April 30, 2004
AMMAN/DAMASCUS TERROR CELLS TARGET ARAB
** The blasts in Damascus
show that Islamic extremists are targeting Syria.
** The attacks
"contradict...optimistic judgments" that the war on terror is
** Arab dailies blame the
"spread of terrorist activities" on "Washington's extremist
** Critics of Syria allege
Assad's "terrorist state" seeks to "pose as a victim" of
'Stability in Syria is more fake than real'-- Non-Arab papers agreed Syria's
"reputation for maintaining iron-clad internal security exceeds realities
on the ground" in the "last Baathist state." Italy's business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore
opined that the "long truce that marked the leadership of the late
President Hafez [Assad] is over."
Several dailies judged the attacks "could well have been
orchestrated by al-Qaida," as "Islamic terror" seeks the
"ouster of the godless Arab rulers."
Britain's conservative Times advised President Bashar Assad to
"implement sweeping change" to "face down his Islamist
enemies"; a German analyst sought "quick and massive Western
support" for Jordan's "path to modernity."
'Far from being eradicated,' the terror threat 'has
proliferated'-- Several Euro and Arab
dailies said the "series of subversive terrorist attacks" prove
terror "is spreading."
Germany's right-of-center Die Welt observed that its
"totalitarian death cult and its new capability to kill people in
masses" makes al-Qaida unique and extremely dangerous. Others demanded a "radical
rethinking" in the West's war on terror, urging "political
answers...that do greater justice to the needs" of potential terrorists so
as to avoid the "apocalyptic consequences."
The U.S. must address 'the root causes of terrorism: Arab grievances'-- Most Arab writers alleged "Washington's
Middle East policies invited terrorist acts." Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Watan
explained that the "deterioration of security in Iraq and Palestine"
caused "escalated chaos and anger" that has boosted support for
terrorism. Lebanon's pro-Syria Ash-Sharq
held that "thanks to Washington, terror has taken on new
dimensions." A Bahraini writer
concluded that "Bush and his team of Zionists turned the war against
terrorism into a clash of civilizations."
Similarly, Croatian and French writers saw the "Bush-Sharon
agreements" providing a ready-made "pretext" for terrorism.
'Assad is playing a double game'--
and Israeli outlets said that the Damascus blast "repairs Syria's
image" after years of offering "refuge to all sorts of extremist and
terrorist organizations." Terming
the attack an "unequivocal message" from al-Qaida to Damascus to
cease its double-dealing, Israel's pluralist Yediot Aharonot depicted
Assad as "discreetly" conveying intelligence to the U.S. even as
Syria serves as "a transit camp for terrorists." Rightist Euro papers also noted the
"ambivalent attitude of the Syrian regime towards violence," with
France's Le Figaro predicting Syria "might change sides" to
openly join the anti-terror coalition despite Washington's oft-stated distaste
for Assad's "authoritarian" regime.
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media
Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a
representative picture of local editorial opinion. This report summarizes and interprets foreign
editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.
Government. This analysis was based on
36 reports from 17 countries over 28 - 29 April 2004. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
"Regime Changing: Rival
Groups Are Jostling For Power In Syria"
An editorial in the conservative Times read (4/29): "A power struggle is taking place
beneath the surface as the instability of Iraq and Syria's growing unpopularity
in Lebanon increase domestic political tension.
Mr. Assad's only hope is to seize the initiative, somewhat belatedly,
implement sweeping change at considerable speed and face down his Islamist
enemies. Syria cannot afford more
sterile rhetoric combined with barely token reforms in practice. The Damascus explosions suggest that time may
be running out for a tainted regime."
FRANCE: 'The Fires Are
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (4/29): “And now, Syria.... Since 9/11, terrorism has become a sort of
automatic method of expression utilized by radical minorities… In Damascus, the
message was aimed at the UN, intimating that it should not consider taking the
relay of the ‘allies’ in Iraq. One year
after the fall of Saddam’s regime, meant to avenge 9/11 and assail terrorism,
terror has proliferated. Far from having
been eradicated, it is spreading. The
Bush-Sharon agreements reached with total disregard for multilateralism are one
more pretext offered to terrorism. Where
is the world’s firefighter?”
