US military
operation against Syria is unlikely. The
Bush administration is currently going through the list of measures in an
orderly fashion, and at the same time calling on the Damascus regime to ‘read
correctly’ the consequences of the Iraq war.
Washington clearly is asking the Syrian administration to end support
for terrorism and to work for a lasting settlement with Israel. The policies pursued by Syria will shape
future developments in the region....
Another important factor to watch carefully is US policy about the
Israel-Palestine issue in the Bush administration’s new Middle East plan.... Considering the approaches to the Middle East
‘road map’ from both the US and Israel, we can draw a pessimistic
conclusion. The way Washington sees the
road map tells us that the Israeli administration will not face any pressure
for peace, at least in the near future.
In other words, peace and stability in the region are still far in the
Hasan Cemal observed in mass appeal Milliyet (4/17): “It is absolutely the best for Turkey when
and if Syria is freed from the Baath dictatorship and its support for terrorist
organizations is ended.... A peace
between Palestine and Israel can also be made possible if the US exerts enough
pressure on Sharon, especially after the normalization process of Iraq and
Syria. Such a development might have
positive effects for change in Lebanon as well as in Iran.... The current situation in the Middle East is
in the process of a transformation. It
means a certain amount of instability.
Yet the current situation was also inherently unstable. Therefore, Turkey should refrain from siding
with the status quo and instead encourage the change.”
ISRAEL: "Between The
Settlers And Bush"
Zeev Schiff commented in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(4/16): "Anyone who holds to
principles that include the end of the occupation that began in 1967, in Bush's
words, does not intend for the hundreds of Israeli settlements to remain in
Palestinian territory as if they are a part of Israel. Sharon understands this just like he
understands that Bush and [settler leaders] represent totally opposing
positions. It is impossible to realize
both their expectations.... At this
point, [Sharon] does not want a confrontation with either Bush or [the
settlers].... The expansion of
settlements means only one thing: the continuation of the occupation and the
rule over another people, if not over all of it then over most of it. All the
word games will not whitewash this fact. The inevitable result of the continued
occupation, even via settlements and outposts, will be an increase in terror
and its reinforcement by external radical elements. And if the terror attacks
resume after the Iraq War, how has it helped the struggle against terror?"
"U.S. Adopting Saudi Plan"
Orly Azolai-Katz wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (4/16): "The
disagreement between Israel and the U.S. over the 'road map' is getting
sharper. Tuesday for the first time,
Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the 'road map' would also be
based on the Saudi initiative for a peace agreement in the Middle East, which
consists mainly of a return to the June 1967 borders.... Up until Tuesday, Administration officials
refrained from mentioning the Saudi initiative in their discussions about the
U.S. 'road map.' Now the U.S. wants to
have Saudi Arabia participate in the peace process in exchange for quiet
cooperation on its part in the war against Iraq. In the past Israel already rejected the Saudi
initiative, which turned out to have been formulated in cooperation with the
Americans, and which was adopted by the Arab League.... Government sources in Jerusalem said last
night that Israel would not be able to accept the American demand that the
'road map' be based on the Saudi initiative."
"How To Deal With Syria"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(4/15): "The Syrian provocation is
also to be seen in its ties to organizations hostile to Israel--Palestinian
(Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front - General command) and Lebanese
(Hizbullah). The global U.S. campaign
against terror is also aimed at these groups and the countries that provide
them shelter. If the United States
succeeds in forcing Iran and Syria to cease their support for these
organizations that are trying to harm Israel inside its borders, in the
territories and overseas, it would be another substantial
contribution--following the removal of Iraq from the circle of hostile
countries--to Israel's security. The
situation that has emerged on Israel's northern front--from the moment the
Iraqi threat was neutralized, thus eliminating the eastern front--justifies
opening a diplomatic, not a military, campaign.... Renewing the Israeli-Syrian talks...could
thaw the tension between Washington and Damascus and bring Israel closer to
another peace agreement that would have an impact on the contacts with the
Palestinians. The price Israel would
have to pay, a withdrawal from the Golan, should not deter the Sharon government."
"Sharon Was Brainwashed"
Nationalist columnist Hagai Segal declared in popular, pluralist Maariv
(4/15): "Judging by the depth of
his fresh concessions [in his April 13 interview with Ha'aretz], Sharon
is more worthy of contempt than of anger.
