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Mubarak:  War Against Iraq May Be Prevented - 2003-01-15

President Mubarak returned to Cairo from Saudi Arabia Wednesday, following meetings with Saudi leaders about the situation in Iraq. Mr. Mubarak says he has also been having regular conversations with Washington and has received assurances from President Bush that war is not the only option, in the effort to disarm Iraq of alleged weapons of mass destruction.

The Egyptian leader says he continues to believe war can be averted, but he also says the issue of war is in the hands of the United States. As Mr. Mubarak put it, "our countries are not the decision-makers", war is the decision of the "superpower."

Mona Makrahm Ebeid is a political science professor at American University in Cairo. She says there seems to be a general perception throughout the region that the situation is far beyond its control.

"The Arab world seems to be totally dismayed by what is happening," she said. "People don't know where to stand and there is this sense of insecurity, sense of anxiety, and that's why you get the sense that nobody seems to be speaking, we've been silenced somehow."

Uraib el Rantawi is the head of the al Quds Center for Political Studies in Jordan. He believes Arab leaders may make one final attempt to avert a war in Iraq.

"They will offer a kind of initiative to go to Baghdad to tell Saddam Hussein this is the end of the last step before the war and you have to leave the country," he said. "Otherwise you will face the serious consequences of the coming war against Iraq. I think this is the last shot in the Arab leaders' guns."

Other Arab analysts say it is time for President Bush to disclose what information he has about the Iraq's possession of banned weapons.

Dr. Hassan Nafae is the head of the political science department at Cairo University. He says since President Bush maintains that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, the president should turn that information over to the Security Council.

"If you do have more evidence that Iraq has arms of mass destruction, the United States has the obligation to inform the Security Council with that evidence," Dr. Nafae said. "Otherwise, many will see the policy of the United States as a pretext to launch a war for other reasons, other reasons than arms of mass destruction."

President Mubarak said Wednesday that Arab capitals are continuing to advise Baghdad to cooperate fully with the inspection process, including addressing recent concerns that Iraq has not fully disclosed information regarding such issues as the whereabouts of alleged missing chemical weapons and missile engines.

Mr. Mubarak also said he is convinced President Bush wants to find a peaceful solution.