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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK
Press alarm over threat of war
US fighter plane
The US military is widely criticised in the region
Commentators in the Arab and Turkish press are voicing alarm at the possibility of large-scale US military action against Iraq.

The Iraqi newspaper Al-Thawra, organ of the ruling Ba'ath Party, says Iraq would not be the only target.

"The threat to attack Iraq is only the first step towards staging an attack on all Arabs," the paper's editorial says.

"It is not only an issue of Iraq or Palestine but of the entire Arab world and the surrounding region," it continues.

"All of that is in execution of an old Zionist-US scheme to control the region's oil and other resources," Al-Thawra claims.


The USA seeks to occupy Iraq as part of its plans to dominate the region and as a necessary step to impose its hegemony on the entire world

Ukaz

Syria's government-owned Tishrin makes a similar point.

"Assured that the US administration has fallen into their web, the Zionist entity's officials are working on inflaming the region by implicating the US in a war against Iraq which may be extended later to Iran."

The Saudi independent daily Ukaz believes the USA seeks to occupy Iraq as part of its plans "to dominate the region and as a necessary step to impose its hegemony on the entire world".

It adds that even if Iraq allowed weapons inspectors in again and even if there were a change of regime in Baghdad "the United States would still hit Iraq, and even occupy it, to install its own regime in Baghdad".

"Does anybody doubt that a major US military action against Iraq will be carried out soon?" asks Ukaz.

Iraqi defiance

Iraq's Babil, owned by one of President Saddam Hussein's sons, sounds a note of defiance.

"The interlocking events, the dust and the smoke which tries to blur vision will not frighten us," it says.

"The most important thing is to keep our eyes open, our hearts full of faith and our hands on the trigger and we will defeat this attack as we have defeated their desperate previous attacks," Babil adds.

Another Iraqi daily, Al-Iraq, is also defiant.

"Iraq is capable of standing up to the American tyrant."

"US actions and words have not weakened the will" of the Iraqi people, adds Al-Iraq.

Power-hungry

The Saudi independent daily Al-Watan believes that the Iraqi leader only cares about himself.


Saddam wants to sacrifice the entire Iraqi people in order to remain in power

Al Watan

"Saddam is not interested in Iraq or the Iraqi people," it says, "He is only interested in his own interests."

"He wants to sacrifice the entire Iraqi people in order to remain in power," Al-Watan charges.

Kuwait's independent newspaper Al-Qabas ponders what the Iraqi president might do.

"All the signs indicate that when he feels his end has come, Saddam will take refuge with his tribe in Takrit," it says.

Al-Qabas thinks the Iraqi leader will not hesitate to commit suicide to end his life once he realises he has nowhere to go. That way he will avoid being captured, it says.

Turkish dimension

To launch a major attack on Iraq the US would need help from Turkey.

But Turkey is interested in maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity, fearing the creation of a Kurdish state on its border.


Turkey will be seriously closed to itself if it enters this difficult era in its present form without holding elections

Istanbul Star

The Turkish centre-right daily Istanbul Star points out that any military operation against Iraq would pose two strategic problems from Turkey's perspective.

"The first is that Turkey does not want to sustain losses such as the total of $35bn that it sustained during the [1991] Gulf War," it says.

"The second and more important problem is the 'reflex' that Turkey will display in the face of the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq."

Turkey is due to hold early elections on 3 November. A possible strike on Iraq is a potential dilemma for Turkey.

"If Turkey gets involved in a hot war without holding elections it will get weaker politically and this is where the real danger lies," Istanbul Star believes.

The right-wing Nationalist Action Party (MHP) Istanbul Ortadogu claims that a new war on Iraq would impoverish Turkey as the Gulf War "did more harm to Turkey than it did to Iraq".

It also raises the issue of Turkey, Nato's only Muslim member, joining the European Union.

"One wonders whether this war is being waged to prevent Turkey's accession to the EU," adding that "the war against Iraq will provide Christian fanatics in Europe with new excuses for excluding us from Europe."

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.


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See also:

01 Aug 02 | Politics
01 Aug 02 | Middle East
01 Aug 02 | Americas
01 Aug 02 | Middle East
31 Jul 02 | Politics
30 Jul 02 | Middle East
30 Jul 02 | Hardtalk
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