Israel Resource Review 30th March, 1999

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"Air Raid Sirens Sound Throughout Tel-Aviv as NATO Warplanes Zoom
in on Bombing Runs"

A Headline Too Surreal, Even For a Nightmare?
by David Bedein
Media Research Analyst

Well, just consider the Middle East decisions that emanated from the meeting of European Union heads of state who met in Berlin on the very day that NATO planes began bombing raids over Yugoslavia, after the Serbian state denied the right of independence to the predominantly Moslem province of Kosovo.

This same European Union, whose body of commissioners just resigned because of widespread charges of corruption, decreed not merely that there should be a "Palestinian state," but that there must be one, and that the EU will bring it into being. Meanwhile, there are reliable reports from the Vatican that Arafat's state will be officially declared when the Pope visits Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the year 2000.

The EU ministers made it clear that the views of Israel on this subject are of no account. As the views of Yugoslavia are of no account, Israel's perspective is also not considered by the EU.

The EU is not offerring unsolicited advice. It has, however, issued an ultimatum to Jerusalem, while ordering NATO air attacks on Yugoslavia, to force Belgrade to accept a NATO-dictated "peace plan" for Kosovo, where a population predominated by an Albanian Moslem ethnicity seeks to secede from Yugoslavia.

The European Union nations plus the United States, who overlap the membership of NATO, have appointed themselves the champion of the secessionist Kosovars, and they enforce their views with incendiary bombs.

And since the EU has also proclaimed itself the champion of Palestine state, why should it not also enforce its view in Israel with equal force?

In the meantime, both the US and the EU are providing military training for the Palestine Liberation Army, as reported in the recently issued paper, "Palestininan Security Services: Between Police and Army", issued by he Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a prestigious institution founded by professionals who now run middle east policy at the State Department: Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross.

Yet any prospective Palestinian state, so dear to the hearts of the EU, the Pope and the Clinton Administration, would make minimal demands that no Israeli government could ever accede to: withdrawal from lands that Israel won in the 1967 war, relinquishment of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and recognition of the right of Palestinian Arab refugees to return to the homes and villages that they left in 1948. All of these demands are unanimously agreed to by all of the permanent and rotating members of the UN Security Council.

And if the nascent Palestinian entity were to attack Israel and incur televised civilian casulties, Israel would most certainly be judged by world opinion to be in the wrong.

With an Israel not in compliance of the demands made upon it by the US, the European Union, the Vatican and the United Nations, NATO's bombs over Yugoslavia have set the precedent of enforcing the independence of ethnic minorities.

They may apply that precedent to Israel as well.

The nightmare of NATO war planes over Tel Aviv may not be so far fetched.

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Al-Ahram Weekly
25th-31st March, 1999

Arabs Adopt Reconciliatory Agenda
by Khaled Dawoud

For weeks before the opening of the Arab League's foreign ministers' meeting last Wednesday, Arab diplomats had been fearing a repetition of an earlier gathering in January when the Iraqi delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Mohamed Said Al-Sahhaf, walked out.

And it was a fear that was well-founded, given the almost daily US and British strikes against the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq, and bitter accusations and threats from Baghdad against Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for allowing US bombers to use their bases to launch the attacks.

Furthermore, the Iraqi delegation's agenda for the foreign ministers' regular biannual session added to fears of a further split in Arab ranks. Al-Sahhaf proposed adding two items to the meeting's agenda: condemnation of the attacks and agreement that the no-fly zones had been unilaterally imposed by the US and were not part of UN Security Council resolutions passed against Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait; and the discussion of the fate of those "missing in action" since the 1991 Gulf War.

Using the word "missing" was an attempt by Baghdad to confirm its claim that it does not hold any Kuwaiti prisoners of war (POWs). Kuwait, which rejects Baghdad's claim, has been organising international campaigns calling for the release of up to 600 Kuwaitis allegedly held in Iraqi prisons. Iraq claims that in the chaos that followed the end of the Gulf War, many people, including 1,150 Iraqi civilians and top-ranking officers, went missing. Baghdad claims that the alleged Kuwaiti POWs are most likely among those who went missing.

For key US allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, it was out of the question for them to "condemn" the world's superpower and the country which they see as the main guarantor of their security. Also unacceptable to them was the Iraqi position on the issue of the POWs. Thus, for the first time in the League's 54-year history, the Arab foreign ministers failed to approve the agenda of the meeting in their closed session. An Arab diplomat who attended the meeting told Al-Ahram Weekly that heated exchanges took place . . . .

The experienced Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid adjourned the meeting to allow for mediation behind closed doors. The foreign ministers of Egypt, Syria, Qatar and Oman and the Moroccan minister of state, who headed his country's delegation, were involved in overnight negotiations between Iraq and the Saudi and Kuwaiti delegations to reach a formula that would satisfy all parties.

