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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 13:59 GMT
Fear of war consumes Arab press
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, left, and his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad
The Iraq crisis is a major test of Arab solidarity
The danger of war in the Gulf continues to occupy newspapers in the Arab world.

Some call for Arab solidarity against the US threat of attack while others ask if their countries are prepared for the onslaught and its consequences.

One paper suggests that Europe could play a vital role in averting a conflagration. Another says only Iraqis can overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Is there anyone who remembers Arab solidarity?

Al-Khalij

Syria's government-owned Tishrin calls for a unified Arab stand against war, warning that Iraq is not the only country under threat.

"It is a big responsibility on the shoulders of Arab countries because this is a danger facing all Arab countries and not Iraq alone," it says.

"Syria will not stop its efforts in this regard since it is a national responsibility for every Arab country."

Summit 'needed now'

Echoing this sentiment, Qatar's Al-Rayah calls for an Arab summit scheduled for March to be brought forward, an appeal made in the Iraqi press on Monday.

"If the Arab governments are really determined to make efforts to avert a foreign aggression against the Iraqi people, the Arab summit should take place immediately and without delay. Any delay in holding it will make it a mere protocol meeting without any weight.

The Iraqi people will fight for the sake of the homeland, not for Saddam

Al-Ayyam

"Is there anyone who remembers Arab solidarity?" it asks.

The United Arab Emirates' Al-Khalij similarly calls on the Arabs to say "loud and clear what they want if they are truly concerned over their existence which is being threatened by the American earthquake".

The venue of the Arab summit is Bahrain, whose independent Al-Ayyam argues that only the Iraqis can rid the country of Saddam, though it doubts they are willing.

"Neither the US or anyone else will be able to get rid of Saddam. That could only be done by the Iraqi people, Saddam's people, who are the nearest to him," it says.

"We see him urging his people to work with him and to defend the homeland. The Iraqi people will definitely respond. They will fight for the sake of the homeland, not for Saddam."

European role

Saudi Arabia's Al-Jazirah stresses the importance of European nations in the bid to avert hostilities.

Fire has reached our backyard - are we ready for it?

Ukaz

"The European role and the regional role of the countries neighbouring Iraq should be an important factor in avoiding war against Iraq and saving the entire region."

The Saudi daily Ukaz questions whether the country is prepared for the onslaught.

"All indicators point to the fact that the strike against Iraq is coming, and that we are being targeted, rightly or wrongly. In any case, fire has reached our backyard. Are we ready for it?"

Egypt Al-Akhbar is in no doubt that the US and UK "are only endeavouring to lay their hands on Iraqi oil and control the world oil market, not to combat terrorism or defend principles. Democracy finds itself inconsolable".

Syria's ruling party organ Al-Ba'th expresses a widely-held view that any war will give a boost to terrorism.

"This kind of war will shake the foundations of the global peace and stability. And this will in turn reinforce the so-called global terrorism phenomenon."

Another Syrian daily, Al-Thawra, comments: "The modern American mind is another model for fascism."

Why is Iran trying to step back from the situation hotting up around it?

Al-Arab al-Alamiyah

Saudi Arabia's Al-Jazirah calls for efforts to get Baghdad to provide the UN weapons inspectors with "a high degree of co-operation so as to remove any excuses for an attack".

Repercussions abroad

The London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat points to the dilemma facing Germany after the defeat of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats in regional elections.

"A big portion of the electorate discovered that Schroeder's discourse calling for peace was not devoid of fallacies: the chancellor in fact managed to gain US enmity without reducing the possibility of a war to topple Saddam."

Another London-based paper, Al-Arab al-Alamiyah, takes issue with Iran's stand on the regional crisis.

Even Hitler did not do what Washington is doing now

Al-Iraq

"Why is Iran trying to step back from the situation hotting up around it? Doesn't the situation require a clear Islamic position and a concentrated joint Arab-Iranian effort, or indeed, an Iranian alliance with Iraq and Syria?"

Meanwhile, in Iraq itself, Al-Iraq asks: "Whose patience is running out?"

"It is Iraq's patience which is running out over these blatant threats to unleash an unjustified war. It is the farce of our time; Washington is trying to laugh at everybody. Even Hitler did not do what Washington is doing now."

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:

03 Feb 03 | Middle East
02 Feb 03 | Americas
02 Feb 03 | Politics
02 Feb 03 | Middle East
02 Feb 03 | Middle East
03 Feb 03 | Media reports
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