- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 30, 2003

NICOSIA, Cyprus A wave of demonstrations, strikes and increasingly shrill newspaper headlines are raising questions about the stability of President Hosni Mubarak's Egyptian government in the event of a prolonged war in Iraq.
The pressure, which is also affecting other pro-American administrations in the Arab world, built yesterday with particularly virulent headlines denouncing an explosion Friday that killed more than 60 civilians in Baghdad.
"The [Egyptian] regime fears the impact of demonstrations, which invariably start by denouncing America and Israel, and end up demanding Mubarak's resignation," said Mustapha Kamel el-Sayed, a professor at Cairo University.
"Anger is rising; bitterness and a hatred of America are growing," he said.
Egyptian newspapers, like those in other Arab capitals, carried vitriolic banner headlines yesterday, accusing the United States of responsibility for the carnage in a Baghdad marketplace Friday. U.S. officials say they are not certain of the cause, but it is widely assumed in the Arab world to have been caused by an American missile.
"Dreadful massacre in Baghdad," said the headline in Egypt's mass-circulation Akhbar al-Youm newspaper, with half its front page covered by photographs of two young victims of the blast in the rundown Shula neighborhood.
"Martyrs' blood flows yet again in Baghdad," said Bahrain's Akhbar al-Khaleej. In Yemen, the Thawra newspaper spoke of a "new atrocity and humanitarian disaster committed by the Americans." And in Saudi Arabia, the popular Al Riyadh daily proclaimed: "Yet another massacre by the coalition of invaders."
The anger seethed in the streets of Cairo, where businesswoman Rawya Shaker was quoted by Reuters news agency yesterday as saying, "This is colonialism; this is an aggression against innocent people. This is something even an infidel wouldn't do."
The same fury was heard throughout the region. In Damascus yesterday, Syrian residents were quoted denouncing as lies the charge by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that Syria was sending military supplies to Iraq.
The anger about Mr. Mubarak's support for Washington coincides with economic difficulties that are being exploited by opposition forces.
The opposition Labor Party has stepped up its demands for Mr. Mubarak's resignation, particularly attacking his request for a $4.4 billion aid package from the United States to offset expected economic damage from the war.
"This means that [Mr. Mubarak] is seeking a price for Egypt's silence over the aggression," said Majdi Ahmad Husayn, the party's secretary general. "In fact, he has used the aggression as a means of making Egypt a more subservient lackey of the infidel enemy, which is fighting us."

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