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Saturday, 10 November, 2001, 14:10 GMT
US-Arab relations 'in crisis'
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
Bush's refusal to see Arafat has damaged relations
By BBC Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner

Relations between Washington and the Arab world are in crisis.

No amount of smooth talking by diplomats can disguise the fact that Arabs are deeply and dangerously disillusioned with US policy.

The US stance is nothing but a recipe for endless war

Lebanese newspaper al-Anwar
The bombing of Afghanistan is opposed by most ordinary Arabs, but their leaders had been hoping that consolation would come in the form of a new Middle East peace initiative out of Washington.

It has not. Instead, moderate pro-Arab leaders are embarrassed by the US government's offhand treatment of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

On Saturday, the Saudi government-controlled press called President Bush's refusal to meet the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the UN General Assembly "a calculated snub".


The daily Saudi newspaper Arab News said President Bush had to realise that he could not "kick Arabs in the teeth" over the Palestinian issue, yet expect them to fall into line on global terrorism.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, said President Bush would meet Mr Arafat when "the time was right".

Hamas rally
Arabs are angry that violent Palestinian groups are branded "terrorists"
But in the United Arab Emirates, the official government paper al-Bayan accused Washington of not caring about Arab support in its campaign against terrorism.

A Lebanese newspaper al-Anwar said the US stance was nothing but a recipe for endless war.

Arabs all over the Middle East are angered by Washington's inclusion of violent Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad on a list of terror groups.

Despite the fact that such groups have sent suicide bombers into Israeli cities, Arabs say that people fighting to liberate their own land should not be labelled as terrorists.

Once the war in Afghanistan is over, it is this disputed definition of terrorism that is likely to further widen the rift between America and the Arab world.

The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Holding Arab opinion together while the bombing continues is fantastically difficult"
Political analyst Yahya Al-Alaridi
"There has to be a distinction between terrorism and somebody resisting occupation"
See also:

31 Oct 01 | Middle East
Blair struggles to win Arab backing
31 Oct 01 | Middle East
Blair's Mid-East mission
30 Oct 01 | Americas
CIA seeks rogue state co-operation
26 Oct 01 | Middle East
Analysis: US unease over Israeli action
31 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Syria trip 'opens bridge for dialogue'
17 Oct 01 | Middle East
War on terror: Syria's mixed reaction
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