He is neither 'pragmatic' nor 'moderate'--and certainly not a 'De
Gaulle,' as commentators have been praising him. He is a tired person.... Today, the idea of the establishment of a
Tanzim Palestinian state on the ruins of Jewish communities sounds even crazier
than two or three years ago, when 760 [Israeli] victims of the Intifada were
still alive. It could only be compared
with the establishment of a new Ba'ath government in liberated Baghdad and the
restoration of Saddam's statues at the Americans' expense.... In his next interview with Ha'aretz,
[Sharon] might even sing new melodies about Jerusalem."
"A Window Has Been Opened For Us"
Arik Bachar wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (4/15): "Even with all the uncertainty that has
enveloped the Middle East after the completion of the American project to
eradicate the Iraqi regime, one can determine with near certainty that if
Israel does not make a substantive change in its political and military
positions, someone on Israel's team is going to fail to recognize the fact that
indeed there are fundamental changes in the region. The eastern front that threatened Israel for
years no longer exists, in practice....
There are encouraging signs that Abu Mazen’s assumption of his duties as
the first Palestinian prime minister truly does herald a change for the
better. If this new, yet still inchoate
situation does not warrant new Israeli thinking, then we probably will never
find good reasons to think about how our situation has improved in the last 50
years.... Even if the international
pressure, with American support, reaches Israel only after all of the other
countries in the area have learned their lesson, arrive it most certainly
will. That is a good reason for the
Prime Minister to think seriously and not only to contemplate in a newspaper interview
about dismantling settlements and about meaningful Israeli gestures that will
promote a more pragmatic leadership among the Palestinians, showing that Israel
is capable of thinking outside its traditional box when a new reality begins to
take shape around it."
"What Sharon Says"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(4/14): "Polished statements [by
Ariel Sharon in his April 13 interview with Ha'aretz] and the initial
reactions to them--whether enthusiastic or condemnatory--will not be the judge
of Sharon's determination 'to make every effort,' as he said, 'to reach real
peace'.... But...what is the Prime
Minister doing to help Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbs] establish the government that
Sharon wants so much? What gestures has
he made? Has he ordered a reduction in
house demolitions, armored raids, the waves of night-time arrests, the
closures? In addition, Sharon's future
'painful concessions' echoed through the air Sunday. But a careful examination of what he said
shows that while the future he refers to is far off and still unseen, in the
visible present, the prime minister has no intention to concede anything or to
be pained.... There is a gnawing concern
in reading Sharon's words, given the way his government has been dealing with
the Palestinians, that the prime minister is raising 'the issue of stages,' as
he called it, as a means of undermining the road map by entangling it in
endless and barren arguments dooming it to oblivion."
"A Dove Named Arik"
Nahum Barnea stated in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (4/14): "Those who
made do with reading the headline [of Sharon's April 13 interview with Ha'aretz]
reached the conclusion that Sharon is ready for far-reaching concessions. Those who went to the trouble of reading the
small print found that it balanced out the large print. For more than two years Sharon has been
contorting himself like a juggler on this tightrope.... Sharon is just hanging on and not going
anywhere. Sharon's conditions for
negotiations on an agreement are: a different Arab leadership, fighting
terrorism, a list of reforms, a complete cessation of incitement, and the
dismantling of the terror organizations.
These are conditions that vast majority of Israelis agree with
wholeheartedly. The problem is with the
agreement itself. For the handful of
Bantustans that Sharon is offering the Palestinians, it is doubtful if in the
long term there will be any leaders willing to make the effort. Sharon has not become more moderate, but more
extreme.... Turning a concession on the
right of return into a precondition for negotiations is a wonder pill
guaranteed to torpedo any agreement. Or,
at least, to torpedo the 'road map.'"
"Speak, Mr. President"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post opined
(4/14): "The road map is so
obsessed with placing equal blame and making equal demands of both sides that
it is hard to see how it can be satisfactorily amended. There is also little
point in amending it, since that would mean going back for another
lowest-common-denominator document from the UN and the Europeans, which would
not turn out much better. What should be
done instead is to supplant the road map, just like the road map supplanted
Bush's June 24 speech. Turnover is fair
play. Bush, not the Quartet, is the
ultimate interpreter of his own speech.
