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Middle East Reacts to US and British Strikes - 2001-10-08


Middle East countries are reacting to the U.S. and British strikes on Taleban targets in Afghanistan.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein condemned them, saying it fell outside of international law. Iran said they were unacceptable and would harm innocent Afghans. There is a level of fear in that city about what the future may bring.

The general reaction on the streets of Cairo among those we spoke with was that of shock and fear. A 40-year-old Egyptian woman said she is afraid this will lead to widespread violence, not only throughout the region but around the world.

A man in his 50s said the bombing of Afghanistan guarantees terrorism will spread worldwide.

A 22-year-old student asked, "what proof does the United States have the Taleban was responsible for last month's attacks in the United States?" He said "without proof terrorism will surely spread."

Walid Kazziha is a political science professor at American University in Cairo. He says no one should be surprised by the U.S. and British attacks in Afghanistan but, he says, it could lead to more acts of terrorism He said, "I think there is a potential for an intensification due to the fact, I think, generally speaking many people in the region do not see this as a necessary result of what happened in New York and Washington. I think it depends on the campaign. If we see refugees, if we see people killed, especially civilians, this would intensify the resentment against the United States and its allies."

Dia Rashwan is a senior analyst and researcher at the al Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies in Cairo. He said while Arab countries have privately backed the United States he does not expect any of them to publicly support the bombing raids. Mr. Rashwan said, "I think for the Arab governments all of them have declared, I think their final positions and we have no Arab country that has declared publicly that it will cooperate with the American army. We know that concerning the cooperation and security matters we have already seen many Arab and Islamic cooperations, some of the countries which were accused of being supportive of terrorism such as Sudan."

Fahmy Howeidi is a well-respected columnist in Cairo and throughout Egypt. He is an expert on religion in the region. He says there's a difference between what people say publicly and privately. "I doubt if you'll find anybody in particular responsibility or somebody else who would say, 'what you have done is good and bravo and very well done.' No, this is most unlikely this will happen. Nevertheless people here have suffered from terrorists. Therefore the average person is not happy that terrorism would dominate."

In the meantime, Egypt sent extra troops to guard foreign embassies in Cairo. Additional security measures have already been prepared for anticipated anti-American demonstrations Monday.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has indicated his support in the battle against terrorism. However, he said earlier this week no Egyptian troops would be used in any operations to weed out terrorists outside of Egypt's borders.

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