International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 30, 2004

April 30, 2004





**  The blasts in Damascus show that Islamic extremists are targeting Syria.

**  The attacks "contradict...optimistic judgments" that the war on terror is succeeding.

**  Arab dailies blame the "spread of terrorist activities" on "Washington's extremist policies."

**  Critics of Syria allege Assad's "terrorist state" seeks to "pose as a victim" of terrorism.




'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'--  Russian 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.




BRITAIN:  "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 Spreading"


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 Target"


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 conclusion?"




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."


"Chief Terrorists"


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 exaggerated."


"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."


"Joint Enemy"


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."


"Strong Nerves"


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 Washington suggested.”


"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 Terrorism"


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 Syria's Image"


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 missions."


"Delayed Doomsday"


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. troops are

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 Hits Syria"


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 region.”


CROATIA:  "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 Syria's Explosions"


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 Iraq."


"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.'"


EGYPT:  "Words"


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."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Regional Terrorism"


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 cooperation."


"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 supporters." 


"The Arab World Is A Victim To Terrorism And To Washington’s Extremism"


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."


BAHRAIN:  "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 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 vulnerable."


LEBANON:  "Change Policies"


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 country."


"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 Iraq"


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 safe anymore."


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 To Blame"


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."


UAE:  "Arab National Security Is In Danger"


Government-owned business-oriented 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."




PAKISTAN:  "Damascus Bombing"


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."




BRAZIL: "Discouragement"


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.”



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