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April 09, 2003

Impotence, rage fuel opinions in Arab press

An interesting piece in The Washington Times explores the rage in the arab world and its fears of a new Iraq in the region
NICOSIA, Cyprus — The war against Iraq has created a mood of torment, confusion, fear, impotence and political paralysis across the Arab world.

From the Persian Gulf to Morocco's Atlantic coast, Arab analysts portray a region baffled by events and fearful of their consequences.

They see Israel in ascendancy, the Palestinian cause weakened and Iraq fractured in the event of the U.S.-led coalition's victory, which appears inevitable. Fueled by television footage of civilian victims, anti-Americanism is rising across the whole area.

The Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, published in London, described the conflict in Iraq as "an ugly war of retaliation which will make even those who sought it curse the day their mothers brought them to life."

Although welcomed by some, the prospect of a democratic government in Iraq has cast fear among Persian Gulf monarchs, whose thrones bob on billions of barrels of oil and who worry about a contagion of democracy.

Abdelazim Ramadan, writing in Cairo's Al-Jumhuriyah, says most Arabs are convinced that above all, "the real objective of this war the United States is waging on Iraq has been made obvious, in an unprecedented manner, which is to seize the Iraqi oil."

Egyptian officials worry that a new government in Baghdad would displace Cairo "as the center of gravity in the Arab world." Calls are multiplying in Egypt for a boycott of U.S. goods and revised relations between Cairo and Washington.

To Syria's President Bashar Assad, who feels vulnerable to crosscurrents sweeping over his Middle Eastern country, the United States wants to "redraw the map of the region by dividing Iraq into sectarian [more]