"Washington’s Ambivalence Towards Syria"
Philippe Gilie held in right-of-center Le Figaro
(4/29): “Legislation sanctioning Syria
has been sitting on President Bush’s desk for months.... After Tuesday’s attack in Damascus, it may
sleep a while longer.... The latest
incident in Damascus could lead Washington to once more try to find a point of
equilibrium. The Bush administration
does not really know how to act towards Syria’s authoritarian, secular and
anti-Israeli regime.... In spite of the
fact that Syria is on the State Department’s black list, it is the only country
from that list with which Washington maintains diplomatic relations.... Washington has nevertheless many grievances
against Syria...including the fact that it is hampering the U.S. in its
activities in Iraq.... Washington is
also accusing Bachir el-Assad of allowing terrorists and weapons to enter
Iraq.... In a recent Al-Jazeera
interview, the Syrian President reiterated ‘the legitimacy of anti-American
resistance.’ Tension reached such levels
that Damascus has at times appeared as a possible target of President Bush’s
war against terrorism. But if Syria
becomes the victim of terrorism, it might change sides.”
GERMANY: "A New
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger concluded in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (4/29): "The attacks
that were carried out or prepared in Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan
are directed against nations whose leaderships have more or less close
relations with the United States, even though they are not without
tensions. They are allies. The attack in Syria does not fit this
pattern.... This is why it is all the
more remarkable that the leadership in Damascus is now joining the anti-al
Qaida front.... Whatever the examination
of the Islamic terror proliferators may produce--two directions are already
visible: an anti-western, anti-American
one and an inner-Islamic one that is directed against allegedly un-Islamic,
corrupt, westernized leaderships. Even a
repressive regime like the one in Syria is becoming a target. This enemy creates strange alliances of
victims. But what is the political
Dietrich Alexander said in right-of-center Die Welt of
Berlin (4/29): "Syria has joined
those Arabic-Islamic countries that are accused by the totalitarian Islamists
of Al Qaida of not following the rules of 'true Islam'--and it is Osama bin Laden
who has the sovereignty to interpret it.
It is obvious that the Islamic criminals want to spread and provoke a
conflagration. In their eyes all
Arab-Islamic regimes are collaborators, who have at least left the right
path. This is why violence hits them
all: Saudi Arabia, but also Morocco,
Turkey, Indonesia; a chemical attack in Jordan was only recently
prevented. Following the attacks on the
hostile culture of 'unbelievers,' Islamic terror is again focusing on its
primary goal: the ouster of the 'godless' Arab rulers."
Jochen Bittner and Michael Thumann opined in center-left weekly Die
Zeit of Hamburg (4/29): "If
Osama bin Laden is ever been caught, Islamic terrorist should not grieve; he
has a successor...called Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.... It is unclear whether he is behind the most
recent bomb attacks in Damascus, but it is no coincidence that he selected his
homeland Jordan for the planned devastating bomb attack. Like bin Laden, al-Zarqawi is considered an
outcast in his own country; like bin Laden, he is the most dangerous opponent
of his own government.... He has
sufficient reasons to hate the Jordanian Monarchy.... But what is to do with the western model
pupil in the Middle East? Zarqawi thinks
the monarchy should be bombed away. We
think that Jordan needs quick and massive western support to allow it to
continue its path to modernity. And the
best would be that those offer help who do not loudly speak about it."
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch declared in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (4/28): "Even though
reports [from Jordan] are exaggerated, these reports are, nevertheless,
scary. In the Saudi capital of Riyadh
strong explosions occurred at the same time when terrorists wanted to strike in
Amman. Near Kandahar, President Karzai
escaped an assassination attempt, and in Iraq, the attacks continue. We often hear that the Al Qaida network and
its terrorist cells have been weakened through anti-terrorism measures. But the seriousness of the planned attacks
and the ones that were carried out contradict such optimistic judgments. In view of the news we hear from Jordan,
western societies like ours must get scared, even though they may be
"Problems Cannot Be Resolved"
Birgit Kaspar commented on regional radio stations Westdeutscher
Rundfunk of Cologne (4/28) and Norddeutscher Rundfunk of Hamburg
(4/28): "The increase in explosions
in the Middle East shows mainly one thing:
With the usual means, i.e. more suppression, more counter violence, and
the usual finger pointing to Al Qaida, problems cannot be resolved, neither in
Saudi Arabia nor in Jordan, neither in Iraq nor in Palestine. It will only help resolve symptoms on a
short-term basis. Political answers are
necessary that do greater justice to the needs of the people. This cries out for a radical rethinking,
including in the West. But nobody seems
to be willing to do this."
