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Outcry About Bush Speech Continues in Mideast - 2002-01-31


President Bush's State of the Union address describing Iran and Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea is still drawing strong reaction.

In Egypt's state run al-Ahram Weekly, a senior journalist wrote, "the president's speech creates unprecedented dangers to the civilized world."

In Iraq, the ruling Baath party newspaper in Baghdad said, "One year after George Bush took office, the whole world has come to know his arrogant policies."

In Iran, President Mohammad Khatami commented: "Mr. Bush spoke arrogantly, humiliatingly, aggressively, and worse than anything," he said, "it is an insult to the Iranian nation."

Political analysts in Cairo expressed the belief that the president's words were intended to provoke serious assessments of each country's attitude toward terrorism.

Former Egyptian General Mohamed Kadry Said is a military expert at the al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. He says the president's words will likely lead to serious, private discussions.

"I think it will cause fear and reconsideration," he said. "In my view, they will try to find a middle view with the United States. I think in inner circles, such an American tone will be considered, and I think it will be taken into consideration, and maybe those countries and groups will think a little bit about how they can approach America in another way."

Taha Abdel Alim, the deputy director of the al Ahram Center, expressed his belief the speech was aimed at a domestic audience. "To some extent this will be explained as a way of justifying military spending of the United States: $375 billion a year," he said. "This never happened, even in the Cold War. So, to justify a lot of money, which will be at the expense of the social priorities of the American people, needs something like this, and to create an enemy is important. Russia is not an enemy. China is not an enemy. Soviet communism has been ended, and so what's the enemy? The enemy is Korea, is Iran, is Iraq."

Mr. Alim adds that, while Iran, Iraq and North Korea may not have liked the president's speech, a warning can often produce results that lead to peaceful resolutions, rather than armed confrontation.

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