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Arabs say U.S. policies add to Mideast insecurity
( 2003-06-22 12:14) (Agencies)

The head of the Arab League said the United States on Saturday of not making its intentions clear in the Middle East and adding to insecurity in the region by occupying Iraq.

Kicking off a meeting of high-level politicians and business executives, Amr Moussa said Washington had never sat down with Arab leaders to explain its policy in the region.

"There has never been a strategic talk with the Arab world," said Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister and now secretary general of the main Arab political grouping. "We feel, all of us in the Middle East, insecure."

His views were echoed by the foreign minister of Qatar, one of Washington's closest Middle East allies.

"They (Washington) know what they want. Maybe we don't know what they want," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani told the same gathering.

They were speaking at the start of a three-day meeting of the Davos, Switzerland-based World Economic Forum, to discuss political and economic development in the troubled region.

It brings together commercial and political leaders from around the region and outside, including Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Moussa's accusations that the United States was steering an unknown policy around the Arab world -- particularly regarding Iraq -- was rebutted by Richard Lugar, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Lugar said Washington's goals were clear.

"Our intentions are for success that Iraq will become democratic...have a vibrant economy...and be friends with its neighbors," he said. "Our hope is that all the nations in the area will have economic improvement."


Many Arabs fear the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a precursor to a wider policy of forced regime change throughout the region, where Western-style democracy is -- at best -- in its infancy.

Syria and Iran have recently been subject to sharp comments from the U.S. administration, adding to regional nerves.

"We are all worried. This adds to our problems and our stifled anger," Moussa said.

Both Moussa and al-Thani said the region needed to change and was taking some steps in that direction, but that changes orchestrated by the United States would not be welcome.

"Change should not be imposed," Moussa said. "This should emanate from the people themselves. (Democracy) is not a gift that is presented to you."

Al-Thani admitted Arab governments need to change: "We need to be more transparent and to tell our people the truth."

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