And the essence of that speech was to place the primary burden of
statehood and peace on the Palestinians, where it belongs. The issues of blame and burden are not
quibbles; they spell the difference between another failed round of 'peace'
diplomacy and a viable attempt to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. Bush should say simply that he has confidence
the people and government of Israel are ready for peace the moment the
Palestinians and the Arab world demonstrate they are ready to live with
Israel.... If Bush wants the fruits of a new Middle East, he cannot get it
using a failed diplomatic playbook."
WEST BANK: "Israel's
Independent Al-Quds opined (4/14): "It is now clear that Israel, which has
done everything in its power to postpone the publication of the road map until
after the U.S. aggression against Iraq and wagered on the time factor, is
trying once again to set preconditions to the Palestinians under new slogans
and pretexts. Sharon pointed out the need for a new Palestinian leadership, the
enactment of several reforms, a total halt to incitement, and quashing
terrorist organizations as a condition for reaching an agreement. This is an
old position on which Sharon only bestowed further intransigence.... Therefore, we maintain that the public
relations deception by Israel and its prime minister by talking about painful
concessions and the readiness to attain a peace agreement amid a plethora of
conditions and dictates cannot conceal Israel’s attempt to avoid peace and its
renewed wager on the time factor.”
"Sharon's Statements Should Be Taken
Seriously; Let's Put Sharon To The Test"
Ziyad Aby Zayyad urged in independent Al-Quds
(4/14): "Despite the lack of
confidence which makes each side doubt any statement or positive
initiatives...by the other side, it is high time to get rid of our doubts, put
aside sentiments and emotions, and seriously listen to the other side’s
statements. I read Sharon’s remarks to Ha'aretz
very carefully. He expressed readiness
to compromise on some parts of the West Bank and said that he decided to exert
every effort to attain a settlement, that ultimately a Palestinian state will
be established, and that he believes that Israel should neither rule over other
people nor run their affairs because it doesn’t have the capabilities to do so
and because this constitutes a heavy burden on the Israeli public and inflicts
vast moral and economic harm on it. These statements--and I mentioned only part
of his remarks--should not be taken lightly but rather seriously. The
Palestinian side should grasp these statements and invite Sharon to the
negotiating table to sit together once under an international umbrella,
primarily the Quartet’s.”
"The Palestinian Government Is ‘Fateh-Parliamentary’
Hani Al-Masri opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam
(4/15): "We are in need of a
national, political, rational, democratic, professional and technocratic
government, one that is an apparatus within the PLO [and] is not an alternative
to the historical and legitimate leadership of our people. We don’t need a
government that takes a foolish position of standing against the fierce
American storm blowing violently in the region at this time. But we are also in
no need of a government that follows a losing path, unable to face this storm.”
"Abu Mazen Government: Double Mission"
Rajab Abu Sarieh wrote in independent,
pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (4/15): "As the Palestinians try to work out
final details regarding the formation of the new government, a reading of the
initial formation of this government indicates that it is going to be a
technocratic one, able to deal transparently with the internal
situation.... This reveals keenness to
integrate important Palestinian institutions by separating between the PLO and
the Palestinian Authority.”
"The Road Map: Illusion And Reality”
Gazi Al-Khalili contended in independent,
pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (4/13): "Many recent American statements have
confirmed that while the ‘Road Map’ will be declared after the formation of the
new Palestinian cabinet, it will not be imposed on the parties, stressing that
the American administration will wait to hear from both sides. This means that
it is very possible that the game of stalling and prolonged negotiations will
resume, which basically means abolishing the whole plan. This is exactly what
Sharon needs in order to impose his own plan of continuing settlement
activities and dividing the Palestinian areas into cantons isolated by
Leading pro-government Al Ahram contributor Fahmy Howeidi
commented (4/15): "With the fall of
Baghdad, the first Arab capital in the 21st century has fallen.... The worried voices in many Arab capitals are
saying if foreign intervention under the pretext of democratization can be
repeated in any other country, there should be rapid political reform, whether
to abort the foreign intervention plots, or to absorb the anger of the public,
which emerged to retaliate from the symbols of power, rulers' houses, and
statues of the one leader.... Despite
the diversity of predictions on the form of the new Middle East, Israel's share
is the clearest so far. Israel had a
role in mobilization, planning and implementing thee war.... General Gay Garner...was nominated by
Rumsfeld and supported by Sharon because of his relationship with the
extremists in Tel Aviv.... Two of the
group that are nominated to run Iraq are former CIA chums Woolsey...and Kerny,
as well as former VOA director Riley who will run the Iraqi TV 'Haaretz.' Jewish organizations in the U.S. established
good relations with Iraqi opposition...and some Israeli companies have already
planned airlines between Tel Aviv and Baghdad."
