THE AMERICANS HAVE
CREATED AN ARAB "CHE" AND HE WILL PROBABLY MEET THE SAME FATE
MER - WASHINGTON - 30 August:
One can't count on the establishment American press when it comes to
the Middle East, that's for sure. Even when the facts are right, the emphasis and
perspective are nearly always off, usually way off. And the reasons why are no secret,
however rarely discussed with candidness and veracity.
This said, occassionally an interesting and insightful article comes
along as in this case, dateline Khartoum and published in the New York Times last week.
True, the choice of interviewee is questionable, the publication's motives suspect, and
the general presentation slanted in various subtle ways. But even so, the situation
created by America's "New War" is so flammable that even the American elite are
being warned to pay some attention to the result of their actions.
"Now he is a hero in
Saudi Arabia, in Islamabad, in Cairo, in all capitals of the Muslim world."
"You don't rub the entire Muslim
world's nose in the dirt and make it kneel."
"Bin Laden is not an
aberration. He is part of a long thread that goes back to the 18th-century Western
occupation of the Muslim world."
IN SUDAN A
MODERATE THINKS U.S. SHOT ITSELF IN THE FOOT
By JANE PERLEZ
New York Times - 25 August:
KHARTOUM, Sudan -- A normally serene scholar of Islam named
Abdulrahman Abuzayd, who believes passionately in the wisdom of his religion and its
values, is furious at the United States.
He is no friend of the National Islamic Front's government in Sudan.
Indeed, two years ago, it burned his office at the university he led and forced him to
He also is unhappy that the government invited Osama bin Laden,
considered a top financier of terrorism by the United States, to take refuge in his
But sending cruise missiles, he says, is no way to deal with
extremists -- and no way to deal with a government that may or may not have allowed a
factory to make a compound of a nerve gas.
"As a Sudanese I'm mad," said Abuzayd, as he sat on his
veranda, which looks over the urban landscape of low-slung, khaki-colored homes, a
sun-bleached dusty road and an occasional wandering goat. "OK, we have problems with
this regime. But we solve them ourselves. Now the Americans have come and given it a big
shot in the arm."
He has the same concern about bin Laden, whose image -- with a long
black beard and varying styles of headgear -- is now flashed around the world. "The
Americans have suddenly created a Muslim hero out of him, whereas last week he was
considered a fanatic nut," Abuzayd said. "Now he is a hero in Saudi Arabia, in
Islamabad, in Cairo, in all capitals of the Muslim world."
The United States has made serious missteps, he said, first by
failing to convince the Muslim world that bin Laden was responsible for the bombings of
American embassies in East Africa and then by attacking Afghanistan and the Sudan.
"By its strikes in Afghanistan and here, America did not
eliminate terrorism," Abuzayd said. "This is not terrorism -- this is a
resurging Muslim world. You don't deal with it with cruise missiles, you discuss it. You
don't rub the entire Muslim world's nose in the dirt and make it kneel."
Abuzayd is upset because he has long articulated an Islam that is
tolerant and free of corruption. At Omdurman Ahlia University, a private institution
largely financed by the Kuwaiti government, he introduced a wide range of courses for male
and female students and tried to keep the radical influence of the governing Islamic Front
After being forced out, he was hired by the U.N. high commissioner
for refugees for an unusual task: to travel as a Muslim scholar among the Taliban in
Afghanistan to talk about questions of justice and education.
He believes that most of his countrymen believe in his kind of
Islam, too. But now he and others here complain that the unilateral American action will
be likely to reinforce anti-Western sentiment in Sudan, which has become increasingly
isolated in the last five years.
The American Embassy closed here nearly two years ago, after the
United States contended that the Sudanese government had not done enough to close down
camps for training terrorists. Many European embassies have scaled back and cut their aid.
Before, it was not uncommon to see a European face on the ramshackle
streets of the capital. Now it is rare.
Most Western officials now concede that the training camps have been
closed down. Abuzayd also said he believes that the camps have been shuttered -- in part,
he said, because the government had established a network of domestic security services
and did not feel the need for the extra security that the training camps provided.
The government also acquiesced to demands from the United States and
some moderate Arab countries that bin Laden be expelled from here in 1996.
Some Western diplomats have said that even though the government
here persists in fighting a pernicious civil war in the south and precludes any real
pluralist politics, it was a mistake not to reward it for the attempts at change.
For many in Sudan and the rest of the Muslim world, this lack of
response, and now the attack on the pharmaceutical plant, contrasts sharply with the
American attitude toward Israel, Abuzayd said. "It can't help but be compared to what
is going on in Israel," he said. "They kick out Arab settlers, uproot their
homes and nothing happens. I believe that almost all young Muslims are radicalized by the
Referring to Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, he
said, "Netanyahu is the ugliest face of arrogance caused by unflinching levels of
The historical reasons for the violence of bin Laden and other
Muslim radicals was also important for the United States to consider, Abuzayd said.
"Bin Laden is not an aberration," he said. "He is
part of a long thread that goes back to the 18th-century Western occupation of the Muslim
world." In many of the contemporary reinterpretations of Islam in Saudi Arabia, in
Asia and in Africa, he said, anti-foreign attitudes and severe puritanism are uppermost.
"Bin Laden is a young businessman who was terribly radicalized
by his experiences in Afghanistan," when he helped fight against the Russian-backed
government there, "and by the Gulf war," Abuzayd said.
But even with the strong anti-foreign sentiment among Muslim
radicals, Abuzayd said, violent leaders only find ready support when they are attacked by
the West. This was why it is so frustrating to watch the United States play into bin
Laden's hands, he said.
In the end, Abuzayd said, he understood that the American strikes in
Afghanistan and the Sudan were motivated by Clinton's need to "do something."
But, he added, "If you have a long arm, as Mrs. Albright says,
you go in and get bin Laden. The Israelis did it in Entebbe."