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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03AMMAN1253 2003-03-03 12:15:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

MEDIA REACTION ON THE ARAB SUMMIT AND THE

Tags:   KMDR JO 
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 001253

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ARN, NEA/PA, NEA/AIA, INR/NESA, R/MR,
I/GNEA, B/BXN, B/BRN, NEA/PPD, NEA/IPA FOR ALTERMAN
USAID/ANE/MEA
LONDON FOR GOLDRICH
PARIS FOR O'FRIEL
USCINCCENT//CCPA, USCENTCOM REAR MACDILL AFB FL
STATE PASS TO AID

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KMDR JO
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION ON THE ARAB SUMMIT AND THE
PRESIDENT'S 02/26 SPEECH


Summary

-- Lead coverage in all papers March 2-3 is dedicated
to the Arab summit meeting in Sharm el-Shaikh. All
papers March 2 carry banner headlines highlighting the
summit meeting's final communiqu declaring
"rejection" of military action against Iraq. All
papers also highlight details of King Abdullah's
speech to the summit meeting. Majority of editorial
commentary March 2 reiterates the King's remarks
stressing the need to "use all means to spare this
region a war". Other commentaries focus on the
success of the summit in achieving a "unified" Arab
stand against a war on Iraq.

Editorial Commentary on The Arab Summit

-- "Serious talks at the Sharm el-Shaikh summit"

Columnist Tarek Masarweh writes on the back page of
semi-official, influential Arabic daily Al-Rai
(03/03): "The categorical Arab agreement against the
war says something more serious than that. It is
saying that the American and British presence on Arab
territories is, from a practical viewpoint, an
occupation. Since Kuwait, Saudi, Qatar and Bahrain
reject the war that the United States and Britain mean
to wage against Iraq, then the military build-up on
their territories.is an abuse of security treaties,
which were approved for the purpose of protecting
(these countries) against outside aggression, and not
for the purpose of becoming bases and launch-pads for
aggression against neighboring countries."

-- "The summit's decisions, who will buy them?"

Columnist Sultan Hattab writes on the op-ed page of
semi-official, influential Arabic daily Al-Rai
(03/03): "The United States does not want advice on
what it needs to do from the Arab summit. It rather
wants the Arab summit to help carry out American
schemes. Since this did not happen, it is expected
that the United States will either respond to the
summit's decisions or completely ignore them, and turn
its attention to its bilateral contacts and
relationships with Arab countries and to what has
already been achieved in those areas and not stated in
the summit's communiqu.. The war is coming and the
Arab summit's decisions are powerless and lack action.
They have come too late."

-- "The summit of fears and contradictions and
agreement"

Chief Editor Taher Udwan writes on the back page of
independent, mass-appeal Arabic daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm
(03/03): "The only value of the Sharm el-Shaikh
communiqu is that it has shown all the Arabs
rejecting the war. Despite the fact that American
armies will in reality launch operations from Arab
territories, the consensus agreement gives the
impression that the United States is abusing its
security agreements with the Arab countries to serve
its own wars and interests that contradict the
interests and desires of the Arabs. Arab leaders had
their backs against a wall and they would not have
been able to survive the failure of the summit
meeting. They had no choice but to agree to the final
communiqu. This shows that the Arab countries feel
that the war on Iraq carries so much danger for
themselves that they have to put aside their conflicts
and disagreements. Everyone in Sharm el-Shaikh was
realistic, particularly after President Bush's most
recent speech where he said that Iraq would be the
beginning of change in the Middle East. This means
s
that America's intervention in the future of Arab
regimes will not be limited to Iraq and Palestine but
will affect other Arab countries.. The summit can be
described as a summit of pressures, worry, fear,
conflicts and contradictions, but it did breakthrough
towards a unified stand of rejecting the war. This,
in itself, is important because it denies Washington
legitimacy for its war."


Editorial Commentary on President Bush 02/26 Speech

-- "Nothing but a promise"

Columnist Dr. Musa Keilani writes on the op-ed page of
centrist, influential among the elite English daily
Jordan Times (03/02): "U.S. President George W.
Bush's promise to turn his attention to Palestine
after Iraq . reminds us of a similar pledge by his
father in 1990 ad of what actually happened since
then. Indeed, Bush the father fulfilled half of that
pledge by arranging the 1991 Middle East peace
conference in Madrid where what was then described as
historic peace talks began between the Arabs and
Israel. What do we have in our sights today to expect
a situation different under Bush the son? We have yet
to see a commitment on the part of Bush Jr. to ending
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we see it as
unlikely that Washington has new ideas to advance this
quest. Bush's promise is not worth much unless
accompanied by a clear outline of the process that
would lead to the realization of the quartet's
`roadmap for peace'. We do appreciate that the
ultimate point in that `roadmap' is a Palestinian
state. But we have no idea what it would take for the
Palestinians to get there. More importantly, we have
no assurance that pressure would be applied on Israeli
to accept reason, logic, international legitimacy and
a desire for peace based on the genuine rights of the
Palestinians.. Until and unless we see concrete signs
of a paradigm shift in the U.S. approach and
Washington's acceptance of the truth that it is its
blind backing for Israel that has distorted any
sincere and honest search for peace, we are afraid
that Bush's promise is nothing but just that - a
promise."

-- "Bush and the `post-war speech'"

Daily columnist Urayb Rintawi writes on the op-ed page
of center-left, influential Arabic daily Al-Dustour
(03/02): "The `post-war speech' delivered by the U.S.
President at the American Enterprise Institute
sketched the outlines of U.S. strategy in the Middle
East and highlighted the principles of `post-Saddam
Hussein Iraq'.. A federal, democratic, modern Iraq,
serving to bring security and stability to the region,
providing the example for political reform for the
entire Middle East; an Iraq that will be able to
export oil to world markets and add a modern ruling
regime to the Middle East. An Iraq of this kind
cannot be under occupation and military rule, unless
we are talking about a short transitional period. An
Iraq that lives under American generals or even
civilian rulers could become an agent for the
Americans, and then with time turn into the core of
instability in the region and a source for a new wave
of terrorism. Our problem with the `American vision'
of Iraq lies in three aspects: The first is that the
advancement of Iraqi democracy will not replace the
need for advancement on the Palestinian political
track. The second is that U.S. policy in general has
always been characterized by pragmatism and a short
attention span. It is not unlikely that Washington
would renege on all its pledges and promises at the
first signs of a crisis or resistance. The third
aspect is that U.S. foreign policy is greatly
influenced by domestic calculations and considerations
that are determined by opportunist pressure groups
that have their own interests to serve."
GNEHM