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Arab Regimes Back Israel's Attacks on Islamist Groups
by New American Media (reposted)
Friday Jul 14th, 2006 9:37 PM
: Israel has gotten a green light for its military response to the abduction of several of its soldiers from more than just the United States. Arab governments too have been notably silent as the crisis in the Middle East grows.
SAN FRANCISCO--Far more surprising than U.S. statements of support for Israel's assault on Gaza and Lebanon are similar proclamations from Arab governments. Just before the Israeli cabinet gave Prime Minister Olmert the green light for more attacks, a spokesperson for the Saudi government called for Israeli restraint, but blamed the current conflict on Hezbollah's seizure of two Israeli soldiers. "There is a difference between legitimate resistance and miscalculated adventures," he stated.

The official for the Saudi Ministry of Information hit hard on Islamic resistance groups in Lebanon and Gaza. Those groups, he said, should "bear the consequences of the crisis they have created."

Meanwhile, both King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt warned that Hezbollah is dragging the Arab world into conflict through its misguided gambles and adventures. The majority of Arab regimes has been silent about Israel's new two-front war. Their foreign ministers to the Arab League will not meet to discuss the crisis until July 15, three days after the start of Israeli air attacks and time enough for Israel to completely destroy Lebanon's infrastructure.

Israeli attacks on Lebanon or Gaza are not something new; nor are prisoner exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel. To date, there have been three prisoner exchange deals between Israel and Hezbollah (July 1996, June 1998 and January 2004) and several prisoner swaps between Israel and the PLO. The most famous swap was in May 1985, when in exchange for three Israeli soldiers held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Israel released 1,150 Palestinian political prisoners. So why the overblown Israeli reaction to the capture of several Israeli soldiers, and the Arab silence this time?

In a new strategy shift, the dependence of Palestinians and Lebanese on Arab regimes to confront and contain Israel politically and militarily has ended. Militant groups from Palestine to Iraq -- groups known in the Arab world as the Islamic Resistance and as "terrorists organizations" by Israel and many Western countries -- have been taking matters into their own hands. Arab masses have long realized the powerlessness of their leaders to end the conflict in Iraq or alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians. People throughout the Middle East remember the failed mediation attempts by King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt to lift the September 2002 siege on Yasir Arafat. Arafat remained a prisoner in his compound until few days before his death on November 11, 2004, when he was air-lifted to a military hospital in France only after French President Jacques Chirac intervened.

§Divisions over Hezbollah legitimacy as Arab FMs hold emergency talks
by Haaretz (reposted) Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 10:56 AM
CAIRO - Foreign ministers of 18 Arab countries held an emergency summit in Cairo on Saturday over Israel's expanding assault on Lebanon, but squabbles over the legitimacy of Hezbollah's attacks on Israel - including the capture of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers that sparked the 4-day battle - appeared likely to keep participants from reaching a consensus, delegates said.

The Saudi foreign minister appeared to be leading a camp of ministers criticizing the guerrilla group's actions, calling them "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts."

"These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept them," Saudi al-Faisal told his counterparts.

§Arab states take dim view of 'adventurism' by Hizbullah
by Daily Star (reposted) Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 11:03 AM
US allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan indirectly accused Hizbullah on Friday of harming Arab interests but also condemned the Israeli assault on Lebanon The remarks came amid fears of a wider regional conflict after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted Friday that Israel was not powerful enough to take on Iran and warned the Jewish state not to attack regional ally Syria.

While not naming Hizbullah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdul-lah II warned of the risk of "the region being dragged into 'adventurism' that does not serve Arab interests," according to a joint statement published by Amman's official Petra news agency after the two met in Cairo.

Similar language was used earlier by Saudi Arabia, which indirectly accused Hizbullah of adventurism in provoking Israel's onslaught on Lebanon and putting all Arab nations at risk.

"It is necessary to make a distinction between legitimate resistance [to occupation] and irresponsible adventurism adopted by certain elements within the state," an official Saudi source told the Saud Press Agency late Thursday.

"These elements ... risk putting in danger all the Arab countries and their achievements before these countries have said a word," the source added.

The Saudi position is aimed at preventing the Middle East from sliding into yet another destructive war and at upholding Arab interests, Mohammad al-Zalfa, a member of the appointed Shura Council, said Friday.

The Egyptian and Jordanian leaders urged the Lebanese government "to establish its authority over all Lebanese territory" as they condemned and called for an immediate halt to Israeli military escalation in Gaza and Lebanon.


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by Haaretz (reposted)
Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 8:06 PM
In the division of labor accepted among the Arab states, Egypt normally handles the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and Saudi Arabia deals with Syria and Lebanon. Thus, it was natural for Saudi Arabia to take the lead and delineate what is acceptable and what is not: opposition to the occupation is acceptable, but irresponsible actions, such as those of Hezbollah, are not.

This demarcation was not attributed to a specific Saudi Arabian source, but it is clear that the statement came from the royal court, and was therefore worthy of duplication in statements from Jordan and Egypt at the gathering of Arab League foreign ministers yesterday in Cairo.

These statements presented Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah as a dangerous gambler, a leader who operates outside the norm common to heads of respectable Arab states. The criticism inherent in this stance is a vote of confidence for the Lebanese government.