Peter Muench judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (4/28): "The figures and
scenarios we have now heard from Amman are shaking us out and they should do
so...but not everything should be taken at face value. Even though explosives and chemical agents
were found and even though captives confessed on state-run TV, the alleged
monstrosity of the planned attacks has not been proven. First of all, Jordan security forces have
proven that they were on their guard.
But there is no doubt that the hatred of the terrorists is--in addition
to the western states--directed even more against those regimes in the Arab
world that are accused of giving up the right belief and of collaboration. In Saudi Arabia, this was proven with bombs a
while ago, and now Jordan is in the crosshairs.
The fact that such an attack would have hit not only governments but
would also have resulted in the death of many innocent victims should also
shake up those on Arab streets who consider the terrorists heroes. The fight against terrorism is indeed a
common task for the West and the Muslim world."
"Mass Murder Is Possible"
Jacques Schuster held in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin
(4/28): "For the first time in
history, terrorism seems to really succeed in shaking up the foundations of
societies. The reason is based on the newly acquired capability of terrorists
to use WMD. Now all states, including
Germany, must wonder whether they are prepared for such attacks, since one
thing is certain, more attacks will come, and they will not stop at Europe's
borders. In its craze to destroy,
al-Qaida does not make a difference between Muslims and Christians, Europeans
and Americans. It is only interested in
mass murder as such.... Talks and
negotiations, roundtables and appeasement are senseless because they are signs
of decadence and symbols of a pagan world for Al Qaida. This totalitarian death cut and its new
capability to kill people in masses makes Al Qaida unique and so
dangerous. We can only hope that we are
capable of coming to terms with such a threat."
Clemens Wergin concluded in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of
Berlin (4/28): "One thing should be
clear: Osama bin Laden as well as the new terror pope Abu Musab al Zarqawi will
use WMD if they have them. The averted
attack from Jordan means two things: On
the one hand, it makes clear: future
attacks could kill even more people than died on 9/11. On the other, the success of Jordan's security
agencies also means that terrorists can be tracked down in their preparatory
stages and that attacks can be prevented.
And this is good news."
ITALY: "Syria, Mystery
Surrounds Blitz--An Arsenal In Damascus"
Left-leaning, influential La Repubblica noted (4/29): “The Syrian pax, that cocktail of Arab
nationalism, authoritarianism and socialist-like equality, that permitted a
minority regime to survive for over 40 years amid all kinds of perils, appears
to be in danger.... The attack, which
was bold and confused in its characteristics, aimed at spreading panic more
than at a specific objective.... The
attack remains an irrefutable demonstration that the Syrian regime has many
internal and external enemies. It’s difficult to say whether al-Qaida should be
added to the list of Syria’s many enemies, as Damascus’ ambassador to
"Syria Caught Up In Whirlwind"
Alberto Negri observed in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24
Ore (4/28): “With the end of Saddam
Hussein, Syria has made its way back to the Middle Eastern battle field. Never
before had the regime been this caught up between the grips of the U.S. on it
borders on one side, and U.S. diplomatic pressure and the Israeli military on
the other.... The last Baathist regime
of the Middle East has entered a turbulent phase, even though it is yet unclear
whether yesterday’s terrorist attack in downtown Damascus was aimed against
Syria or against foreigners. One thing is certain: the long truce that marked
the leadership of the late Hafez is over. To his young son Bashar, the U.S. has
sent an explicit message--the Syrian Accountability Act that calls for economic
and diplomatic sanctions. This law on the ‘responsibility of Syria and the
restoration of Lebanese sovereignty’ accuses Damascus of hosting terrorist
movements and of developing WMD, chemical and bacteriological programs.... The situation on the Syrian-Iraqi border
remains red hot: according to the U.S., Damascus is facilitating the infiltration
of hundreds of militants who are going to fight against the coalition.”
