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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Mid-East media tinged with relief
Reactions in the Middle East to President George W Bush's speech on Iraq have been tinged with relief that war is not upon us yet.
There is quiet satisfaction that Washington is not after all going it alone. Other options are still open.
Iranian radio almost delights in the fact that the "chorus of international and domestic opposition" has been effective in subduing the "warmongering stance of the Bush administration".
"And there is hope that a new war in the region could be averted if Iraq agrees to the return of UN weapons inspectors," the radio says.
It warns Iraq that intransigence on its part can lead to disaster.
"This is an issue the Iraqi leadership should not take lightly. That is, they should move to resolve this issue before America embarks on any act of adventure."
From sorrow to revenge
The Saudi press is muted on the issue. Most papers carry front-page reports on the speeches by Bush and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, but refrain from comment.
Al-Jazirah does however carry an editorial headlined: "From the house of sorrow to activating revenge."
"For the US president, going from the former World Trade Centre to the UN was like leaving the house of mourning to the place where he has to inform others he is determined to take revenge on those Washington links to al-Qaeda," the paper says.
At the same time the paper takes heart in the attempts by Kofi Annan to remind the world that the UN is "still alive" and that it should be consulted before any action is taken.
After all, the paper argues, "the world opposes a strike against Iraq. Supporting America in its September crisis does not mean joining it in its attack on Iraq".
Acting precipitously to remove the Iraqi regime would "open the doors of a new world where complete chaos reigns".
Syria's Al-Thawrah advises Washington to act to defuse the crisis, but only in a constructive way.
"The US administration... should not be a spectator at events which are only serving the interests of the Israelis, to the detriment of the interests of the USA," the paper says.
Another Syrian paper, Al-Ba'th, says however that the speech by President Bush confirmed once again the "sad reality" of international relations today.
"The president of the only superpower tried to use the UN platform to convince an unconvinced world about the aggressive plans against an Arab country, whose people has been suffering for years from the embargo and occupation," the paper says.
Reaction in Jordan's papers is mixed: critical of America, but still talking of hope.
"Speech paving way for aggression," reads a headline in Al-Dustur.
"With full arrogance and haughtiness, US President George Bush yesterday addressed the United Nations. He made prejudiced statements and threats against Iraq in an attempt to mobilise world public opinion and mobilize the support of world states against a country that Bush described as part of the axis of evil," the paper says.
He also "raised the ceiling of demands on Iraq", going beyond all UN Security Council resolutions, all previous demands and "everything else imaginable".
Ball in Iraqi court
But the paper does say "the ball is now in the court of the UN".
And it urges Iraq to "show full readiness to accept the return of international inspectors" so that the hawks in the US administration can be disarmed.
"These hawks will find themselves completely isolated if Iraq agrees to this widely accepted world demand," Al-Dustur says.
Another Jordanian paper, Al-Ra'y, says the Iraqi problem has now entered a new phase.
"The question now is when military operations will start, rather than whether or not Bush has decided to strike," it says.
At the same time the paper shares the view that many states, including Arabs, now agree that Iraq must allow the return of weapons inspectors. This could yet resolve the Iraqi question.
The Jordan Times headlines its editorial: "One last hope to avert war" and urges Iraq to pre-empt Bush's pre-emptive strike.
"Baghdad says it does not want a war. It will have to demonstrate that. That Bush wants a war has long been clear. It is not too late to deny him the chance to get it," the paper says.
It says a new UN Security Council resolution on Iraq will be issued soon.
"This time, it could be the last. Afterwards, the ball will be in Baghdad's court. The Iraqi leadership could allow weapons inspectors back, and thus avert a war. Or else, the whole region will face disaster," the paper says in a stark warning.
Finally, papers in the Gulf state of Qatar sum up the mix of feelings in the region.
Al-Watan says that following the Bush speech "a strike against Iraq has become closer". While Al-Rayah speaks of a "US retreat under pressure".
"The White House has changed its tone," the latter paper says.
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.
13 Sep 02 | Middle East
12 Sep 02 | Americas
13 Sep 02 | Middle East
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