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February 21, 2003

Ghassan Tueni Raises 3 Alternatives to a U.S. Invasion of Iraq

This short piece is a good index to the worry confronting Arab states in the region should the U.S. attack Iraq.
Naharnet -Ghassan Tueni suggested on Monday three alternatives to a U.S. invasion of Iraq that would destabilize the existing Arab regimes and plunge the entire region into turmoil.

Tueni, in his weekly front-page editorial in An Nahar, said the silence of Arab leaders toward regional developments stemmed from "fear" and "a lack of courage" to face the prospects of their turns coming up after Saddam Hussein's.

He concurred with the legendary historian, the late Costantine Zreik, who had lamented the neutralization of "Arab intellectuals" - ostracized by their societies and lured by the ruling regimes.

Tueni zeroed in on three new factors influencing the standoff between the United States and Iraq, which could be exploited by the Arabs and Muslims, to revoke what is widely perceived as an inescapable war path.

Washington has failed to lure the Arab and Muslim masses with promised war dividends, given its history of failing to support alternative regimes it created, Tueni suggested. The prophecies of a "new order" in the Middle East, where "Americanized democracies would replace oppressive tyrannies," remain unconvincing.

Another point Tueni raised was the possibility of mounting support for "force without the use of force" - a Henry Kissinger concept that gambles on the intimidation of rogue regimes with the formidable muscle flexing of the fighting powers coupled with dramatic hit-and-run adventures, which would encourage "revolutions" from within.

A third, face-saving solution to the crisis, he said, would be for the U.N. Security Council to adopt a European-Russian resolution authorizing the intervention of an "international force," morally supported by Kissinger's "force without the use of force," to end Saddam Hussein's rule.

Only one of these tree options would spare the world, and the Middle East in particular, a rapid slide into total chaos, Tueni wrote.

As for the Arabs, and in order to make their voices heard, it is time to solicit the support of Washington's rivals at the Security Council - such as Russia, China and France - for an international peace conference to address the Iraq and Palestine issues, Tueni noted.

Such a parley would be held before any military adventure in the Gulf, he said, ridiculing Arab league plans to convene its annual summit on March 15, "to be briefed on the results of the war," rather than actively engaging in reshaping the future. "What's the rush?" Tueni sarcastically noted