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Egyptian Official: Syrian Support for Terror is a Source of Pride

“Washington's obvious determination to attack other Arab nations, beginning with Syria, in fulfillment of Israeli designs...." the Egyptian government representative says, “should be an added impetus to rebuilding an Arab order....” To this end, el-Ashaal says, charges that Syria is aiding Iraqi fugitives, PLO-affiliated terrorists, and the Hizbullah is “a source of pride rather than an embarrassm
First Publish: 5/23/2003, 10:55 AM

Abdallah el-Ashaal, Assistant to the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, wrote an article that appeared last week in Egypt’s al-Ahram Weekly, in which he decries “Washington's obvious determination to attack other Arab nations, beginning with Syria, in fulfillment of Israeli designs....” Such joint “designs”, the Egyptian government representative says, “should be an added impetus to rebuilding an Arab order based on collective security....” To this end, el-Ashaal says, charges that Syria is aiding Iraqi fugitives, PLO-affiliated terrorists, and the Hizbullah is “a source of pride rather than an embarrassment.... [Such accusations...] only increase its standing in the Arab world, where Hizbullah's success in driving the Israelis out of Lebanon is taken as a shining example in the Arab struggle.”

El-Ashaal writes that the Arab support that was evident in some sectors for the US-led war against Saddam Hussein was misguided and “instrumental in propelling the Arab world to its current state of helplessness against the US and Israel.” However, at the same time, the ministerial assistant considers the Hussein regime as having “drastically undermined the concept of collective security, having propped itself up with the aid of outside powers and then turning against the Arab order. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait rendered the concept of collective security meaningless, both in the Gulf and in Palestine, against Israel.... By destroying the concept of collective security, Iraq pushed the Gulf states to elevate their individual concerns above the whole. Iraq, then, had come to pose a greater threat to those countries than Israel.”

Whether or not such Arab collusion with Western powers was justified, the al-Ahram article continues, now the Gulf states must eject the “dangerous presence” from Arab territories. The danger, according to el-Ashaal, is evident from “[s]tatements originating from Washington and Tel Aviv...”, which indicate Israeli and American desire “to revive the notion of a Baghdad Pact. Comprising Iraq, Israel, Jordan and perhaps Turkey, such a US-sponsored arrangement would inevitably hamper attempts to revive the Arab order, gravely jeopardize Arab interests and hasten Israeli schemes to dominate the Middle East.”

The next step in Israel’s “schemes”, the Egyptian official writes, is to target Syria: “Indeed, Israel, in coordination with Turkey, appears to be setting the scene for the region's next victim. In keeping with what seems now to be its modus operandi, Washington has already accused Damascus of possessing weapons of mass destruction smuggled out of Iraq, while Israel has alleged that Syria is manufacturing chemical weapons and failed to cooperate fully with US plans for Iraq. Washington has added several other charges to the list. Syria is harboring members of Palestinian organizations, and Hizbullah, it says, it is giving haven to former leaders of the Iraqi regime. It also alleges that Damascus had supplied Iraq with Russian-made weapon components during the war, it had helped Arab freedom fighters infiltrate Iraq, it had openly condemned the US-British invasion, exhorted the people of Iraq to resist the subsequent occupation and campaigned for the departure of US forces and the creation of a national government.

“Syria ... denied all the allegations, which, even if they had been true, would have been a source of pride rather than an embarrassment....” el-Ashaal declares. “The Arab world must... stand as one with Syria, and the world must support the Arab stance.”

Syria’s support for Iraq, the al-Ahram article continues, “stemmed from its sympathy for the Iraqi people....”, while “the accusation that Syria supports Hizbullah and Palestinian liberation organizations, if true, only increases its standing in the Arab world, where Hizbullah's success in driving the Israelis out of Lebanon is taken as a shining example in the Arab struggle.”

Currently, the Egyptian official writes that “Washington's flagrant harassment of Syria as a prerequisite to implementing plans drawn up by the White House long ago must be met with staunch Arab resistance. Washington's obvious determination to attack other Arab nations, beginning with Syria, in fulfillment of Israeli designs should stimulate a resurgence of Arab solidarity, at which point the US will realize that the Arab world does not suffer from a power vacuum and that it does not need a guardian.... At the same time, Washington should guard against taking for granted the Israeli spin on what happened in Iraq and rushing headlong into actions that will ultimately be inimical to its own interests. Israel has no concern for US interests, regardless of the extent to which the White House sympathizes with Israeli aspirations.

“Ultimately, if the only reason behind US- Israeli designs to attack Syria is that Syria is a bastion of Arab resistance, then this alone should constitute our primary impetus for reviving an Arab system capable of defending the fundamental values and rights of the Arab peoples.

“Syria must not become the next phase in designs to clip Arab wings,” el-Ashaal concludes.