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Arab leaders warn no end to terrorism without Mideast solution

g and compass

Yahoo! Asia - News World

Monday, October 1, 2001

Arab leaders warn no end to terrorism without Mideast solution

CAIRO, Oct 1 (AFP) -

Ever since last month's hijacked jetliner attacks on the United States, Arab leaders have warned there will be no end to terrorism without solving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Central to their reasoning is the US administration of President George W. Bush, accused by the Arabs of shunning its commitments to the peace process and blindly backing Israel.

Saudi Arabia has branded the US policy in the Middle East "unfair" and is pressing Washington to revise its position if it wants to wipe out terrorism.

"If they do not review their position toward the Palestinian cause, problems will continue even in those countries. Danger signals are clear and they must face reality," Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz warned.

"The Palestinian issue must be resolved if we aim at uprooting the motives of terrorism in the Arab world," he added.

Syria said that any results of US anti-terrorist strikes would be "transitory" if the root causes of the problem are not addressed.

The ruling party's Al-Baath newspaper criticised Friday's UN resolution forcing all states to cut off sources of finance to terrorists as "incomplete in so far as it only touches upon a single aspect of the problem, while leaving aside the key aspect: the causes that lead to terrorism."

King Abdullah II of Jordan, meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Amman on Sunday, also insisted that a "fair" solution to the conflict with Israel was "the basis of stability and security in the Middle East," an official source said.

The same day in Cairo, Iran and Egypt said they were in total agreement about how the crisis should be handled.

"How can the United States lead the international campaign to fight terrorism when it supports Israel and Israeli terrorism?" Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi asked on a visit to Egypt.

"We must warn America and others not to exploit this matter for its interests or the interests of their allies like Israel," he added, evoking fears that the current crisis could flare into different arenas.

Egyptian political analyst Mohammed Sid Ahmed said there was a threat that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would "take advantage of a spectacular American retaliation to eliminate Arafat."

"Then we would find ourselves with the hard movements like (Palestinian) Islamic Jihad and the situation would spin out of control," he told AFP.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres meanwhile has said he is "convinced" that deputy army chief General Moshe Yahalon wants to kill Arafat, the daily Yediot Aharonot reported Sunday.

Without going into such a hypothesis, a Western diplomat in Cairo said Arab governments fear the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the current crisis could "spill over violently" into their countries.

"We are contemplating terrorist developments here with concern. What will the impact (of the attacks on the US) on domestic opinion?" the diplomat asked.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, survivor of numerous assassination attempts, warned of such a risk as early as June this year.

If Washington does not push for "a solution to the violence (in the Middle East), this violence could turn into terrorism and (the region) could become a scene of horrible terrorism," Mubarak said.

"There must be American action over this issue, because the United States has many interests in the region," Mubarak warned.

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