Despite Protests, Arab Nations Quietly Back U.S

By Barber, Ben | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 10, 2001 | Go to article overview

Despite Protests, Arab Nations Quietly Back U.S


Barber, Ben, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Ben Barber

The State Department yesterday said Arab and Muslim governments privately support U.S. attacks on Afghanistan even as anti-American protests simmered in the streets of Pakistan, Gaza Strip, Egypt and Indonesia.

Most Arab and other Muslim governments have remained silent in public while privately endorsing U.S. efforts to destroy the network of prime terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said. Iran and Iraq remained prominent exceptions, with both countries officially condemning the strikes.

Iraq also received a warning yesterday from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations not to take advantage of the crisis caused by the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

"We've welcomed the leaders that have spoken out, we've welcomed what they've said," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher when asked about Arab and Muslim reaction to three days of U.S.-led air strikes on Afghanistan.

"To the extent that people want to talk about what they're doing, that's great. To the extent they don't, that's fine, too. What matters is that they cooperate and that they work with us, and we've found a great deal of practical, effective cooperation against terrorism."

Many Muslim leaders fear that radical Islamic groups could inflame public opinion against them. Thus the U.S. attacks have become a test of the stability of many Muslim governments.

Mr. Boucher said every leader must "take into account their own particular political and other circumstances."

"We've moved to the stage of active cooperation with any number of governments. Some of this cooperation is visible. Some of it, in the intelligence or law-enforcement or other areas, may never be visible."

Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for example, continued to support the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan but he called for the operations to be ended swiftly.

He was dealing with scattered riots of fewer than 5,000 people each in and around the cities of Quetta and Peshawar, close to the Afghan border, where three anti-U.S. rioters were shot dead by police yesterday.

In Indonesia, police fired warning shots at an estimated 400 demonstrators who attacked U.S. diplomatic missions in two cities.

The State Department issued warnings to Americans in Indonesia after Islamic extremists began "sweeping" hotels in a search for Americans to attack. …

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