"Bashar’s Lay Regime Pays For Commitment Against
Antonio Ferrari opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (4/28): “In tranquil
Damascus, that had been accused of sponsoring terrorism and of contributing to
the destabilization in Iraq, all hell broke loose last night. A series of
simultaneous attacks were carried out against the Embassies of Great Britain,
Canada, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The former UN headquarters went up in
flames.... Yesterday’s attack is the
gravest coordinated attack carried out
in Syria in the last twenty years and it demonstrates how Bashar’s lay state is
now being targeted by Islamic extremists.”
RUSSIA: "Blast Repairs
Aleksandr Reutov observed in business-oriented Kommersant
(4/29): "Syria says that it has
fallen a victim to international terrorism.
The Syrians are sending a message to Washington that they have nothing
to do with terrorism.... For many years
Damascus offered refuge to all sorts of extremist and terrorist
organizations.... In return, Islamists
did not bother the Syrian authorities, acting outside the country. This is why the U.S. listed Syria among
countries sponsoring terrorism. Damascus
did not seem to care. But that changed
after Washington declared a war on international terrorism and led an operation
to occupy Iraq. The Syrians have been
particularly nervous since the U.S. accused them of supporting the Iraqi
resistance and helping Islamic militants get into Iraq. They felt especially
bad last Monday, when neighboring Jordan said it had averted a terrorist
mega-attack. Now, after Tuesday's
accident, Syria must feel like it has had a remission of sorts. Coming under terrorist attack, Damascus has
become one of the antiterrorist coalition."
"Syria Poses As Victim Of Terrorist Attack"
Aleksandr Samokhotkin and Ivan Gorbunov stated in reformist Vremya
Novostey (4/29): "The country
that the Americans often call a sponsor of terrorists has fallen prey to
terror. Yesterday Syrian President
Bashar Assad cautioned the governments of Arab and Western countries against
supporting terrorist groups. It is not
clear what exactly the President meant, but he now seems to pose as a victim of
the attack and one who is fighting terrorism.
As a matter of fact, the saboteurs did not mean to attack the Syrian
authorities, their target was one of the Western countries' diplomatic
Andrey Zlobin said in reformist Vremya Novostey
(4/28): "In September of 2001 Bin
Laden's terrorists killed some 3,000 people in the U.S. Two and a half years later Al Qaida might
have taken about 80,000 lives, most of them Muslims, in Jordan.... The Jordanians and their neighbors are
shocked, seeing the real scale of the terrorist threat. Objectively, this will
help consolidate the position of those forces that are waging a war on Islamic
terrorism. But it will hardly change
Jordanian policies very much, except that Amman may have to use even more
subtle ways, maneuvering between the West and the Islamic East."
"War Without Rules"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant
(4/28): "The example of serene
Jordan is quite indicative. While U.S.
fighting rebels in besieged cities in Iraq, Al Qaida is out to
surprise Washington by taking in the rear.
The aim is not to revenge its Muslim
brethren dying under U.S. cluster bombs in Iraq--after all, had
the attack come off, it might have killed more innocent Muslims than Saddam
Hussein and George Bush have. Wars
without rules know no moral or ethical norms.
So rather than being driven by the irrational feeling of revenge, people
behind the aborted plan, one that is without precedent in Jordanian history,
had a specific and quite rational idea, trying to impair, if not to kill,
President Bush's pet concept of a greater Middle East. So far, this major geopolitical project has
had no luck. To change that, George
Bush is going to submit it to a G8 summit six weeks from now as a viable idea
that may well be implemented. Al Qaida,
for its part, will do anything to stop that from happening. It is trying to scare the world by showing
the kind of apocalyptic consequences the Bush plans may have."
