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March 15, 2003

Some Arabs Show Disappoinment in Leaders

This Israel Daily article points to growing potholes in the Arab Street
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — As a possible war in Iraq nears, many Arabs feel they are watching the same bad movie, with the same predictable plot and most of the same cast.

An intransigent Arab leader taunts Washington and the United Nations. Spats at a summit meant to deal with the crisis underscore Arab disunity. And many say they expect it to end with more humiliation as they watch their leaders, shackled by the obligations to Washington that have kept them in power, helplessly agree to a war.

``It seems that the Arabs have died a while ago, and all that's left of them are ghosts looking for a place in the world of the living,'' wrote Saudi author Turki al-Hamad Sunday in an opinion piece for the Asharq al-Awsat paper.

There is a lot of pent-up anger among Arabs, and not all of it is directed against the traditional Arab foes: Israel and what many consider its backer, the United States.

Many are outraged at what they see as the inability of their leaders to come up with a stand on the Iraq crisis that would, for once in the region's 50 or so years of independence from colonial powers, allow them to hold their heads high.

Instead, thanks to satellite television, every day Arabs are confronted by the sense the Arabs are doing much less than several Western leaders to avert a war. Add to that the embarrassment many felt when an Arab summit in Egypt last weekend made headlines for its display of deep political rifts.

``They never fail to let us down,'' Jordanian Firas Habaybeh, 24, a hotel employee, said. ``Even if they meet for a hundred times more, they'd come up with absolutely nothing.'' [more]