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Wednesday, May 5, 2004
Excerpts:Zionist plot terrorism in Saudi Arabia. Death sentence for dissident.War continues.Volatile Iraq 5 May 2004

Excerpts:Zionist plot terrorism in Saudi Arabia.Death sentence for
dissident.War continues.Volatile Iraq 5 May 2004

+++ARAB NEWS (Saudi) 5 May '04:
"Kingdom Is Determined to Crush Extremists and Protect Foreigners: Saud"
Abdul Rahman Almotawa, Arab News/Eqtisadiah -
QUOTES FROM TEXT:
"Prince Saud accused exiled dissidents of being associated with
pro-Israeli groups."
" 'Although these two renegades have no weight ...they have contacts
with, and even financing from, sides connected to Israel.' "
"Prince Saud made the remarks when asked to explain a reference by
Prince Abdullah to 'Zionist hands' behind terror attacks that have rocked
the Kingdom over the past year."
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EXCERPTS:

JEDDAH, 5 May 2004 - Saudi Arabia yesterday vowed to crush the extremists
behind a wave of terror attacks in the Kingdom and said it was doing its
utmost to protect foreign residents.
The Saudi government "is determined to strike with an iron fist in fighting
this deviant group and rooting out" the terrorists, Foreign Minister Prince
Saud Al-Faisal told a news conference.
His remarks echoed those of Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and
commander of the National Guard, hours after four gunmen went on a shooting
rampage in the industrial city of Yanbu on Saturday, killing five
expatriates and a National Guard officer.
...Prince Saud accused exiled dissidents of being associated with pro-Israel
groups. "As everyone knows from (Monday's) Interior Ministry statement, the
leader of the latest attack had links with the renegades (Saad) Al-Faqih and
(Mohammed) Al-Masari," he said.
"Although these two renegades have no weight ... they have contacts with,
and even financing from, sides connected to Israel," he said.
The Interior Ministry statement said that the chief of the four assailants
who carried out Saturday's shooting spree in Yanbu was Mustafa Abdul Qader
Al-Ansari, who was wanted by authorities. It said he left the Kingdom around
10 years ago and joined Faqih and Masari, working "with them in their
suspicious committee," a reference to the Committee for the Defense of
Legitimate Rights formed by the two men in 1993.
Prince Saud made the remarks when asked to explain a reference by Prince
Abdullah to "Zionist hands" behind terror attacks that have rocked the
Kingdom over the past year. "It is no secret that extremist Zionist elements
... are waging a fierce campaign against Saudi Arabia," leveling "false
accusations and fabricated slanders" at the Kingdom, the foreign minister
said.
"The desperate attempt by the terrorist group to undermine security,
stability and national unity serves the interests of these Zionist elements,
which makes the convergence of goals tantamount to evidence of some kind of
link" between the Zionists, the terrorists "and the Kingdom's enemies
abroad," he said. Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia was doing its best to
protect foreign residents. ...
]... "I don't think there is any country doing more than Saudi Arabia is
doing ... whether in confronting domestic terrorism or in cooperating
against external sources of terror," the prince said. "There are government
reports and international reports that confirm this fact. Hence past
slanderous accusations that the Kingdom was not doing enough on this score
have all but ceased," he added.
The United States last week praised Saudi Arabia for making significant
strides in combating extremist violence. "Saudi Arabia has launched an
aggressive, comprehensive and unprecedented campaign to hunt down
terrorists, uncover their plots and cut off their sources of funding," the
State Department counterterrorism coordinator, Cofer Black, wrote in the
introduction to the department's annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism"
report.
Questioned about an April 15 call by Washington to its citizens to leave
Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud said Western governments had to issue such
warnings in order not to be accused of negligence in the event of terror
attacks. However, he was also critical of the warnings.
"We believe threats should be assessed in conjunction with the host country
before a warning because the exchange of security intelligence among two
countries or more is the way to protect both (foreign) residents and
citizens in this country," he said.
. . .
[IMRA: Reuters reports AAB LUMMUS, targeted in Saturday's attack, was
evacuating all 90 foreign staff.]

