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Arab Leaders Reject bin Laden's Call for 'Holy War' - 2001-11-04

There has been sharp reaction from high-level Arab officials to Osama bin Laden's call for a Muslim "holy war" against the West.

"There is a war between bin Laden and the whole world," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher. His sentiments were echoed by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who said "bin Laden does not speak in the name of Arabs and Muslims."

Both men, in Damascus for a meeting of the Arab League, were responding to Saturday's broadcast comments of Osama bin Laden, who called for Muslims to join a holy war against the West, Christians and Jews. Mr. Bin Laden said Arab leaders who supported the U.S. led war against Taleban targets in Afghanistan are traitors.

Saied Saadek is a writer, teacher and political communications expert in Cairo. He says Osama bin Laden is attempting to exploit Arab anger over problems that exist in the Arab world. His tactic, according to Saadek is "To embarrass and hurt the legitimacy of Arab and Islamic regimes. This has been his main enemy," he explained. "Bin Laden has been trying to foment strife between the leaders of the Islamic states and Arab states and the people. Especially when many Arab states have economic, political, and social grievances and problems with their own regimes."

Mr. Saadek says that as long as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues, Osama bin Laden will have the psychological ammunition to influence the citizens of the Arab world.

The foreign ministers of 10 Arab countries are meeting in Damascus to discuss international efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, while also talking about ways for Arab countries to help Palestinians.

Also on their agenda: the impact on the Middle East of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.