January 23, 2004

More Positive News from the Middle East

Remember all those dire prognostications that the very gates of Hell would open and engulf varied precincts from Tangier to Muscat should a single U.S. G.I. be let loose in Mesopotamia?

Here's yet another positive development:

"Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Thursday that one of the benefits of the Iraq war and the capture of Saddam Hussein was that Arab moderates were no longer afraid to have contacts with Israel.

"It looks like many moderate Arab leaders are more willing to have contacts with us, more than they were willing to have in the past, because they were very afraid of Saddam," Shalom told a small group of reporters.

He said he believed Arab leaders were intimidated by Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and support for opposition parties in moderate states, although he conceded in response to a question that no Arab officials had told him that.

"I see there was a change after the war in Iraq. I don't say that it's the only reason," he said.

Still, the Egyptians poured a little cold water on Shalom's thesis:

"Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, told AP: "nobody is afraid," and he questioned whether Israel's foreign minister had any more contacts today than he did before the war.

"I don't think the situation is better for Israel," he said. "We are angry and protesting" Israel's building of a wall in the West Bank and its continued policy of constructing settlements.

He added that he had no plans personally to meet with Shalom in Davos."

Posted by Gregory at January 23, 2004 10:56 AM
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