Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Intervention Spawns Arab Reaction Public Protests on Heels of Arab-Summit Support Signal Long-Term Dangers

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Intervention Spawns Arab Reaction Public Protests on Heels of Arab-Summit Support Signal Long-Term Dangers

Article excerpt

BY lining up the support of most Arab states at the one-day Cairo summit last week, the United States has won a major round against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

But, according to Arab analysts, the very gains of the US are also serving as a catalyst for a strong revival of a wave of pan-Arab nationalism and boosting the Islamic fundamentalists in the region.

"Washington has triggered off all the red buttons, by challenging inherent religious and nationalist sensitivities as American heavy presence in Saudi Arabia is viewed here as tantamount to completing foreign control over the Islamic holy shrines (the other most revered Islamic holy site, Jerusalem is already under Israeli occupation) as well as over Arab natural resources," an Arab analyst said.

Demonstrations against American intervention and in support of President Hussein were reported in Jordan, the Israeli-occupied Arab territories, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania and were expected to continue and spread to other Arab countries.

In Jordan, at press time, thousands were gathering for a "confrontation rally" near a cemetery where Iraqi soldiers who took part in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war are buried. Organizers say the purpose of the rally is to express solidarity with Iraq against the "American intervention."

The Muslim Brotherhood, the most influential Islamic organized group in many Arab countries, issued a statement opposing the American presence in Saudi Arabia and demanding that the Arab troops should not take part in any fighting backing the American forces.

The Jordanian leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood turned against its once-financial backer, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. At a mass rally, attended by thousands last Friday, the Brotherhood called for Islamic jihad against "the new crusaders," in defense of Iraq and the Islamic world.

The Brotherhood, although it opposes the Iraqi invasion, also urged all Muslims in the Arab world to turn against all the Arab leaders who chose to line up with the US and declared Fahd "a traitor ... for allowing the American control of Mecca and Medina," two of the most revered holy shrines in the Muslim world.

Arab analysts point out that the Brotherhood's explicit condemnation of the pro-American Arab rulers - after the movement's longstanding alliance with these very regimes against the Arab left - is bound to have a chain reaction in the Arab world especially if the military confrontation in the Gulf took place.

In Syria, where press restrictions are extremely tight, reports of demonstrations could not be confirmed. But an Arab journalist close to the Syrian government leaked a brief report to Jordanian journalists that a protest had taken place Sunday.

Jordanians and Syrians traveling from Damascus to Amman said that support for President Saddam Hussein was on the rise. …

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