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EDITIONS
Friday, 14 February, 2003, 12:10 GMT
Powell fails to convince Arab press
Transcripts of taped conversations shown to UN by Colin Powell
Arab media unimpressed by evidence shown to UN

Colin Powell's dramatic UN speech only receives second billing in Thursday's Iraqi papers. Precedence is given to the interview Saddam Hussein gave to the UK politician Tony Benn a few days ago.

The headlines make clear Iraq's complete rejection of Powell's arguments.

Rhetorical tricks, emotional stratagems and sensational, dramatic lies

Iraq's Al-Thawrah

"Al-Sahhaf exposes Powell's lies", the ruling Ba'th party newspaper Al-Thawrah writes, referring to a statement from the Iraqi Information Minister.

"Powell failed to change world's rejection of aggression", says Al-Iraq. "Powell's address was an American sensational play" is how Al-Jumhuriyah sees it.

'Unconvincing'

Al-Thawrah carries a commentary accusing US officials of resorting "to rhetorical tricks, emotional stratagems and sensational, dramatic lies". Their "pictures and video and audio cassettes" present "an unconvincing and groundless case", it says.

"The United Nations Security Council should not be dragged behind this cheap game of American deception diplomacy... because American planned aggression on Iraq has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, world peace and the fight against terrorism."

There is more comment in Syrian dailies, which carry several editorials and articles.

Is it possible to declare a world war against a developing and besieged country just by producing some audio recordings and pictures?

Syria's Al-Ba'th

The ruling party paper, Al-Ba'th, asks "Was the mountain in labour only to produce a mouse?"

Powell "has not come up with anything new and failed to convince all the parties that expected the United States to present concrete evidence on weapons of mass destruction".

"Is it possible to declare a world war against a developing and besieged country just by producing some audio recordings and pictures that cannot be accepted by a junior judge as evidence for proving the charges?"

'Baseless'

The Syrian government-owned Al-Thawrah says "the alleged pieces of evidence.. [are] a prelude to invading Iraq and creating a new formula for Iraq and the whole region."

Many of his claims about Iraq's alleged chemical and biological programmes were old allegations

Jordan Times

"The US evidence is baseless because Iraq destroyed all its weapons in 1991 and presented documents corroborating this, and is now fully cooperating with Unmovic and the IAEA."

Most Jordanian dailies carry reports on the Powell speech.

"Many of his claims about Iraq's alleged chemical and biological programmes were old allegations", the Jordan Times says.

Al-Arab al-Yawm speaks of "unconvincing evidence", but suspects that many countries will soon back the US.

United Arab Emirates' Al-Khalij says the speech must be seen "within the framework of speeding up the attack [on Iraq]".

A bundle of quite strong presumptions, which, it must be recognized, were inadequate

Algeria's Al-Watan

Powell wanted his evidence "to be believed and endorsed in order to complete the march for war aimed at destroying Iraq", it says.

Algeria's Al-Watan calls Powell's speech "in turn damning and moralistic, threatening and humanistic, arrogant and paternalistic".

"Overall the world was treated to only a bundle of quite strong presumptions, which, it must be recognized, were inadequate, legally as well as morally, to justify the destruction of a country or even a political regime."

'Spectre of war'

Reports on the speech are the top stories in the five main London-based Arabic papers. The pro-Libyan Al-Arab al-Alamiyah says "Powell presents his weak 'evidence'".

The Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat pleads in a general commentary for more effort to avoid conflict.

"The expression 'time is running out' must not paralyse our efforts to avoid war," it says.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi writes "Powell's evidence divides Security Council and brings spectre of war closer".

The paper says the results of the speech are "very modest".

"It is difficult to believe that it is going to change the views of many in the Arab and Muslim worlds who suspect the US' true intentions and objectives, namely the seizure of Iraq's oil and the entire Arab region."

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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