- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Crisis waiting to happen

Gareth Evans has tackled crises in some of the world's most unstable countries, but he was still shocked to see the devastation caused by the attacks on America.

Mr. Evans, a former foreign minister of Australia, was asked to write an opinion article for one of his country's newspapers.

"I was numb. It was indescribable. It took me longer than it has taken me to write anything in my life," he said during a visit to The Washington Times yesterday.

Mr. Evans, president of the International Crisis Group, was here for a regularly scheduled visit to his Washington office and took the opportunity to check his sources to try to find out what the Bush administration was really planning to do.

"They told me they had no idea. That relieved me," he said, explaining that a period of planning and reflection was better than striking back recklessly at the risk of inflaming the Muslim world.

"If you mount what is perceived as a crusade against Islam, you make things infinitely worse," he said.

Mr. Evans said he is encouraged by the Bush administration's efforts to build a coalition against terrorism, especially the role played by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. He also said Vice President Richard B. Cheney understands the complexity of the situation.

He said much of the terrorist problem is caused by a "small core of Islamic militants" taking advantage of "genuine grievances" and building resistance to the West.

"This is the last twitch of the cultural rear guard," he said.

Mr. Evans urged the United States to strike carefully because, "if you miscalculate, you create a new generation of widows and orphans" and more fodder for the terrorists.

Saudi diplomatic aid

The Saudi Arabian Embassy is providing legal assistance to Saudi citizens detained in the investigation of last week's terrorist attacks.

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan yesterday told the official Saudi Press Agency, "Most of the Saudi citizens who were interrogated by the U.S. authorities have been freed. Those who are still under interrogation are being provided with assistance and lawyers by the embassy."

Prince Bandar also said the embassy is monitoring Saudi students in the United States after reports that some have been harassed by U.S. citizens so angered by the suicide hijackings that they are blaming anyone of Arab descent.

Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in attacks, was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 for his terrorist activities.

Prince Bandar said some Saudi students have been moved into what he called "safe hotels." The embassy has helped other students return to Saudi Arabia or relocated them to safer areas, he said.

'Enduring relationship'

The U.S. ambassador to Jordan yesterday thanked Jordanians for the support they showed to the United States after the terrorist attacks.

"On Sept. 15 and 16 thousands of Jordanians offered condolences by coming to the U.S. Embassy or by sending telegrams, faxes or flower wreaths," Ambassador Edward William Gnehm Jr. said in a statement. "This demonstrates the deep and enduring relationship between the people of Jordan and the United States."

'Pentagon Road'

Israel has temporarily renamed two roads to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks, in what the U.S. ambassador called a "gesture of friendship."

Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer yesterday said Tel Aviv's Kaplan Street, the main road outside the defense ministry, will be known as "Pentagon Road" for the next two weeks in memory of those killed at the Pentagon.

On Sunday, Jerusalem Mayor Ehujd Olmert renamed the city's central Jaffa Street "New York Street" to honor the victims of the World Trade Center attack.

"This is a gesture of friendship between our two people," said Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer. "We will act to conquer terrorism in the free world."

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