JORDAN: “Stop Asking For
Jamil Nimri remarked in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab
Al-Yawm (4/15): “During this war,
the Arab people stood against the invasion, except for the one people who
actually fell under that invasion, for they wanted to get rid of what they were
suffering from.... After this recent
shock, would it be right to ignore those methods of domestic rule that are
justified on the pretext that they confront foreign intervention? Would inflaming emotions with fiery,
high-noted pan-Arab and Islamic speeches and feeding hopes of regaining the
glory of the nation justify ignoring the oppression and corruption and stepping
on of individual citizens.... We do not
want any single leader to decide to drag us into confrontations. Only governments elected by elected parliaments
would decide such a thing, so that people can bear the responsibility, whether
negative or positive.... Commenting on
the objectives of imperialism and Zionism in our region and for our people is
masked idleness that seeks to exempt us from holding ourselves accountable for
what we are in. Is it logical that a
regime would wage two destructive useless wars?”
LEBANON: "All Roads To
A Better Future Lead Through Palestine"
The English-language moderate Daily Star (4/16): "No one who understands such matters had
any doubts that once the United States lead an invasion of Iraq, the former
would prevail. What remains to be seen
is whether U.S. President George W. Bush is willing to invest the same amounts
of effort, money, time, and politico-diplomatic capital in a resolution of the
Arab-Israeli conflict. He has enough
advises to know by now that whatever goals have been achieved in Iraq will not
matter very much--or for very long--unless he unties the Gordian knot at the
core of the region's problems: Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.... Washington's plans for the region will sink
or swim in Palestine and nowhere else....
The riddle is not insoluble but the damage incurred by failing to act
now will be irreparable.... The beauty
of the Palestinian issue is that an equitable agreement can help further a host
of worthwhile objectives across the region, including genuine democratization,
economic growth, open markets and increased stability. The unfortunate corollary to this capacity
for good, however, is an unstoppable propensity to block these and other
ambitions if the status quo is allowed to persist. The choice of which route to follow is Bush's
for the taking."
"The American Campaign Frees Israel's Hands"
Joseph Samaha wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(4/16): "Now that the war has
already taken place, and Washington has indicated that it...wants to reassemble
the Middle East starting with its campaign against Syria...consequently we can
talk about the Israeli benefits.... It
will be no exaggeration to believe that the torrent of American positions
against Syria provides Israel with a political coverage to do what it can to
complete the U.S. strategic plans in the Middle East; i.e., the U.S. might ask
Israel to do what it does not want to do 'in person.' Therefore, we can conclude that the U.S.
recent positions have 'liberated Israel' and has given it a free hand."
"The Great Zionist Dream And The American Warnings
Charles Ayoub noted in independent, non-sectarian Ad-Diyar
(4/15): "Washington is leaning on
its power and is not taking justice into consideration. It is using its double standard policy with
excessive impudence: On one hand, it
supports Israel, which is an invader, with money and weapons. On the other hand, it invades Iraq
barbarically and threatens Syria without any justification.... The U.S. is standing naked without any
credibility.... It owns nothing but the
weapons of power and destruction....
America is being led by Zionism.
There is no independent American decision and President Bush is not the
decision maker.... The Zionist lobby is
behind the American campaign against Syria....
The truth is that Israel is the country that owns WMD while Syria does
not. Washington talks about Syria and
ignores Israel.... The current American
policy is what is really dangerous for international stability. Bush, Powell and Rumsfeld are implementing
the Zionist dreams.... America will
eventually be destroyed by Zionism."