But these statements do not necessarily help the government of Lebanon which is under pressure from two enormous forces: on the one hand, it is pressured by the need to preserve the future unity of the country in order to avoid a civil war, and on the other, to ensure that no humanitarian or economic catastrophe ensues as a result of the fighting.

The conflict in Lebanon between opposition to Israel's attacks and anger at the Hezbollah is causing the government to appear hapless vis-a-vis the radical Shi'ite organization, in spite some expressions of opposition to the attack on Israel and the abduction of the two soldiers.

Indeed, more and more commentators are willing to question the value of the Hezbollah operation.

by Arab News (Reposted)
Monday Jul 17th, 2006 7:34 PM
EDDAH, 18 July 2006 — Saudi Arabia stepped up its criticism yesterday of Lebanese and Palestinian groups, saying their actions had allowed Israel to wage war against their people.

“Some elements and groups have got loose and slipped into taking decisions on their own that Israel has exploited to wage a ferocious war against Lebanon and to imprison the entire Palestinian people,” a Cabinet statement said.

“Saudi Arabia stands together with the legitimate and reasonable-minded national forces in Lebanon and occupied Palestine to combat these dangers to the Arab and Muslim nation,” it added.

Saudi Arabia last week criticized “elements” in Lebanon and “those behind them” for an Israeli offensive.

The Kingdom stressed Israel’s attack on Lebanon’s economy and infrastructure and characterized the action “as an extension of Israel’s policies of occupation and supremacy over the region,” the SPA quoted Culture and Information Minister Iyad Madani as saying.

According to a royal statement after the ministerial meeting, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah called the international reaction to Israel’s actions as inadequate.

The council also noted with concern the absolute support by some countries to the Israeli policies that led to the prevention of the UN Security Council taking any effective decision in the matter. Last week the US vetoed a UN resolution condemning Israel’s attack of Gaza.

by Al-Ahram Weekly (reposted)
Thursday Jul 20th, 2006 9:12 AM
Dina Ezzat reports on what the Arab League is doing about the current Middle East crisis

Against a backdrop of intensifying Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the Palestinians under occupation in Gaza, and in line with the failure of the international community, as represented in UN Security Council meetings the past two days, to put pressure on Israel to end its aggression, Arab foreign ministers met in Cairo Saturday to consider ways of containing the explosive situation in the Middle East.

The emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting, scheduled to last for just one day, is being held upon the invitation of Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

Its main objective, Arab diplomatic sources agree, is to find a way to contain "the current open war" that could last for weeks as is widely feared in Arab diplomatic quarters.

Arab diplomatic sources say that Lebanon, Egypt and the Arab League have three drafts for a final resolution to be adopted by the end of today's meetings. The resolutions, all parties hope, would send a signal of willingness to end the current crisis as part of a deal accepted by all parties.

Given that the UN has failed to ask for a cease-fire and given that Israeli generals have openly threatened to continue their operations against Lebanon and Gaza for as long as they deem necessary to break down the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah and the militant wing of Hamas, Arab capitals, especially Cairo, Amman and Riyadh, are concerned about the impact of this war on overall regional stability. Moreover, several Arab capitals, are concerned that the explicit support accorded by Tehran to both Hezbollah and Hamas could lead to greater Iranian influence in the region. "This is why the Saudis and to an extent the Egyptians and Jordanians have in a way put the blame on Hezbollah and Hamas for having unwisely provoked Israel," commented an Arab diplomat who asked to remain anonymous.

After close to three weeks of vicious Israeli attacks on Gaza and three days of an equally aggressive onslaught on Lebanon, Arab capitals have failed to put together a firm enough reaction to prompt Israel or the international community to put a halt to the attacks. Rather the opposite, several Arab capitals have issued statements indicating that it is the Hamas and Hezbollah kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers in two separate operations that have prompted the current state of war. Moreover, some Arab capitals have blamed Syria for acting along with Iran in encouraging Hezbollah and Hamas operations which were described in a joint Egyptian-Jordanian statement on Thursday as "miscalculated adventures".

Hamas, Hezbollah and large segments of Arab public opinion have reacted with measured anger. Syria too, as some of its Cairo-based diplomats indicate, has made it clear to the concerned Arab capitals that their stances are not welcomed by Damascus.

This split in opinion was unmistakable during closed-door meetings by the Arab League's first session this morning. The proposed Lebanese draft resolution contains clear language condemning Israel and supporting the right of Lebanon and other Arab countries to resist the Israeli occupation.

"The Arab world cannot deny the heroics of Hezbollah and we expect our Arab brethren to take our side," Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Saloukh said on the eve of the meetings.

For its part, the Egyptian draft resolution seems to be more focused on underlining the importance of ending hostilities and resuming talks between Israel and all concerned Arab parties.

"Egypt is very disturbed about the current plight facing Lebanon and the Palestinians and we want them to find their way out of this crisis and back to the peace negotiating table," Ahmed Abul-Gheit, Egyptian foreign minister, said.

The middle-of-the-ground Arab League resolution contains bits and pieces of the positions of both camps: those who want to stress the condemnation of Israel and seek the support of the international community, and those who wish to get a commitment from Hamas and Hezbollah to release the kidnapped Israeli soldiers in order to secure an agreement with Israel over a cease-fire.

The meetings are expected to continue, behind closed doors, until late into the night.

Meanwhile, Israel continued its attacks against Lebanese and Palestinian civilian targets, increasing the death toll and the number of casualties.