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04AMMAN2366 2004-03-29 10:12:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

MEDIA REACTION ON THE CANCELLATION OF THE

Tags:   KMDR JO 
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 002366

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

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KMDR JO
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION ON THE CANCELLATION OF THE
ARAB SUMMIT

Summary

-- Lead story in all papers today, March 29,
highlights the decision to "indefinitely" postpone the
Arab summit, focusing on the resulting "frustration of
the Arab people", and Egypt's offer to reconvene the
summit in Cairo on April 16. All papers give
prominence to King Abdullah's interview with the
London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, in which he noted his
"shock" at Israel's assassination of Sheikh Yassin and
his emphasis that reform is an internal issue. Front
pages also highlight the Parliament's decision to
approve a rise in the sales tax from 13% to 16% in
Jordan.

Editorial Commentary

-- "The `folkloric tradition' of convening Arab
summits"

Daily columnist Urayb Rintawi writes on the back page
of center-left, influential Arabic daily Al-Dustour
(03/29): "For the past twenty years, the writer of
these lines has had the opportunity to witness a large
number of Arab summits - comprehensive and small-scale
ones, ordinary and emergency ones - only to get a
feeling of suffocation towards the folklore of these
summits and their traditions. In addition to the same
old faces at every summit - not only with respect to
rulers, but also with respect to ministers,
counselors, and media delegations - there exists a
repetitious and rhetorical address that has no effect
on anyone anymore. It neither brings harm nor
benefit.. And when the summit fails to provide
complete and comprehensive answers, we - the masters
of the Arabic language - as usual, resort to beautiful
prose along the lines that the mere convening of an
Arab summit is a national gain not to be
underestimated.

--- "The farce"

Daily columnist Basem Sakijha writes on the op-ed page
of center-left, influential Arabic daily Al-Dustour
(03/29): "The farce that is trying desperately to get
the audience laughing will not find a place to
convene. The landowner does not want it to take place
on his own land, and he has every right to do that.
Tunis, which embraced the Arab League when it
temporarily left Egypt, does not want to be the place
where the coup de grace is administered to the horse
that never won a race and was always behind. Why
would an Arab summit convene when it is already known
that the level of representation would not be summit-
level, that core issues would not be discussed, and
that a clear stand followed by a clear action vis--
vis the issues that are facing the Arab nation could
not be adopted.? It is a summit doomed to fail even
as it opens. The Arab countries evaded the
responsibility by pointing an accusing finger at Tunis
because of its bold decision - typical of the Arab
habit of coming up with conspiratorial explanations.
But this will not harm Tunis, the only country that
agreed to embrace the Palestinian resistance when it
was kicked out of Lebanon."

-- "Convening the summit is a pan-Arab necessity"

Center-left, influential Arabic daily Al-Dustour
(03/29) editorializes: "We do not need to list the
dangers that would evolve around us if we display our
helplessness in creating a stand vis--vis the Israeli
measures against the Palestinian people and against
the peace process and vis--vis the situation in Iraq,
and even vis--vis the reform project that is being
planned externally, or if we come to believe that the
the
Arab League and its pan-Arab programs are over and
done with. We view what happened in Tunis as merely a
passing problem, since the Arabs have become aware of
the need to work towards convening the summit as soon
as possible."

-- "The summit, the failure, the success and the
cancellation"

Daily columnist Yaser Za'atreh writes on the op-ed
page of center-left, influential Arabic daily Al-
Dustour (03/29): "The `indefinite' postponement of
the Arab summit is an expression for the wide gap that
exists between prevailing positions.. We are not
saying this because we are depending on the summit.
However, maintaining the minimum level of Arab
solidarity or let us say an Arab understanding on the
basics is a requirement to serve Arab interests,
particularly when we live in a time where such
solidarity is to be erased from the Arab dictionary by
the American and Zionist parties.. What happened in
Tunis is very regrettable. If some people say that
the blood of Sheikh Yassin has contributed to the
failure of the summit, then it would be better to say
that his blood was not sufficient to bring about a
stand that would be better than the current frailty.
The postponement was the best way to avoid
embarrassment before the people who are at the height
of their anger because of what happened."

-- "The Tunisian event"

Chief Editor Taher Udwan writes on the back page of
independent, mass-appeal Arabic daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm
(03/29): "The decision to postpone the summit was
exceptional in the history of Arab summits because it
was a unilateral decision issued by the host country
and without any consultation with the Arab leaders.
This leads to the conclusion that the Arab regime, as
represented by its highest-ranking institution, namely
the summit institution, has become frail and is
collapsing.. The number of those who are crying the
demise of the summit will shrink in number, because
what happened is difficult to fix and because it is
conclusive proof that the Arab regime are on the edge
of collapse and that what history destroyed cannot be
fixed."
GNEHM