A Chronology of U.S.-Middle East Relations

Article excerpt

Facts for Your Files

May 1: As 32 new prisoners arrived at Guantanamo Bay, one was removed for unknown reasons, bringing the total to 331.

* Priests escorted two Palestinian policemen from Bethlehem's besieged Church of the Nativity.

* As U.S. officials admitted finding no links between Baghdad and the 9/11 attacks, Iraq and the UN. began a second round of talks on weapons inspections and sanctions. Meanwhile a U.S.-funded Iraqi opposition satellite television network closed for lack of funds.

* Saudi Arabia instituted new legal rights for defendants and suspects.

* Physicians for Human Rights called for an urgent investigation into an apparent mass grave, thought to be surrendered Taliban fighters killed by the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance.

* Unknown attackers fired a missile from the Pakistan/Afghan border region at a temporary U.S. barracks in Miranshah, Pakistan.

May 2: As the Bush administration agreed to join Europe, Russia, and the U.N. in a summer Middle East peace conference, Congress passed non-binding bills strongly supporting Israel and denouncing the Palestinians.

* Israel claimed that, under torture, senior Palestinian official Marwan Barghouti had definitively linked Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, Israel ended its siege of Arafat's Ramallah compound in exchange for the U.S.- and UK-monitored imprisonment of six PFLP members wanted by Israel for the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi.

* Philippine police arrested two senior Abu Sayyaf officials near General Santos City.

May 3: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the U.S. must support moderate Muslims.

* Israel raided Nablus, killing a Hamas member and wounding two other Palestinians. In Bethlehem, four starving Palestinian policemen left the Church of the Nativity to surrender to Israeli forces, and Israel agreed to allow some food into the church.

* In Kashmir, 17 Muslim separatists and three civilians were killed in gun battles.

May 4: Israeli troops re-invaded Tulkarm.

* The U.S. urged Sudan to share oil revenue with the southern separatist Sudan People's Liberation Army.

May 5: The Pentagon said U.S. troops would continue to hunt for small bands of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters throughout the summer.

* Israel arrested Americans Dallal Muhammad and Dr. Riad Abdelkarim, who had been organizing relief efforts in Palestine.

* An Israeli government report accused the EU of indirectly funding Palestinian terrorism.

May 6: Near Kabul, an unmanned CIA spy plane fired a missile in a failed attempt to assassinate former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

* The U.S. renounced formal involvement in the International Criminal Court, a treaty signed by former President Clinton but not ratified by Congress.

* Jordan's King Abdullah, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon each met in Washington with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Sharon later addressed a meeting of the Anti-- Defamation League, praising the Bush administration for helping Israel halt a U.N. inquiry into its invasion of Jenin.

* The U.S. allowed Kuwait to assemble a team of lawyers to assist Kuwaiti citizens being held at Guantanamo Bay.

* The U.N. estimated damage from Israel's West Bank invasion at $300 to $400 million.

* Near Jenin, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian and her two small children and kidnapped her husband, claiming to have mistaken them for fighters. Israeli troops raided Tulkarm and, in Hebron, kidnapped two men.

* Israel continued with construction of physical barriers to enclose Palestinian land occupied since 1967.

* After the International Red Cross called prison conditions atrocious, the Northern Alliance announced it would free some 400 Pakistanis accused of fighting for the Taliban. …