MOROCCO: “U.S. Accusations
Against Syria, Difficult Stability In Iraq And Post-War Uncertainty”
Semi-official French-language Le Matin held (4/16): “Having won the war in Iraq, the U.S. now
wants to be more involved in the future of the Middle East. Settlement plans made by George W. Bush and
his advisers are that after Iraq, Syria will be the next target of the American
strategy.... The intimidation campaign
against Syria is aimed at neutralizing Syrian support to Hamas and Hezbollah
Islamic movements, and reducing Damascus’s influence on radical Palestinian
elements in order to relaunch the ‘road map’."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Syria
War For The Following Reason"
Abha's moderate Al-Watan noted (4/16): "Syria was also able, to a great extent,
to disturb Israel domestically through the Palestinian Intifadah, which has
been going on for more than two years, by allowing organizations such as Hamas
and the Islamic Jihad to operate and support the Intifadah.... But in the Syrian case Washington
understands, along with its closest ally London, that statements by the
American leaders are no more than throwing dust in the eyes in order to harvest
elsewhere. It is no longer a secret,
especially now that Iraq's occupation has coincided in a naked way with a
revitalization of the roadmap."
"Partial Towards Israel And Against Peace"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazirah declared (4/15): "The American campaign will not have an
impact on the existing facts in the region, accordingly it will not assist in
stabilizing the peace, as long as it aligns with Israel, and at the same time
is attacking the countries which are complying with the peace process. Lagging
behind the Israeli agenda means that the key countries are limiting their
visions to the region, according to the Israeli conception, which is contrary
to the aim of all regional countries looking for a comprehensive and upright peace.... Syria will not yield to any pressure, to
subjugate itself for Israel, since Israel itself is occupying Syrian as well as
several other Arab countries' land."
"Israel And Campaign Against Israel"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazirah editorialized (4/15): "Israel entered the tension line between
Syria and the US, in the hope of arousing the conflicts, and to see another
Arabic country is torn down by the American military planes. By entering among
the tools of this campaign, Israel aims to press Syria to accept dealing with
Israel's incomplete presentation for peace, and hoping also for Syria to get
such a strike, as well as to remove all efficient authorities in the Arabic
world away from the Arabic-Israeli conflict's arena, to keep its stolen Arabic
properties and rights. Peace and stability in the region will not work out, if
dealing with the region's countries will go through the method of accusations,
to pass on definite schemes, lacking the upright and comprehensive peace
principles. Under no such circumstances and threats with the next Arabic
generation accept these settlements."
"Sharon's New Ploy"
Makkah-based conservative Al-Nadwa opined (4/14): "What Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister
declared yesterday, that he is ready to remove some of the Jewish settlements
from the west bank in order to solicit a peace settlement with the
Palestinians, is merely a new trick, to go around the American and British
efforts, which the American President and British Prime Minister promised to
carry out to move the peace process forward in the Middle East after ending the
war on Iraq. What Sharon is proposing, is no more than maneuvers to exploit the
nature of the current phase, to which all attentions are directed now on the
Middle East, seeking a political peace settlement after ending the war.
Sharon's signals are no more than misleading signals for the international
community to avoid putting any pressure on him that might lead to a final
settlement for one of the most complicated crises in the world."
Jeddah's moderate Okaz declared (4/14): "Israeli Prime Minister Sharon remained
silent for long time and when he finally spoke, he spoke the language of the
infidel. He is taking advantage of the recent chaos and disorder in the world
to score some goals of his own. He is using his agents in Washington to fill
the U.S.' heart with hatred against Saudi Arabia, employing the same old story
that Saudi Arabia is supporting terrorist organizations. In his first press
conference after the war, he impudently links Saudi Arabia with other countries
that are allegedly supporting terrorism. Saudi Arabia is not surprised, because
we have a just cause and we take solid stands, which we will continue
defending, and because we would not expect anything less than such lies from
Sharon and his gang. We are hopeful that the U.S. is aware of all the Zionist
false accusations. It should not come as a surprise to the entire world, that
Zionist lobbies are targeting US-Saudi relations, because such coalition
creates an obstacle for Zionist plans. However, we remain as eager to maintain
this coalition, as we are protective of our just cause. We will not pay any
attention to Sharon's impudence."