The compromise . . . was that Iraq agreed to drop its two proposed items for the agenda in return for adding two paragraphs to the report issued by the Arab League secretary-general on the session. The report is considered part of the official documents issued by the meeting. The ministers agreed to refer to the issue of the prisoners or "missing" as a "humanitarian problem between Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia." The paragraph approved by the ministers asked Abdel-Meguid to set up a mechanism in coordination with the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) which would help solve this problem. The ICRC has been investigating the issue of Kuwaiti POWs for some years.

Regarding the US-British strikes and the no-fly zones, the ministers called for "stopping all acts carried out against Iraq outside the framework of Security Council resolutions." This vague sentence left the door open for all parties to be satisfied. The word "condemnation" was not used, and the US and Britain were not referred to by name. From now on, it is up to each country to decide what acts constitute a violation of the Security Council resolutions passed against Iraq.

Informed Arab sources said that the Iraqi delegation accepted the so-called "conciliatory formulas" in return for pledges from key Arab countries that they will follow up on their effort to calm the tension between Iraq and its neighbours in order to put more pressure on the US to stop its attacks

Bound and Helpless
by Salah Issa
[a veteran journalist and political analyst]

Only the secretary-general of the Arab League seems interested in celebrating the League's 54th anniversary. Since its establishment in 1945, the general feeling has been that the League has done nothing, has no role in the present, and is quite futile for the future. During its existence, all the Arab states gained their independence, their populations doubled, their GNP soared and the number of member states multiplied. Yet the League suffers from financial crises perpetrated by states that refuse to pay their subscriptions under the pretext that they represent an unjustified expense.

The League cannot claim credit for solving any political dispute involving an Arab country. Border problems are now referred immediately to the Security Council or the International Court of Justice. Ethnic and religious minorities are oppressed until foreign powers are brought in for protection and support.

The helplessness of the Arab League is not rooted in its Charter, which permits member states to refrain from implementing resolutions they opposed: many states have refrained from honouring resolutions they endorsed. This helplessness cannot be remedied by an amendment of the Charter, or by the decision to adopt resolutions by a majority rather than a consensus; nor can it be resolved by the creation of new institutions.

The problem is one of priorities, and the inability to see eye to eye on matters of national security. Each Arab ruler places his personal security before that of his country, and his country's before that of the Arab nation.

Protecting Egypt's Back
by Dina Ezzat

"If,and when, relations with Sudan and Ehiopia are stabilized, Egypt will not have to worry too much about threats coming from the Horn of Africa. Dina Ezzat reports from Addis Ababa"

Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, in Addis Ababa for a ministerial meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), held separate meetings with his Ethiopian and Sudanese opposite numbers, Seyoum Mesifin and Moustafa Osman Ismail, respectively.

But it appears dialogue may not be enough. The governments of Sudan and Ethiopia must prove that they are serious about taking the types of decisions that could give a push to their relations with Egypt.

The main problems in Egypt's relations with both Sudan and Ethiopia are of a strategic nature. One such problem is Ethiopia's discontent with a treaty that governs Egypt's quota of the Nile waters. Ethiopia argues that this treaty was signed during colonial rule and, therefore, should be annulled. Ethiopia, which is an upstream country trying to have Egypt's quota slashed, has not reacted positively to statements by Egyptian officials suggesting that the two countries could cooperate on making the best use of the water, provided that Ethiopia desisted from attempts to reduce the Egyptian quota.

Contrary to ideas entertained by certain circles within the Addis Ababa regime, the official added, Egypt does not want to see Ethiopia short of water, but believes it has the potential to set up projects to ensure the maximum use of its quota.

Because certain sections of the Ethiopian government think Egypt is siding with Eritrea in its war with Ethiopia, Addis Ababa appears to be opting for low-profile relations with Egypt.

Sudan is of equal strategic interest to Egypt, but relations have been cool for more than two years, as a result of information and allegations suggesting Khartoum's involvement in a failed assassination attempt against President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.

However, Sudan recently began talking to Egypt about ending its support, in various forms, for Egyptian Islamist militants bent on overthrowing the Egyptian government. Egyptian officials concede that Sudan has delivered on a significant part of these promises, but they also say there is a lot of room for improvement.

Furthermore, the lack of political will on the part of the Sudanese government is hindering progress.

Security cooperation is not the only hurdle that has to be overcome if relations between the two countries are to improve. About a year ago, Sudan promised to restore to Egypt all its Sudan-based irrigation and education property, which was confiscated by Khartoum in the early 1990s.

Egyptian sources say that they hope Khartoum will make real progress on this issue. But they stress that they are not giving this matter priority over working with both the Sudanese government and opposition to bring all of the country's warring factions to a reconciliation conference.

Israel has a wide-scale presence in the countries of East Africa, particularly those in the Horn of Africa. According to the source, Egypt does not want the current chaotic political and economic atmosphere to continue in the area because Israel could use it to threaten Egypt's strategic interests there, such as the Nile sources or access to the Red Sea.

According to a senior security source, "We are not suggesting that Israel entered this part of the world just to annoy us, but we know for a fact that if it has a chance to do so, it will not miss it, if only to give us a headache. We are determined to do all we can to avoid this scenario."

Translations by
Dr. Joseph Lerner,
Co-Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645

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