Middle East Calls Upon US to Steer Clear of Anti-Arab Crusade
Oman Daily Observer (Muscat)
September 14, 2001

NICOSIA - Arab countries stepped up calls for Washington yesterday not to launch an anti-Arab crusade after the terror attacks in the United States. Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who has good relations with the United States, said Washington had every right to seek revenge against the perpetrators for the attacks that claimed thousands of innocent lives. But he stressed that any retaliation should hit the right targets. "If the evidence is clear, then everybody will support (US military action) because nobody can accept what happened on Tuesday," he said in an interview on CNN television.

In Egypt, another friend of the United States, Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher also cautioned the United States against jumping the gun. "We cannot anticipate the results of the investigation and make accusations without proof," Maher told reporters. "We must wait for the results of the inquiry and punish the authors of the attacks." 

Syria reasserted its own line, drawing a distinction between terrorism and "legitimate Arab resistance" against Israeli occupation. "We as Arabs, Muslims and Christians, are not terrorists," the Damascus government paper Ath Thawra said. "It is Zionism and Zionist organisations in the western world who are making these false accusations against us." The official media warned that a global war on terrorism must not be waged at the expense of the Arabs. 

President Bashar al Assad, in a message of condolences, called for "world cooperation to eradicate terrorism in all its forms and protect the most basic human rights, including the right to live in peace and security." In official Syrian-speak, "terrorism in all its forms" includes Israel's repression in the Palestinian territories. And Arab League chief Amr Mussa said he has asked US Secretary of Sate Colin Powell to ensure no harm comes to Arabs and Muslims living in the United States. 

Mussa also asked Powell not to jump to conclusions in a way that could lead to "dangerous repercussions." On the public opinion front, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat gave blood on Tuesday for victims of the "tragedy" in the United States and has called for a minute's silence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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