"American-Israeli Objectives Behind Threats Towards Syria"
Editor-in-chief Noureddine Achour observed in independent
Arabic-language As-Sabah (4/15):
"The issue of chemical weapons is a pretext; when used, it brings
the theoretical support of American general opinion and that of the western
world.... It seems that Washington's
requests to Syria represent strategic goals, including forcing Syria to
withdraw its forces from the Lebanese territories and to dislocate the
organization of Hizbollah militia. It
also aims to reach arrangements with Lebanon that would guarantee the 'right'
of Israel to profit from South Lebanon waters and to find a solution to the
Golan Heights. These arrangements would allow Israel to place this area out of
the reach of Syria's sovereignty, perhaps even by deploying 'international'
forces on it. Hence, what the American
administration is going to achieve this time is neither linked with oil nor
with democracy, but with saving Israel from its own complexes and fears... In
the case of dismantling Hizbollah militia, the strike will be binary, as it
will also target the last remnants of Iranian control outside of its
UAE: "An Arab
Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al-Khaleej editorialized
(4/16): "The earthquake in Iraq
created an unbalanced situation, but there is a chance to reunite all that have
been scattered, also there are abilities and capabilities from which they can
benefit. The Arabs must realize that
Syria is not the only target, and that protecting it is protecting what remains
on a long American-Zionist list, regardless of the violent and brutal
attacks.... Otherwise, the imprisoning
of Arabs that began in Palestine and continued to Iraq will not be limited to
AUSTRALIA: “Priorities In
An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald read
(4/16): "With the dust yet to
settle on the expeditious capture of Iraq, the rattling of American sabers at
neighboring Syria is untimely and unsettling. It fuels suspicions that the
United States led the pre-emptive strike against Iraq while concealing its real
intentions. Critics can legitimately celebrate Iraq's liberation from decades
of tyranny while questioning the consequences for international order if the
world's only superpower chooses gunboat diplomacy to create its own domino
effect. As pressing as the US may regard the bringing to heel of Syrian
excesses, the investment of energy, persuasion and stamina on the
Israel-Palestine question is more likely to pay peace dividends.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"Winners And Losers In The War On Iraq"
Sunanda Kisor Datta-Ray stated in the independent English-language
South China Morning Post (4/15):
"With so much contention, the U.S. will probably do what it would
have done anyway--install its own pro-consul.
The objection is that the nominee, retired General Jay Garner, is a
leading light of the same military-industrial complex that favors Mr.
Chalabi. It is also strongly
pro-Israel. Israel's role can only be
guessed at. It was Israel that whispered
to the Americans that Syria was sending military supplies to Iraq. It was Israel that suggested Saddam Hussein
might be in Damascus. What needs no
guessing is that Israel does not even need to pretend now to support the Oslo
process. President George W. Bush's road
map for Palestine probably fell far short of the original vision. The Palestinian Authority will have to be
grateful for whatever crumbs the Israelis throw it. Indeed, after the devastation of Iraq,
Palestinians are the real losers in the war.
Israel is the principal victor."
JAPAN: "Arab World
Concerned About Postwar Crisis"
Liberal Asahi observed (4/15): "As Iraq comes under the control of
U.S./UK troops, post-Saddam 'waves of change' are expected to sweep the Middle
East and Arab region. As things stand, the U.S., having demonstrated its
overwhelming military might in the war in Iraq, is expected to hold sway over
the region, probably setting its sights on Syria and Iran as its next
(military) targets. As the balance of power between the U.S.-Israel group and the
Arab world is fast crumbling, the outlook for Middle East peace appears to be
INDONESIA: “The U.S. Now
Pressing On Syria”
Christian-oriented Sinar Harapan
commented (4/15): “The allegations that
Syria possesses weapons of mass destruction and harbors Saddam’s regime leaders
constitute a form of pressure that could justify Washington to attack Syria if
it refuses to comply with the will of Bush and his friends. We find the
allegations unfair.... The U.S. methods
to develop unfair partial foreign policies in the Middle East for momentary
interests are very dangerous and will only bring about more failures.... The root of the problem is the U.S. unfair
attitude in handling the Israel-Palestine conflict. Support for a fair
settlement there could very likely end the various conflicts and political
upheavals in the Middle East. All in
all, those threats indicate that the multilateralism era has ended and has been
replaced with U.S. unilateralism.”
