- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

NICOSIA, Cyprus With bitterness, occasional insults and pathos, the Arab world has admitted its impotence in the face of unfolding events in Iraq while warning the United States of a new wave of terror.
From the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean, virtually unanimously, Arab television, newspapers and magazines say the war's aim is U.S. hegemony in the region and control of its vast oil resources. Exceptions are some media outlets in Gulf countries committed to the United States.
The "oil weapon" so far used by the Arabs will soon be in American and British hands, Arab editorialists have warned, and the Palestinian problem will be pushed aside.
Official U.S. explanations and promises of democracy and a better life for Iraqis have had little impact on Arab media outlets so far. Most Arab publications and broadcasts portray the United States and Britain as villains and Iraq the victim.
However, except for noisy demonstrations in Egypt and Yemen, Arab governments have kept control of the restive "Arab street," which on the whole has so far been apparently too stunned to react.
The Arab dilemma is summed up by Jamir Nimri, who wrote in the Jordan Times:
"People are aware that neither they, nor the governments, can do anything to stop the war. They are resigned. But the rage is boiling inside. If there are many civilian casualties, if they start seeing massacres on television, that rage will explode."
In an assessment of the situation, a pro-U.S. Arab diplomat predicted that as the war continues and gains intensity, "Terrorism is projected to increase; Al Qaeda is expected to join the fray. Its operatives are now expected to strike at U.S. targets everywhere."
The Bush administration has not been the only target of Arab wrath. Many publications have blamed the inactivity of their own governments, particularly toward the Arab-Israeli problem.
According to Al-Hayah al-Jadidah, a Palestinian daily, "The Americans have brought their fire to the Baghdad of civilization, history and loftiness because of the weariness, cowardice, plotting and kowtowing to the U.S. master of the Arab regimes."
Commented Saudi Arabia's Abha Al Watan newspaper:
"The Iraq war is only the beginning of the U.S. strategy to redraw the map of the region."
A number of publications in the Middle East and North Africa pointed out the inability of the Arab countries to pull together and the irrelevance of such organizations as the Arab League, whose foreign ministers met in Monday seeking an elusive consensus.
According to the Al Akhbar weekly published in Tunis, "The Arab states have never demonstrated such weakness and impotence. It is true that the Arabs are incapable of facing a force as strong as that of the Americans. But it is also sure that the Iraqi regime contributed to such an alarming state of delinquency. …
"The war is but a prelude to the total seizure of the Middle Eastern oil region. The American objective is to confiscate the oil weapon used by the Arabs."
In a column in Cairo's influential Al Ahram daily, Salmah Ahmad Salamah wrote that the invasion of Iraq has become "the key to resolving international crises. This is something the Arabs have not as yet realized, and they will pay the price sooner or later. …
"We are now facing a new international Mafia, led by the United States."

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