Gulf Nations Balking at U.S. Campaign Against Terrorism

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Gulf nations balking at U.S. campaign

Special to World Tribune.com

MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE Copyright, Fair Use for Educational and Research Purposes Only

Monday, September 17, 2001

CAIRO Arab states are becoming increasingly wary of a proposed U.S. campaign against international terrorism. Virtually all Arab League members appear unwilling to supply military troops or provide logistical support for U.S. or Western forces in any attack against Saudi billionaire fugitive Osama Bin Laden or any of his government sponsors, Arab diplomatic sources said. The United States is believed to require bases in the Persian Gulf and Pakistan to launch a sustained attack on Bin Laden bases in Afghanistan.

The sources said many governments in the Middle East have expressed reservations over a demand by the United States to join an international coalition against terrorism and have imposed conditions on such participation. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said such a coalition must be under the auspices of the United Nations. Instead of military retaliation, Mubarak has called for an international conference against terrorism under UN auspices. "A coalition grouping a select number of countries must not be formed since that will not permit decisive and collective international action against terrorism," Mubarak said. "It would be better to hold an international conference against terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations to adopt binding resolutions for all the countries of the world."

Gulf Cooperation Council states are said to be particularly worried over a U.S. attack. The fear, Gulf diplomatic sources, is that they will be face both a domestic backlash as well as Iraqi-sponsored insurgency attacks. "There is no doubt that the situation is dangerous and that nobody knows what will happen," a Gulf Arab official told the London-based Al Hayat daily on Monday. "The Americans are intent on a military operation and we can only hope that this will not have repercussions on the region." Some Arab League members, such as Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, have expressed willingness to provide the United States with intelligence information on Islamic insurgents said to be aligned with Bin Laden. Algeria has already submitted a list of 350 names.

In Israel, officials have endorsed a U.S. coalition against terrorism. But the government appears divided over a U.S. demand to meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Peres said Arafat has given his security agencies an order to stop fire against Israel. Peres said he received such information from Israeli intelligence agencies.

For his part, Arafat said he is ready to meet Peres at any time and at any place. Sharon has stopped Peres from meeting Arafat. But he said he would allow such a meeting if the Palestinians impose 48 hours of calm. "If there are 48 hours of absolute calm, Shimon Peres will meet Arafat to further discuss a ceasefire," Sharon said.

Israeli military sources, however, have warned the government of repercussions of any U.S. attack on Iraq. The sources said such an attack would result in Iraq firing the remainder of its medium-range ballistic missiles toward Israel. A leading analyst, Haifa University's Amatzia Baram said the missiles would probably be tipped with chemical warheads.

-- Robert A Riggs (rxr.999@worldnet.att.net), September 17, 2001


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