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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Syrian media lashes out at US
Mohammed Naji al-Otari
Syria's newly appointed prime minister

Syria's state media has hit out at Washington over accusations that the country represents a threat to international security.

The press was especially scathing in its criticism of the Syrian Accountability Act under consideration in the US Congress.

In a frontpage editorial, Al-Ba'ath - the mouthpiece of Syria's ruling Ba'ath party - accused the US of drafting legislation to cover up what it described as Washington's failures in Iraq.

"The problem does not lie with Syria, but with the crises caused by the occupation of Iraq and Palestine," it said.

The paper accused the US of applying the principle: "If you're not with us, we will punish you".

"It is a dictatorial, tyrannical logic that contradicts the basis of international law and the logic of relations between countries," it added.

We believe that the entire world knows that all the accusations being levelled at Syria are baseless
Syrian Spokeswoman Buthaynah Sha'ban

The paper also labelled the Syria Accountability Act as "pure Israeli policy" and warned it would damage America's interests in the Middle East.

Riposte

Syria's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Buthaynah Sha'ban, also condemned the US allegations in an interview carried by the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera and Egyptian radio.

Accusations of links to extremist groups and attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction were "reckless" and without foundation, she said.

"We believe that the entire world knows that all the accusations being levelled at Syria are baseless. Instead of addressing the problems it is facing in Iraq, and instead of looking for the causes, the United States is trying to divert attention elsewhere," she added.

An article in Syria Times remained sceptical of the motivations behind US and British involvement in Iraq.

The writer criticised the two countries for a lack of transparency and said they were evidently seeking control of oil and gas supplies.

Elsewhere in the region, Egypt's Al-Ahram accused Washington of using Syria as a scapegoat for its problems in Iraq.

The paper described the US accusations as "totally unacceptable".

"Without seeking to find the real explanation, they are trying to lay the blame for their setbacks in Iraq on any other country," it said.

The Kuwaiti paper, Al-Watan, also carried comments from the country's foreign minister, Shaykh Dr Muhammad al-Sabah, expressing support for Syria.

"In reaction to the White House's accusations towards Syria, the Kuwaiti foreign minister said that Kuwait supports the security and stability of Syria and respects its importance in the Arab world," the paper said.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Voice of Syrian spokeswoman




SEE ALSO:
Syria appoints new prime minister
10 Sep 03  |  Middle East
Profile: Mohammed Naji al-Otari
11 Sep 03  |  Middle East


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