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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 11:02 GMT
Arab world 'resigned' to war
Anti-US rally in the Jordanian capital, Amman
Arabs say any attack will destabilise the region

In the run up to Friday's key report on Iraq by United Nations weapons inspectors, the Arab world appears convinced that war is inevitable.

America will strike at Iraq because it has already made up its mind

Egyptian columnist
Arab foreign ministers' meeting on Saturday and Sunday will discuss efforts to prevent war including a Franco-German plan to strengthen the weapons inspections.

But Arab public opinion has never believed that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were the real issue.

So no matter what Mr Blix says at the UN, most Arabs believe the decision to go to war was taken a long time ago in Washington.

"America will strike at Iraq because it has already made up its mind," wrote an Egyptian columnist.

"What remains to be determined is when, how and with which allies," the Egyptian columnist added.

Much of the commentary in the Arab press is in the same vein.

No illusion

Arab public opinion believes that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction - or that if it did, that would be a good thing because an Arab county might be able to counter Israel's strengths.

An Arab protester
Some urge President Saddam to hit Israel

As for America's motives, the general belief is that these relate to controlling Iraq's oil and making the region safe for Israel.

Arab leaders have added to the sense of foreboding by indicating that there was little they could do to stop war.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said as much. King Abdullah of Jordan said it would take a miracle to avert a conflict.

When Arab foreign ministers meet on Saturday to discuss Iraq, the Franco-German proposals to strengthen UN inspections will be on the table.

These are bound to be welcomed but there is little confidence they will ultimately succeed in stopping a war.


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14 Feb 03 | Middle East
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