|US turns to Arabs to keep the
CAIRO - The United States is turning
to Arab regimes for support against increasing armed
resistance in Iraq, official sources here say.
source close to the Egyptian foreign ministry confirmed
reports that surfaced in the Arab press late last week
that the United States has sought the help of Egyptian
"The Americans raised the
issue," said the official who wished to remain
unidentified. "They were testing our pulse." He declined
to reveal what the Egyptian response would be.
US congressional delegation arrived in Cairo from
Baghdad earlier this week for talks with Egyptian
officials on the situation in Iraq. Chairman of the
House intelligence committee, Florida Republican Porter
Goss led the team.
"The escalation in attacks
against US forces in Iraq was at the center of Goss'
talks with Egyptian officials," the official source
The US Senate called last week for North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and United Nations
(UN) troops to be sent to Iraq. Spain, Poland, Romania,
Bulgaria, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, the Baltic states
and possibly the Philippines, Thailand and Mongolia may
send peacekeeping forces.
The Lebanese newspaper
al-Kifah al-Arabi reported Saturday that the United
States is seeking troops also from Saudi Arabia and the
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a regional grouping that
includes Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab
Emirates and Oman.
Earlier this week, the
London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat reported that
the United States was seeking Egyptian help also to "win
the support of other Arab states". Al-Hayat reported
that the US wanted Egyptian support particularly to
persuade other countries to accept ambassadors appointed
by the new governing council in Iraq.
governor of Iraq L Paul Bremer III, needs an Iraqi
governing body to share responsibility - or blame - in
establishing post-war order, and he needs Arab backing
of these polices for the same reasons, Egyptian analysts
A 25-member transitory council in Iraq
appointed by the United States held its inaugural
session Sunday. One of its first decisions was to
celebrate April 9, the date the US troops entered
Baghdad, as a national holiday, and to cancel holidays
of the Saddam Hussein era.
"The problem with the
recently appointed council is that it is not elected,"
Hafiz Hussein, former head of the Nasser Academy for
Strategic Studies in Cairo said. "It is not
representative either. And it is the first council to
celebrate the date of the start of an occupation. This
is not a good start."
The council comprises
officials representing several religious and ethnic
groups. It has been asked to map the path towards
elections, not planned for at least a year.
Arab regimes have publicly said they cannot accept US
forces ruling Iraq because this would legitimize US
"The bitter fact is that the council
would still be a cover for decisions made by the
Anglo-American occupation authority," commentator Saeed
Ahmedi wrote on al-Jazeera.net. "Definitely, an Arab
face for security and peacekeeping would take the sting
from any Iraqi resistance operations."
Anas Fouda wrote on the popular bab.com website that
Egypt helped persuade Palestinian groups to stop
resistance activities against Israel, and that Egyptian
support to the US presence in Iraq could be calculated
to have a similar effect.
"But this time if Arab
countries send troops to protect the Americans, the
public will not look at this as effort to establish
peace but as an effort to legitimize American
occupation," he said.
On Tuesday, a previously
unknown Iraqi resistance group warned foreign countries,
including Arab nations, not to give in to US demands to
send troops to Iraq.
"We will resist with
weapons any military intervention under the umbrella of
the United Nations, the Security Council, NATO, or
Islamic and Arab countries," the group calling itself
the Iraq Liberation Army said in a statement broadcast
on the Dubai-based al-Arabiya television.