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04AMMAN6881 2004-08-16 12:33:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Amman
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E.O. 12958: N/A



-- The lead story in all papers today, August 16, is
the situation in the Iraqi city of Najaf, with reports
highlighting "preparations" for the "storming" of the
city by U.S. forces. Reports also treat the ongoing
Iraqi National Conference. Another major story is a
reported hunger strike by Palestinian detainees in
Israeli jails and new Israeli "secret" measures to
disrupt the hunger strikes. The recently launched Al-
Ghad Arabic daily published on its front page the
results of a poll carried out on a sample of 1000
people in Jordan about the Jordanian economy and the
Iraqi situation. The poll said that 65% of the
respondents believed that Jordan's economy has not
benefited from the change in Iraq and 48% believed it
unjustified for Jordanian trucks to continue servicing

Editorial Commentary

-- "Chalabi: a victim!"

Columnist Salah Hzayyen writes on the op-ed page of
independent Arabic daily Al-Ghad (08/16): "It would
of course be crazy to defend a person like Ahmad
Chalabi, because he is up to his ears in financial and
administrative corruption.. It is without malice that
we say that U.S. President George Bush is probably the
least smart of all American presidents, something that
has become a central idea for many reporters, artists
and cartoonists. Yet, he has shown himself stupid
enough to fall victim to the misleading efforts of a
person like Ahmad Chalabi, who was the President's
confidant and who was taken advantage in the worst
manner, as being reported by the American media these
days.. Whoever reads the American press these days
would believe that the United States has fallen victim
to malicious advice provided by Ahmad Chalabi.who
misled the United States into the conflict with a
dictator like Saddam Hussein who not only terrorized
the Iraqi people and invaded his Kuwaiti neighbors,
but also accumulated weapons of mass destruction with
which he threatened America itself. All this of
course is ridiculous. America's well-know desires in
the region prompted it to invade Iraq and it is for
this reason that the United States launched a campaign
to prove that the former Iraqi regime was a threat to
the United States.. People like Chalabi have never
been more than pawns in the hands of the great and
massive machine whose desires and aspirations are
boundless. For the sake of such desires, (the U.S.)
is ready to victimize any person, even persons more
important than Chalabi. The point is that the
American regime did not get rid of Chalabi because of
his corruption.. In this sense, Chalabi is not more
than a victim of a regime that holds no value for
people, including those who provided great services up
until that moment when it was time to get rid of them
and throw them in the dustbin of history. In this
dustbin of history, people of the world will find many
names and Chalabi is just the latest."

-- "The war did not stop"

Chief editor Taher Udwan writes on the back-page of
independent, mass-appeal Arabic daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm
(08/16): "After seventeen months of occupation,
American forces continue to fight in Iraq, despite the
fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, the collapse of Al-
Baath state and the return of all the Iraqi `American
parties' to Baghdad. So who is this enemy that the
Americans have been fighting all this time? In the
beginning, this enemy was said to be the members of
the old regime, then it was said to be Al-Qaeda, then
the Wahabis, followed by Zarqawi and infiltrators from
Syria, and now the enemy is said to be Iran and its
followers. The truth that the U.S. administration
does not want its people to know during the elections
campaign is that the enemy that America is fighting
now in Iraq is the entire Iraqi people.. What
democracy is this that the Iraqi National Conference
is trying to launch in Baghdad in view of the renewed
war against the Iraqis? It is an empty democracy that
does not include the opponents, or contrary opinion,
or the representatives of the Shiite and Sunni trends,
or the nationalist and Arab parties. Under the
current formula, the Conference is going to be just
like the temporary government, useless and incapable
to rule absent the presence of 130 thousand fully-
equipped American soldiers."

-- "The American aggression against Najaf"

Daily columnist Fahd Fanek writes on the back-page of
semi-official, influential Arabic daily Al-Rai
(08/16): "The temporary Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad
Alawi had the chance of a lifetime to prove that he is
an independent Iraqi president and a representative of
Iraqi sovereignty. He could have declared his
opposition to the attack on Najaf and asked the
American forces to withdraw from the holy city and
leave him to deal with Muqtada Al-Sadr. But he kept
silent.. The [U.S.] President wants to tell his
people that he did not fail in Iraq and that the
American forces are capable of imposing order and
controlling all the cities and the militias, thus
presenting an image of a victor instead of his current
loser and defeated image, and getting more votes in
his campaign for a second term in office.. The
current battle proved that the war goes on. It has
put a stop to the myth that the resistance movement is
limited to the Sunni triangle, and proved that the
resistance is on a much wider scale, thus confirming
it as national in scope."