Government-influenced English-language New Straits Times
editorialized (4/17): "The Bush
Administration’s sabre rattling over Syria shows that occupying Iraq was only
the opening shot in its attempt to reshape the Middle East. Syria is accused by the US of accepting fleeing
Iraq officials, developing WMD and sheltering anti-Israeli militant groups such
as Hezbollah. In going after Syria, the US is doing what the Israelis had all
along wanted--to neutralize a powerful backer of the legitimate struggle of the
Palestinian people for freedom and their rights. Syria has denied developing
WMD and instead has accused the US of double standards in turning a blind eye
to Israel's possession of WMD.
Washington cannot hope to impose a lasting peace in the Middle East with
military might alone, even after deposing Saddam Hussein. Having tasted blood in Iraq, the hawks are
now gunning for Syria. It is hard to see how there can ever be peace until the
warmongers, whether in Washington or Tel Aviv, are reined in."
"Israel Pressuring The U.S. To Go After Syria."
Government-influenced Malay-language Berita Harian opined
(4/16): "There is no doubt that all
the pressure Syria has been receiving from the U.S., stems from Israel’s
insistence that its powerful ally help remove all threats to its country. What is puzzling is why the U.S. becomes dumb
when it comes to the weapons of destruction owned by Israel. Instead U.S. President George W. Bush is most
willing to send military aid so that Israel can continue its terrorizing and
killing Palestinians, destroying their property and confiscating their
lands. Bush then accuses Palestinian
‘warriors’ of committing acts of terror towards Israelis. In the tense confrontation with Damascus, the
U.S. is being supported by Britain. What
are the intentions behind Bush and British PM Tony Blair’s maneuvering in the
Middle East? Do they want Israel to
reign supreme in the region once the U.S. manages to crush all the Arab
nations? We hope, as voiced by Acting
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, that the U.S. does not make an attempt to
destroy the sovereignty, independence and freedom of yet another Arab
"Peace, Too, Must Be Won"
Editor-in-Chief Abdullah Ahmad maintained in the government-influenced
English-language New Straits Times (4/15): "Israel has not been quiet, solidifying
and posturing its invulnerability. Now
is America's moment in the Middle East, indeed in the universe. George W. Bush,
the swaggering world policeman and his loyal associate, Tony Blair, have
everything; they have won the war, now they want to win the peace, too. They may get their wish. They must turn their energy to the creation
of a secure Palestinian state as they pledged.
They have to deliver it, the sooner the better, otherwise the
AngloAmerican interest in the Islamic world will always be imperiled.... That is why the reconstruction and renewal of
post-war Iraq must be handled by the UN. If this unfortunate conflict is ever
to have a happy ending, the country must be spared the shame of having been
held captive by a foreign power. The war in Iraq must mark only the end of the
beginning of a sustained and determined campaign to bring peace with dignity to
the Middle East."
INDIA: "Sharon Softens"
The centrist Statesman held (4/17): "Ariel Sharon is giving out interesting
signals--he has told an Israeli newspaper that a Palestinian state is
inevitable, and that he would be willing, for the sake of peace, to remove some
Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza strip. This softening of stance is
welcome, although qualified by the readiness to give up only 'some' settlements
in occupied areas. Sharon may be treading carefully to prepare Israeli public
opinion for some concessions to the Palestinians--he realizes these are
inevitable to placate the Arab world, inflamed by the Iraq conflict. Washington
needs to show some compensating moves--and defining an early Israeli position
for negotiations is a good move.... It
may be time for a bold move to impose a final settlement, broadly in the form
of West Bank, Gaza, and bits of Jerusalem for the Palestinians, in return for
impeccable security guarantees for the Israelis. The Americans could persuade
the Syrians to stop sponsoring Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. Washington and
London need to 'win hearts and minds' in West Asia in order to secure their own
interests; facilitating a satisfactory settlement of the Palestinian problem
would certainly go a long way."
"Victory For Israel"
Hyderabad-based right-of-center English-language Newstime
declared (4/14): "It was Israel
that whispered to the Americans that Syria was sending military spares to
Iraq. It was Israel that suggested that
Saddam, his sons and his high command...were in Damascus.... No wonder the Israelis, with full American
backing were so anxious to foist on Yasser Arafat a Prime Minister who would
curtail his authority. The Palestinian
Authority will now have to be grateful for whatever crumbs the Israelis throw
it. Indeed, after ravaged Iraq, the
Palestinians are the real losers in this war. Israel is the principal
PAKISTAN: "And Now,
Populist Urdu-language Khabrain noted (4/15): "It seems as if one of the several
motives for the U.S attack on Iraq is providing protection to Israel.... America's threat to Syria is a moment of
concern for the international fraternity.
