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ARAB COUNTRIES: Anti-war protests banned

Arab regimes are keeping the lid on protests, according to Reuters (1/15/03): "As war-clouds loom over Iraq, Arab governments, backed by the military, intelligence services and police, are clamping down on any public protests against the a possible war in Iraq. As the US and Britain pour troops into the Gulf in their buildup against Iraq, anti-war activists around the world are mobilizing, organizing protests and offering to act as human shields in solidarity with Iraqis. But many Arab regimes, some beholden to the US for survival, fear that letting their people vent their rage could be dangerous. "I wish our people were like the Europeans, demonstrating and chanting against war. Even in the heart of America there are those who are demonstrating, but we are incapable of even getting five people on the street," said Hakem al-Fayez, head of a committee representing Jordanian civic bodies. "The problem of the Arab world is that it has been liberated from the imperialists and handed over to dictatorships," Nabil al-Sofi, a leader in the Yemeni opposition Islah party said. Analysts say the Iraq crisis poses a painful dilemma for Arab rulers, who are aware that backing Washington may fuel popular anger, already running high over staunch US support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians".

Ronald Hilton - 1/15/03