- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

An Algerian precedent?Bilateral relations with the United States are on the upswing, but Algeria remains deeply concerned about the prospects for the U.S.-led mission in Iraq, Ambassador Idriss Jazairy said this week.Algeria “continues to have serious concerns about the trend of events in Iraq,” Mr. Jazairy told an audience at the Middle East Institute, our correspondent David R. Sands reports.”It expects that international law rather than victor’s law should guide the action of the occupying forces so that Iraqi sovereignty is restored and its territorial integrity is preserved.”Many have looked in recent days to Algeria’s 1992 parliamentary elections as a cautionary tale, as the United States and its allies try to build a democratic state in Iraq. The army nullified the election when an Islamic fundamentalist party appeared to have won.Mr. Jazairy, who has served as ambassador here since 1999, said the parallels were by no means exact, but advised that patience and a long-term commitment to educating Iraq’s young in the ways of democracy will be critical.”I do feel that democracy to be credible and sustainable must be built by the people themselves,” he said. “Democracy can’t be imported, it can’t be bombed into a country.”He praised President Bush’s denials that the war in Iraq was part of any larger conflict between the West and the Islamic world.Mr. Jazairy said bilateral relations with Washington have improved markedly in recent years, with economic ties increasing and the United States showing a new sensitivity to Algeria’s struggle with terrorism, particularly in the wake of the September 11 attacks.”It is not surprising that Algeria was one of the first countries to respond positively to President Bush’s call for an international coalition against terrorism,” the ambassador said.He added that the former French colony’s image suffered in the United States in the 1990s because most of the correspondents covering Algeria for U.S. press outlets were based in Paris.Algeria “would very much welcome” more press coverage and contacts with Americans in the coming days, Mr. Jazairy said, “but please send your reporters based here rather than relying on the ones in Paris.”Up from the dustIsraeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon said Israel reaching 55 years old is “nothing short of a miracle,” as he celebrated the Jewish state’s independence day this week with members of Congress and administration officials.”Washington is truly the friendliest place on earth for Israel. The United States is our best friend,” he said.President Truman recognized Israel minutes after it declared independence in 1948. Israel was immediately attacked by its Arab neighbors in the first of three wars.”The celebration … for Israel’s 55th anniversary is nothing short of a miracle. Israel sprang from the desert and dust and swamps without much chance of survival,” Mr. Ayalon said.”We were a broken people who had just lost one-third of our people in the Holocaust. Yet we emerged together with Zionist ideals, and, although we were broken in body, we were never broken in spirit.”Mr. Ayalon, referring to new U.S.-led peace efforts, said Israel looks “ahead with great hope and aspirations, not just for us, but … for the Palestinians [and] for all the Arab neighbors around us.”Gordon England, deputy secretary for Homeland Security, expressed hope for the future.”The world looks forward to the foundations that we have built for the future, for the efforts we have made against terror,” he said. “The people of Israel feel this, and so do people around the world.”Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, said he is “cautiously optimistic” for the prospects of Middle East peace with the appointment of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, recent encouraging remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the publication of the “road map” for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement put together by the Quartet of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia.Rep. Robert Wexler, Florida Democrat, said, “We dream of a future starkly different from the reality facing Israel today — a future where Israeli children grow and flourish free from the burden of terrorism and fear, a future where Arabs and Jews live side by side as equal partners and friends.”•Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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