AUSTRIA: "Iraqi Poison
Birgit Cerha remarked in independent Salzburger Nachrichten
(4/29): “Syria, one of the most
America-critical countries of the Arab world, seemed to be immune to Islamist
fanatics almost by nature. After all, Syria consistently supports Palestinian,
particularly Islamist Palestinian guerrillas in their battle against Israel.
However, what happened in Damascus could well have been orchestrated by
al-Qaida. Sunni fundamentalists of Osama Bin Laden’s ilk are among the
staunchest enemies of the Ba’athist rulers in Damascus, who rely on the Alawite
minority in the country, which is not recognized as ‘Muslim’ by the Sunni
extremists.... True, Damascus has
cooperated with Washington to a certain extent in the fight against their
common enemy, al-Qaida. True, Damascus has always resolutely refused
allegations that it allowed hundreds of militants to get into Iraq via the
long, honeycombed border between the two countries.... But in reality, there is plenty of evidence that
extremists are getting into Iraq through Syria. This ambivalent attitude of the
Syrian regime towards violence has given the terrorists in Syria some breathing
space, which could now also endanger one of the most stable regimes in the
"Psychological Dirty Bomb"
Fran Visnar wrote in Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik
(4/28): "Radiological terrorism
scares people and creates large economic difficulties more than it kills, but
it is still a strong psychological weapon.
Anti-terrorist violence must, on the other hand, be a precise
instrument. More a scalpel than a
bludgeon. Because, the
counter-retaliation politics led today by Israel and the U.S. leads us to a
rather simple conclusion: an eye for an
eye until the entire world becomes blind.”
ISRAEL: "The Enigma Of
Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe held (4/29): "A series of explosions shook Damascus's
embassy area on Tuesday. In a short time the Syrian security forces controlled
the situation, and the assessed damage was rather small.... Since we are talking about a dictatorship, it
would be hard to trust those reports....
How is it possible that no Western embassy was harmed? How could the Syrian security services, which
know every single hair on the heads of their citizens, not have known about
Al-Qaida's weapons chances and organizing in Syria? Is it believable that Al Qaida is interested
in implicating Syria with the West whereas it is a terrorist state that has
absolutely no reservations about Al-Qaida activities?.... Syria is a terrorist state, which sponsors
terrorism, including providing human resources to Al Qaida and support to
Hizbullah. The coalition states should
not get excited over fabrications coming out of Damascus. The earlier they attack Syria and overthrow
its regime, the better it will be for the Americans and the new government in
"Attack Shows Region's New Terror Reality"
Zvi Bar'el wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(4/28): "The official Syrian
statement saying terrorists had carried out a series of attacks in Damascus
against the Iranian embassy, the British ambassador's house and apparently a
building belonging to the UN was highly unusual. It was an admission of an intelligence
failure in a country that prides itself on its complete control of what happens
within its territory. As it turns out,
Syria's reputation for maintaining iron-clad internal security exceeds
realities on the ground.... Syria's
intelligence officials now face a new challenge. Up to now, Syrian intelligence has been
ruthlessly efficient in campaigns against domestic underground groups; but it
is apparently less organized for tackling terror activity from outside its
borders. There are apparently some new
features on the map of terror activity in the Middle East. In Arab countries, terror targets are no
longer exclusively Western and UN diplomatic sites, and terror groups now
appear inclined to carry out strikes in all Arab countries."
"Assad's Double Game"
Smadar Perry asserted in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (4/28): "The
deliberately closed eyes of the security services in Syria towards the waves of
terrorists infiltrating Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are intended to safeguard
Syria against terror attacks and the activity of sleeper agents. However, Bashar Assad is playing a double
game. While Syria becomes a transit camp
for terrorists, he also discreetly conveys intelligence information to the U.S.
intelligence agencies regarding some of the terrorists. Dozens of these have been extradited from
Syria to the U.S. since President Bush threatened to include Syria in the 'axis
of evil'.... Tuesday, the terrorist
leaders appear to have conveyed an unequivocal message to intelligence agencies
in Damascus: 'Either you stop cooperating with the British and Americans, or we
will turn Syria into the next battleground.'"
Mahmud Abd-al-Munim asserted in agressive
state-owned Al-Akhbar (4/29):
"Now, it is Syria's turn, but we cannot specify what it would be.
