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 APPEAL OF THE WEEK

Christian Aid calls for extra funds for its partners in Iraq
  NEWSDESK

03 Apr 2003 13:59:36 GMT
Arabs see Israel's hand behind U.S. war in Iraq

By Sami Aboudi

CAIRO, April 3 (Reuters) - Long-standing Arab suspicions that Israel's interests are guiding U.S. policies in the Middle East have gained momentum since Washington's troops invaded Iraq.

Many in the Arab world believe that as well as a U.S. desire to control Iraq's vast oil resources, the war is driven by a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington out to destroy one of the main threats to the Jewish state.

Israel dismisses the charge as a "conspiracy theory".

"This war is mainly aiming to serve Israeli interests, which lie in getting rid of strong, rich Middle East states," said former ambassador Taher Shash, an analyst with the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.

Abdelhamid Riahi, political analyst and editorial writer for Tunisia's main Arabic language Achourouk daily said: "The war against Iraq is the implementation of a plan combining Israeli ambitions to wipe out the Iraqi leadership... and U.S. strategy to extend its world domination to Arab oil in the Gulf."

He denounced a "marriage between the Jewish lobby in the United States and the symbols of Christian extremism in Washington".

Eager to avoid enraging Arab public opinion, already angry at Israel's crackdown on a Palestinian uprising for independence, the United States has sought to keep the Jewish state out of the war and emphasised that it is about disarming Iraq.

Israeli top brass say the U.S. hunt for missile launchers in western Iraq was intended to keep Israel out of the conflict.

But Ismail Haniyah of the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas said the entire war was being fought for Israel.

"Israel is involved before the war, during the war and will be the first and major beneficiary when war ends," Haniyah told Reuters. "We believe Israel is directly involved by inciting against Iraq and feeding American hostility against it."

Some point to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent appearance before the powerful pro-Israel AIPAC lobby group as proof of the collusion between the two sides.

Others highlight the close relationship between the top civilian leaders in the Pentagon behind the war and Israel's ruling right-wing Likud party.

"Maybe the Bush administration can deceive the world, but to the American Jews, it can't hold back the truth. For at this point, the American administration is standing as a servant before its master, Israel," columnist Ahmed Orabi wrote in the al-Bayan newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.

PARALLELS BETWEEN U.S., ISRAEL

Abdel-Wahab Badrekhan, deputy editor of the London-based al-Hayat Arabic language daily, drew parallels between the U.S. killing of civilians at a checkpoint in Iraq and methods used by Israel against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. "Less than two weeks after this war began, the Americans have succeeded in earning the same brutal terrorist reputation as that of the Israelis, and they may even exceed them," Badrekhan wrote in a signed editorial.

"Bush's admiration of the massacres did not come from a vacuum. It had the symptoms of tutoring. It suffices to commit the first massacre and then you find yourself justifying it. You may even blame your dead victim for it," he added.

Saleh al-Qallab, a former Jordanian minister and prominent Arab columnist, said the appearance of General Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq, "reminds Arabs and Muslims of the Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz", seen by Arabs as a hardliner who advocates putting down the revolt by force.

In non-Arab Iran, President Mohammad Khatami said he saw the hands of the pro-Israel lobby in the war.

"The Americans should know that their interests have been sacrificed for the Zionist lobbies' interests," Khatami said in a speech on Thursday.

"The Zionist regime has not only occupied Islamic and Arabic countries but has taken the American nation hostage as well," he said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Emad Shahin, a professor of political science at the American University of Cairo, said Israel's interest in the war was self-evident.

"When a crime is committed, look for those who benefit from it," Shahin said. (Contributions from Dubai, Gaza, Tunis, Tehran)




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