Where will this trend of the U.S. targeting other countries on mere
accusations end? Will a single human
being be left on earth by the time America sees its final victory? These
questions demand answers if there is to be peace on the face of this
"Warning To Syria"
The Karachi-based independent national Dawn opined
(4/15): "One never thought America
would turn its attention on its next Arab target so soon. The situation in Iraq
is still fluid. But the heat is already being turned on Syria.... At times, Bush administration officials have
denied that they had a list that they would pursue after the Saddam regime was
toppled. Secretary of State Colin Powell was among those who recently denied
that the US had any such plans. Yet, the recent spate of threats to Damascus
suggests that the hawks once again are trying to sideline the moderates led by
Powell.... These charges are in addition
to the allegation of Syrian support to "terrorists". Which is the
Israeli-American euphemism for those fighting for Palestine's freedom. Is the
stage now being set for another drama of death and destruction in another Arab
country? This time the "coalition" could even include Israel, which
already is there--though behind the scenes--in the Iraqi war.... One only hopes the Bush administration is
aware of what the outcome for America's relations with the Arab-Islamic world
will be if the Zionist lobby succeeds in prodding the US-led coalition to
AFRICA / W. HEMISPHERE
SOUTH AFRICA: "After
Afrikaans-language Rapport declared (4/13): "The biggest challenge in coming months
will however be to install successful and credible transitionary Iraqi
government...a prerequisite being that the UN plays a meaningful role...without
which a future government in Iraq will always labor under the suspicion of
being a puppet of Washington.... A
formidable task awaits Pres. Bush to try and regain trust of Arab world...the
key being...apart from Iraq...a speedy answer to the Israeli-Palestine question.... Should Bush manage to install a credible
government in Iraq and a safer Israel next to a more viable, independent
Palestine, it can start a new era. Even
the biggest critics of Bush should give him a fair chance (to accomplish
Iraq From Profiteers, Proselytizers"
Jim Travers commented in the liberal Toronto Star
(4/12): "To spike that fearful
notion, to convince Arabs that Bush's road map to Middle East peace doesn't
detour through Iran and Syria, Washington needs help. Despite its deep
antipathy to a body steeped in bureaucracy and often-futile debate, the U.S.
needs the logistical support and diplomatic legitimacy only the United Nations
can provide to relief operations and to a new government."
Right-of-center O Globo opined (4/15): "With Saddan Hussein's fall and Iraq in
ruins, it's valid to ask to where is the Middle East going, now that as
everything indicates the U.S. has arrived to stay. It's important to note that the region's
future depends on the result of internal disputes in Washington--at the White
House and the Congress. What trend will prevail in President Bush's
administration? In case the most
bellicose wing of Bush's government prevails--i.e., that of Vice-President Dick
Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Defense Deputy Secretary, Paul
Wolfowitz--there is the risk of the American military action be extended to
Syria and Iran. That's not an auspicious
possibility and fortunately not a likely one.
The use of force to overthrow Saddam Hussein is per se a resource of
questionable efficiency as a an instrument of stabilization. To use the same
method against other autocratic regimes in the Middle East would be an
extremely fearful, even senseless adventure.
The Bush administration could help repair the damage caused by his
unilateral impetuosity if it used this moment to try to solve the
Palestinian-Israeli issue. Rather than
sending troops to Syria, he should exert economic pressures on the Damascan
government to stop to logistically financing and supporting terrorist
groups--and start negotiating again with Israel over Golan's destiny and other
areas. The Arab world sees the war as a
brutal U.S. recourse to guarantee oil, supply and strengthen Israel's position. A way to change this bad impression would be
to convince Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to give up impossible strategies such
as the settlements. Hasn't Sharon
himself asserted that the Iraq war has 'opened prospects of great changes?' The
new Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas is already trying to form a
government that may please Bush's demands.
As one sees, there is a positive atmosphere to channel the forces
unleashed by the military action."