(Crown Prince) Abdullah (of Saudi Arabia) warns of war in Middle East

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Abdullah warns of war in Middle East

By a Staff Writer

STOCKHOLM/BERLIN, 10 June — Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, has warned that the Middle East is on the verge of another war, saying “we are all sitting on a powder keg which can explode at any time.”

In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Prince Abdullah, who visited Berlin recently as part of a four-nation tour, said “such a war would not only affect the Israelis and the Arabs, but many parts of the world.”

The crown prince blamed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the escalation of the conflict, adding that Sharon’s policy would harm Israel’s future. “The toll of lives has reached a level that we can no longer accept,” Prince Abdullah was quoted as saying in the interview appearing in the latest edition of Der Spiegel.

The crown prince, who is now in Stockholm, yesterday met with Swedish commerce minister and affirmed the Kingdom’s determination to join the World Trade Organization. “But the terms and conditions for our admission to the world trade body should be just and protect our economic interests,” he asserted.

Prince Abdullah said the Kingdom had opened up its market for trade and investment. “We have also introduced comprehensive economic reforms and sought privatization as a strategic choice to strengthen the private sector’s role and increase productivity.”

The crown prince cited the formation of the Supreme Economic Council and the Supreme Petroleum Council as well as a set of new legislation as part of Riyadh’s efforts to attract foreign investment and strengthen the national economy.

“We are determined to remove all the obstacles that stand in the way of economic reforms to attain our goals of developing the economy, diversifying revenue sources and keeping the country abreast of modern developments,” the crown prince said.

He underscored the viable investment climate in Saudi Arabia. “Everybody should understand that investment in the Kingdom is not risky. On the other hand, it is a guaranteed investment based on sound economy.” Saudi Arabia, which enjoys political stability and has the world’s largest oil reserves, is a strong economy, he pointed out.

In his interview with Der Spiegel, Prince Abdullah described attacks by Palestinians against Israeli targets as an “expression of desperation and frustration”. He urged Germans among others to play a greater role in securing peace in the Middle East. During his three-day visit to Germany, the crown prince held talks with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and other top German officials on the situation in the Middle East.

“The Israeli war machine is directed daily on unarmed people who throw stones at the very most,” he said. At least 450 Palestinians, 110 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed in an eight-month Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

He said Germany should not shy away from intervening in the crisis. “The crimes of the Nazis against the Jews should not be a pretext to ignore the ongoing crimes against Palestinians,” said Prince Abdullah, who is due to arrive in Morocco today for a two-day visit.

During his meeting with Prince Abdullah, the Swedish commerce minister said his country was watching Saudi economic reforms with great interest. “The decision to open up trade and investment will expand our cooperation,” he added.

The minister pointed out that trade exchange between the two countries had doubled during the past five years. Bilateral trade is tilted in favor of Sweden, whose exports to the Kingdom stood at $273.95 million in the first half of last year, or more than double the Saudi exports to Sweden at $135.44 million.

Addressing the same function, chairman of the Swedish investment company, ABB, commended the “serious and giant steps” taken by Prince Abdullah to open up the Saudi economy. Later, the crown prince held talks with the Swedish commerce minister and business leaders.

Commerce Minister Osama Faqeeh held separate talks with his Swedish counterpart on ways of strengthening commercial and economic cooperation. The Swedish minister offered his country’s support for the Kingdom’s bid to join the WTO.

Copyright © 2001 ArabNews All Rights Reserved.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), June 10, 2001


War in Mideast by October, Report Says 6:50 am PST, 8 June 2001

An intelligence firm has said Israel could be facing a full-scale regional war by October, and that top Israeli commanders are becoming frustrated by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's hesitation to destroy the Palestinian Authority's infrastructure.

Texas-based Stratfor.com, a global economic and military intelligence analyst firm, said in a report Thursday that Israeli military leaders were "disillusioned" with Sharon, and believes he may have lost his nerve.

"Sharon had pledged over and over that he would order an attack that would destroy the Palestinian Authority and exile Chairman Yasser Arafat from the region," the analytical report said.

"That opportunity came over the weekend when a Palestinian suicide bomber sent by the Islamic Hamas group blew himself up and killed another 20 Israelis," said Stratfor.

However, the next day, June 2, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz presented to Sharon a plan for a massive bombing sweep that would destroy the PA infrastructure and lead to the exile of Arafat.

"But Sharon, under massive pressure from the United States and the European Union, said no. Arafat had pledged a cease-fire, and Sharon did not want to be seen as the one who ruined the opportunity to end the 8-month-old war against the Palestinians," Stratfor.com said.

According to the report, the result of that has been some "deep soul- searching" within the upper echelons of the Israel Defense Force. Top commanders, the report said, believe Sharon is following exactly the same path as his predecessor, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, whom Sharon defeated soundly in February.

"Barak was held back from ending the war against the Palestinians by the refusal of then-President Bill Clinton to support a drive to exile Arafat. Barak felt that without U.S. support, Israel would be alone against the world," the report said.

Now, because of the civilian leadership's lack of will, IDF commanders believe Arafat, over the next several months, will continue to wage his campaign of Palestinian terror against Israel, but will "keep it below Sharon's level of tolerance."

Meanwhile, his allies in the region – Iran, Iraq, and the Hizbollah terrorist organization – "will rearm for a regional war against Israel," the report said.

"As the military brass sees it, Iran, Iraq, the Palestinians and Hizbollah want a regional war. Syria and Egypt are preparing for such a development. The brass is divided over whether Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will join such a coalition when the time comes," analysts said, in the report.

"In every meeting with U.S. officials, Mubarak has pledged he will stop such a war. But in public, the Egyptian president has been talking very tough," said the report.

The "time frame" for such a war is "between October and the end of this year," analysts said, according to the report.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), June 10, 2001.

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