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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 August, 2004, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Arab press split on Darfur
Arabic press graphic

As Arab foreign ministers meet in Cairo to discuss the crisis in Darfur, some Arab newspapers suggest the big powers may have already made up their minds to intervene militarily, although some remain critical of Khartoum's conduct.

The Arab League emergency talks are the latest in a series of high-profile international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than one million.

A commentary in Jordan's independent Al-Ra'y argues that foreign "occupation" of Darfur is inevitable, regardless of Sudan's response to the United Nations Security Council resolution.

"Even if the resolution is complied with, occupation is coming. British troops are at the western gates waiting for the order to move in," it believes.

There appears to be a desire to keep this brotherly country under the scourge of civil war... and make it another stage for military intervention after Iraq
Al-Ba'th - Syria
The paper sees double standards in the international community's response to the Darfur crisis and its handling of the Middle East conflict.

'Double standards'

"Israel is pursuing a war of annihilation in Gaza and Beit Hanoun... but no-one is asking the UN Security Council to convene over that," it complains, describing Darfur as "an Israeli game in the Horn of Africa".

Syria's ruling party newspaper Al-Ba'th draws parallels with Iraq and warns that unless the Darfur problem is resolved by the Arab League, foreign intervention is likely.

While calling on the Arab ministers to "use international concern over Darfur to bring about peace in Sudan", it warns that "there appears to be a desire to keep this brotherly country under the scourge of civil war... and make it another stage for military intervention after Iraq, to make it easy for hostile powers to take control".

Some papers also suggest there is a plot to exploit the crisis for long-term objectives.

'Conspiracy'

"Darfur is a place where those who trade in the pain of nations and the blood of humanity are trying to exonerate themselves," is the view of a writer in the UAE's pro-government Al-Bayan.

"It is also an entry point for American imperialism and the Zionist project," it says.

Press suspicion is rife in Sudan itself, where a writer in Al-Ra'y al-Am calls for dialogue and warns that outside powers could exploit the crisis to control Darfur's reputed mineral resources.

"The Naivasha method and spirit... are the best way of resolving the problem and foiling the desires of foreign states that want Darfur's uranium, copper and oil," the article says, referring to the peace talks in Kenya between the Sudanese government and rebels from the south of the country.

However, not all Arab commentators take such a categorical view.

A writer in the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat likens the Arab militia of Darfur to the locusts currently sweeping across sub-Saharan Africa.

'Locusts'

"The locust crisis is like many others, including that in western Sudan, where the looting and rape of women by Janjaweed militias has led to the displacement of three million people," the Saudi-owned paper says.

We ask Sudan to help us and itself by confessing its mistakes and working seriously to confront their effects
Al-Quds al-Arabi - UK-based
Criticism also comes even from the Arab nationalist Al-Quds al-Arabi, which, while agreeing that a Western "conspiracy" is at work, warns that this does not let Khartoum off the hook.

"We shall stand by Sudan to confront this conspiracy," it declares.

"But we ask Sudan to help us and itself by confessing its mistakes and working seriously to confront their effects," it adds, describing the "killing, rape and burning of villages" as "facts for which the government cannot disclaim responsibility".

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.




SEE ALSO:
Arab League to meet over Darfur
08 Aug 04  |  Africa


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