Will Syria become the fourth victim after Afghanistan, Palestine, and
Iraq?.... the terrorist waves in our
region are increasing in violence and diversity as well as in ambiguity.
Ambiguity is not the only feature that characterizes the new wave of violence
in fraternal Syria. A fierce and violent wave that shook the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia preceded it. Explosions took place in Riyadh and terrorists were chased
in Jedda. While matters have been clear in the first three states--Afghanistan,
Palestine, and Iraq--the regrettable events that took place in Saudi Arabia
recently and the events that took place in Syria the day before yesterday have
been ambiguous.... There is no argument
that the region in which we live has become the hotbed of terrorism where
innocent people are killed and blood is shed with no understandable reason.
What is strange and surprising is that what the Americans and the Israelis are
saying totally contradicts the events taking place.... The U.S. and Israel are the direct reason for
the regrettable terrorist incidents that are taking place in the Arab region
and other countries of the world, like Spain.... Unless the countries of the world cooperate
to end this chaos, these events would cause a flare up in a region that has
been secure, quiet, and rich in resources. Now, following the intervention of
the foreign powers, this region has become dominated by disturbances, anxiety,
bloodshed, insecurity, instability, and the displacement of people without
justification. What is happening is a
sinful conspiracy to plunder the resources of this region, particularly the
oil. Oil is behind the ambitions of some big powers like the U.S."
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira stated (4/29): "The common feature between those
terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria was that they all intended
to bring massive death among innocent people.
They showed no concern for death of children, women, and innocent
civilians. In addition, all of them used
weapons with great destructive power....
Furthermore, they confirm the international, or more specifically the
regional, nature of those terrorist operations.
Perhaps this would alert the need for strengthening regional security
"Together Against Terrorism"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (4/29): "The other day in the heart of the
Syrian capital terrorism showed its ugly face once again. An Arab alliance must be formed to combat
these forces of evil that have desecrated and shed the blood of Muslims. We are
in dire need for a comprehensive inter-Arab coalition that would establish a
clear vision and a specific war strategy against terrorism and its
"The Arab World Is A Victim To Terrorism And To Washington’s
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan contended (4/29): "It’s vividly clear that the Arab world
has become a victim of terrorism, and not the western world, as it has been
thought and believed. While the U.S. has
not had any terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, many Arab countries have
been struck by terrorist aggression. The
real victims must not be accused of breeding terrorists in political or legal
terms. The deterioration of security in
Iraq and Palestine has lead to escalated chaos and anger amongst people. This has given the terrorists the power for
their anti-West ideologies. Those who
have caused this unrest are the ones who should be blamed for provoking the
terrorists. Washington’s extremist policies
in Iraq and the unsurpassed support for Israel have contributed to the spread
of terrorist activities in the region."
"U.S. Must Change Its Attitude"
The pro-government English-language Bahrain
Daily Tribune maintained (4/30):
"Terrorists are back targeting the Arab countries these days. A few
days ago they tried to hit targets in Damascus, but the Syrian security forces
neutralised them. Before this incident the Jordanians had a lucky escape when
they eliminated a terrorist cell by killing and apprehending the terrorists who
would have wrecked havoc if they had implemented their plan. Terrorism has been a constant threat in our
part of the world for a long time and we have always mobilised all our
resources to eliminate this menace. Credit is due to the security men and women
who are constantly alert.... But why
this sudden terrorist shifts to our part of the world? The answer is simple.
