"Arab hostility towards America worse than ever ", Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Says
10:38am 21st Apr, 2004
April 20, 2004 (Reuters)
PARIS - Arabs in the Middle East hate the United States more than ever following the invasion of Iraq and Israel's assassination of two Hamas leaders, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in comments published Tuesday. Mubarak, who visited the United States last week, told French newspaper Le Monde that Washington's actions had caused despair, frustration and a sense of injustice in the Arab world.
"Today there is hatred of the Americans like never before in the region," he said in an interview given during a stay in France, where he met President Jacques Chirac Monday.
He blamed the hostility partly on U.S. support for Israel, which assassinated Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi in a missile strike in the Gaza Strip Saturday weeks after killing his predecessor, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
"At the start some considered the Americans were helping them. There was no hatred of the Americans. After what has happened in Iraq, there is unprecedented hatred and the Americans know it," Mubarak said.
"People have a feeling of injustice. What's more, they see (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon acting as he pleases, without the Americans saying anything. He assassinates people who don't have the planes and helicopters that he has."
Israel says such killings are self-defense. But Mubarak said the assassination of Rantissi could have "serious consequences" and that instability in Gaza and Iraq would not serve U.S. or Israeli interests.
"The despair and feeling of injustice are not going to be limited to our region alone. American and Israeli interests will not be safe, not only in our region but anywhere in the world," he said.
Asked about Sharon's plan to pull out of Gaza, Mubarak welcomed any withdrawal that was agreed with the Palestinians and in line with a peace "road map" drawn up by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.
© Reuters Ltd 2004
April 20, 2004 by Reuters
"Jordan's snub to Bush is Tip of Iceberg", by Jonathan Wright
CAIRO - When the king of Jordan postponed this week's meeting with President Bush, the snub revealed only a fraction of the humiliation felt by Washington's Arab friends.
Constrained by protocol and unwilling to burn bridges with the most powerful country in the world, Arab leaders like King Abdullah can only hint at the dismay they felt when Bush changed U.S. policy last week, diplomats and analysts say.
The blow was particularly hard for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who met Bush on April 12 and was still in the United States two days later when Bush gave two key and sensitive concessions to visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"They are very much upset. Bush is striking at the hearts of their people and this makes King Abdullah and Mubarak really angry," said an Arab ambassador, who asked not to be identified.
"They are embarrassed and humiliated in front of their own people. Bush is playing with fire," said another Arab diplomat.
Diplomats said Middle East leaders previously close to Washington had few cards to play against the United States and would probably swallow their pride at least until the U.S. presidential election in November.
Bush, apparently to help Sharon win domestic support for his Gaza withdrawal plan, said that Israel could keep some West Bank land and that Palestinian refugees should not expect to reclaim their homes in what is now Israel.
Coupled with the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which Arabs increasingly associate with Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, the concessions were political dynamite.
"I'm sure he (Mubarak) feels wounded because it seems like a big cheat. It's a slap on the back of the neck -- the most humiliating thing in our culture," said analyst Mohamed al-Sayed Said of the al-Ahram Center in Cairo.
Mubarak told the Houston Chronicle last week he was shocked by Bush's promises to Sharon. He told the French newspaper Le Monde this week the Americans had never before been so detested in the Arab world.
"They (Arabs) see Sharon acting as he pleases, without the Americans telling him anything whatsoever," he added.
The Jordanian government has been more circumspect. The Jordanian embassy in Washington said the meeting with Bush was postponed "to clarify the U.S. position regarding final status issues, especially in light of recent (U.S.) statements."
But a pro-government member of the Jordanian parliament, Mahmoud al-Kharabsheh, said Jordan could not remain silent despite its historic friendship with the United States.
"This is an expression of dissatisfaction and anger over U.S. policy as a whole and even if Jordan is an ally of Washington the kingdom cannot accept this complete bias toward Israel," Kharabsheh added.
The discontent has spilled into Iraq, which might have been preoccupied with its own domestic conflicts.
Samir Sumaidy, Iraq's new interior minister and a former member of the Iraqi Governing Council, said the direction U.S. policy was taking on the Middle East was making it harder for Arab leaders everywhere.
"The developments and events which are taking place in Palestine are complicating our problems here in Iraq," he said.
Arab commentators have called a Bush letter to Sharon last week a new Balfour Declaration -- a reference to the British promise in 1917 to allow a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The declaration, written by then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, lingers in the memory of Arabs and Muslims as a symbol of colonial powers giving away another people's land.
"The Balfour Declaration is a deep scar in our psyche. If someone like me is angry, imagine what it does to religious people and the fundamentalists," said Mohamed al-Sayed Said.
Bush's new position has had domestic implications in Egypt and Jordan, where Israel's assassination in Gaza of Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi last week led to popular demonstrations against Israel and the United States.
Diplomats said the impact would be rather less in Saudi Arabia, Washington's other major friend in the Arab world, but Bush's position would not help the Saudi government stamp out violent opposition or quell increasingly vocal dissidents.
Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited.
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