The U.S. Before 9/11 the US was relaxing
in peace.... While we struggled to fight
the terrorist menace, the US did little to help us.... September 11, 2001 changed all this.... President George W. Bush said things that
made us in this part of the world happy. The Americans were coming on our side
in the fight against terrorism.... But
after starting well with a plan to hit the heart of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan,
they left their work unfinished and shifted their gaze towards Iraq. Apparently
certain lobbies influenced the US administration into shifting gear.... Anyone who doesn’t like U.S. foreign policy
or is an enemy of Israel is automatically categorised as 'terrorist'.... They disbanded the Iraqi army and left the
borders unprotected, thus letting the terrorists in.... The US administration is completely
overlooking the fact that the greatest menace in our part of the world...is the
only terrorist state in our area--Israel. This state has been implementing
state-sponsored terrorism for the past decades against the
Palestinians.... In the American
vocabulary resistance against occupation is 'terrorism' if that resistance is
against Israel.... Bush and his team of
Zionists turned the war against terrorism into a clash of
civilisations...instead of turning the war against the real terrorists such as
Al Qaeda and Israel. By taking this
path, Bush undermined the efforts of the moderates in the Islamic world who
were ready to support him.... America is
as vulnerable today as it was on September 11, 2001. It is time they realised
that no superpower can win a war against terrorism alone. Unless they change
their attitude and fight the real terrorists with the help of those countries
who have the real experience, America will remain frustratingly
Imad Fawzi Shuaibi said in independent Al-Balad
(4/29): "The U.S. should change its
policies toward Syria and address the root causes of terrorism: Arab grievances
in Palestine and Iraq.... Washington's
Middle East policies invited terrorist acts....
Powell--who recently sent a message...calling on Syria to do more to
stabilize the situation in Iraq--should persuade the US administration to mend
its relations with Syria and define terrorism.... Washington's naive terrorism policy had
backfired and led to a surge in attacks....
The way the US was acting in Iraq would create a significant gap between
the Americans and Arabs. The U.S. may succeed in fighting terrorism in the
international arena, but it will not succeed in rebuilding post-war Iraq unless
it summons Syria's cooperation because of Damascus' strategic influence in that
"Urgent Need For Reform"
Ali Hamada wrote in moderate, anti-Syria An-Nahar
(4/29): "The security breach in
Damascus on Tuesday highlighted the urgent need for reform in Syria.... The Lebanese are concerned by these attacks
because any destabilization of Syria will have grave ripple effects in
Lebanon.... Most Lebanese expressed
concern, not because they are buttering up Damascus in their quest for a role
in Lebanese politics, but because of the mutual interests shared by Lebanon and
Syria and the cold strategic realities of the region. Syria's opponents in Lebanon should not gloat
over Damascus' plight as the Syrian regime is still strong enough to maintain
its tight grip on Lebanon. A drastic change of this situation is not possible
in the foreseeable future.... On the
other hand, the pro-Syrian Lebanese (who are now in power) should not think
Damascus will tighten the security situation, waive the upcoming presidential
election and next year's general elections, or reshuffle the balance of power
among Lebanese parties to prioritize stability over democracy.... Damascus is under a lot of pressure, but not
to the extent that it will change its policies in Lebanon.... Amid all these developments in the region,
reform seems to be the only guarantee for Damascus and other Arab regimes in
the face of the (political) earthquake that is rocking the region."
"Infiltration Through Borders With
Editor-in-Chief Awni al-Kaaki argued in
pro-Syria Ash-Sharq (4/28):
"Syria was targeted because of its anti-U.S.-Israeli
policies.... Washington's Iraqi-invasion...has
left numerous unprotected gaps in the Iraqi-Syrian and Iraqi-Saudi borders
through which terrorists have been able to infiltrate.... Syria was the first country in the region to
fight terrorism in the 1980s when it crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in
Hama...exiled Muslim extremists found refuge in Western capitals from where
they have criticized the Syrian regime....
The West made the same blunder in supporting Osama bin Laden in the
1980s, refusing to recognize the danger he and his followers posed to the
world--and that the West's wake-up call came on Sept. 11, 2001. However...the U.S. struck back at the Muslim
and Arab world blindly, invading Iraq and turning bin Laden into a legend. If the reports on the foiled terrorist attack
in Jordan that aimed to kill 80,000 people are true, it means that, thanks to
Washington, terror has taken on new dimensions and nowhere in this world is
MOROCCO: "Why All
These Terrorist Attacks"
Mohammed Idrissi Kaitouni maintained in pro-Istiqlal party
French-language L’Opinion (4/28):
"Terrorist attacks have brought to bear a serious prejudice against
the Muslim world and tarnished the Muslims’ reputation in general, hurting the
Arabs’ reputation in particular, who are too easily labeled terrorists.... These attacks serve only to provoke feuds, to
destabilize Muslim countries and to draw them away from the genuine ‘jihad’ in
which they should engage: that of the
struggle against under development, illiteracy, poverty, ignorance, sickness
and need.... We condemn these attacks
and no Muslim who believes in God and his messenger should carry them out.
Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam."
SYRIA: "Those Who Are
Chief Editor Fouad Mardoud commented in the
government-owned English-language Syria Times (4/29): "It is perverse to blame a particular
group or country for any of the terrorist acts in the region although some
people and governments were quick to do so, as if to suggest that 'the chaos
and disturbance in the security and political fields did not have their a hand
in creating the fertile climate for such heinous criminal acts. The chaos in Iraq under occupation is an
extraordinary situation which signals the current atmosphere of acute tension
and diplomatic gridlock that only heightens the risk of this sort of terrorist
act occurring again and again. Occupation and Israel should be blamed for the
mess. The outrage is more than pro forma and the risk of sustained violence, which
Syria and Arabs have warned against , is now increasingly serious."
"Arab National Security Is In Danger"
Arabic-language Dubai-based Al-Bayan editorialized (4/29): "Regarding the abortive terrorist attack
on the diplomatic quarter in Damascus...the criminal incident, surprising as it
was, which has never been experienced by Syria over the past many years, is
part of a series of subversive terrorist attacks that have afflicted many a
country in the region.... The design of
these attacks is to undermine and destabilize the Arab world."
Center-left independent national
English-language Dawn editorialized (4/29): "A veil of secrecy surrounds Tuesday's
grenade attacks and the bombing that rocked the Syrian capital of Damascus. The
attack took place in city's affluent Mazze district where many embassies and
houses of the ruling Baath party leaders are located. Security forces reportedly tried to corner
what they called a group of terrorists after the latter set off a bomb under a
car outside an abandoned building that used to house the UN's country
headquarters. A gun battle then ensued
between the assailants and the security forces during which the terrorists
hurled grenades at the former. Later at night Syrian security forces confirmed
that two terrorists and two passers-by were killed in the operation. Analysts say that the Syrian government
usually uses the term 'terrorists' for Islamic militants. There is some logic
in this perception because, earlier this month, Jordan foiled an attack on its
security services headquarters in Amman which it blamed on Islamic extremists
who, it said, had crossed over from Syria.
However, the last time one heard of a crackdown on Islamists in Syria
was in the early 1980s, when Damascus said it had wiped out Muslim Brotherhood
from its territory. But these are dangerous times, what with the worsening
situation in neighbouring Iraq under American occupation and the Israelis
intensifying their persecution of the Palestinians. On the other hand, the fact that only Israel
and the US stand to gain politically from any prospects of destabilization of
Syria cannot be denied. Since the occupation of Iraq began last year, the US
has repeatedly accused Damascus of harbouring militants and fugitives from
Iraq. The action taken against a group
of 'terrorists' by the Syrian government on Tuesday may well have come about as
a result of American pressure. But this still leaves the riddle of the timing,
motive and choice of the target in Damascus unresolved."
Center-right O Globo declared
(4/28): "It’s not clear yet what
the motivation for yesterday’s attacks in Damascus was. But the fact that one
of the targets was a building that had been previously occupied by the UN is a
bad omen.... It’s fueling old fears of
wide spread political violence...that will spread and affect other countries in
the Middle East. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with no possible solution in
the near future, at least seems to be a manageable task. It is no doubt going
through an extraordinarily difficult phase, however it is not irresolvable. At
the moment, the biggest setback is the combination of several adverse factors:
the presence of Ariel Sharon as the political and military leader of Israel,
the increasing influence of radical Palestinian groups in the occupied
territories, and the lack of credibility of President George Bush as an
impartial mediator. In Iraq, the political
scenario is also discouraging.... The
stability in Syria is more fake than real. Twenty year ago, President Hafez
Assad suffocated an uprising of Islamic fundamentalists. And the U.S. placed
Syria on the blacklist for supporting radical groups like Hammas and Hesbollah.
Together, these facts point to the potential (of Syria) to burst into flames.”