+++JORDAN TIMES 5 May '04:
"Judiciary plays down death sentence on dissident"

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran's powerful hardline judiciary hastened Tuesday to play
down a provincial judge's confirmation of a death sentence for blasphemy on
dissident academic Hashem Aghajari, saying the verdict was not final.
. . .Meanwhile, defence lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said Aghajari has again
refused to appeal against the death sentence. Aghajari had already refused
to appeal when the sentence was first pronounced by a judge in the western
city of Hamedan for a speech he made critical of Iran's dominant clergy.
"He told me yesterday that he refused to lodge an appeal and forbade me to
do it on his behalf," Nikbakht told reporters.
. . .
The speech hit at the very core of Iran's 25-year-old Islamic regime,
calling for a reformation in the state religion and asserting that Muslims
..."should not blindly follow" religious leaders.
For powerful conservative hardliners, those comments were seen as a frontal
assault on the Shiite doctrine of emulation and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's
status as supreme guide.
. . .
Following demonstrations by students and protests by reformists in the
government over the death sentence, Khamenei demanded it be reviewed. In
January 2003, the supreme court ordered a retrial. "The judge has ...
maintained his original decision," Zekrollah Ahmadi, the judiciary chief for
Hamedan province in western Iran, told AFP on Monday.
"The decision must again be referred to Iran's supreme court," which
rejected the earlier condemnation on technical grounds, Ahmadi said, ...any
technical flaws had now been rectified.
Elham said the case would now go back before three judges of the supreme
court, whom he described as "experienced."
Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, in an open letter carried by the state
news agency IRNA on Monday before the news from Hamedan, had condemned the
sentencing of Aghajari.
. . .
The office of Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi
was quick to condemn the Hamedan judge's act.

+++ HAARETZ 5 May '04:
"Gaza chopper strike kills 2, wounds 22" By Haaretz Staff and Agencies
QUOTES FROM TEXT:
" gunmen fired two missiles at Israeli tanks in the camp before the
helicopter struck. The army said the raid was to stop the firing of
missiles at settlements in thr Gush Kartif bloc."

"a militarty court indicted a 15-year-old Palestinian boy yesterday on
charges of recruiting teenagers to become suicide bombers, then helping them
to prepare for missions"
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EXCERPTS:

An Israeli attack helicopter fired a missile at a group of armed
Palestinians in Gaza's Khan Yunis refugee camp yesterday, killing a
25-year-old militant and a 16-year-old civilian and wounding 22, residents
and doctors said. IDF troops withdrew from the area... .

Witnesses said gunmen fired two missiles at Israeli tanks in the camp before
the helicopter struck. The army said the raid was to stop the firing of
missiles at settlements in the Gush Katif bloc.

. . .
.

In the West Bank, a 9-year-old boy was killed and two 11-year-old boys were
wounded yesterday. According to one version ..., they accidentally detonated
a pipe bomb apparently prepared by militants.

Witnesses said the boys found the crude device hidden in the crevice of a
stone wall close to a main road ... and it exploded while they were playing
with it.

Other Palestinian sources said ... the explosion had been caused by a flare
left by IDF troops after training in the area ... . The IDF said it had no
information on the blast.

Early yesterday, IDF troops took up positions around ... Arafat's office
building in ...Ramallah, witnesses said.

They said IDF vehicles surrounded the complex and soldiers took over
buildings across from the compound. IDF officials said soldiers were
arresting suspects, and the operation was not linked to Arafat's office.

...a military court indicted a 15-year-old Palestinian boy yesterday on
charges of recruiting teenagers to become suicide bombers, then helping
prepare them for missions ... .

The court said Nasser Awartani was the key contact between the youth of the
West Bank city of Nablus and two militant groups. He had personally
recruited a 16-year-old who blew himself up at a military checkpoint last
year and another ... caught with a bomb strapped to his body.

Palestinian militant groups, especially around Nablus, have been trying to
attract youths to carry out attacks, feeling they are more likely to evade
Israeli security checks. ...

The military court in the northern West Bank charged Awartani on 12 counts,
including attempted murder and membership in a militant group. The court
said Awartani oversaw a recruitment network for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs'
Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, ... .

+++HAARETZ 5 May '04:"In Iraq, even the flag is temporary" By Zvi Har'el
HEADING:"A dispute over the design of the new Iraqi flag, which reminds some
of the Israeli flag, reflects the country's political and religious
struggles."
QUOTES FROM TEXT:
"Liquor stores in Baghdad are open only after dark, and in Nassariyas,
families whose daughters are not dressed sufficiently modestly are
threatened."

"one of the complaints against the flag criticizes the decision to
emphasize the yellow stripe, which represents the Kurds, instead of ...green
and black,which represents Islam."

"A few months ago, the temporary governing council decided to invalidate
the law and subject personal-status issues to religious law to strengthen
the sharia. The decision aroused such intense opposition that the council
reversed"

"most of them [candidates] who had presented themselves as 'technocrats'
didn't have more than an elementary school education."
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EXCERPTS:
The debate over Iraq's new flag represents the struggles ... ahead of the
planned dissolution of the interim governing council in June.

... Liquor stores in Baghdad are open only after dark, and in Nassariya,
families whose daughters are not dressed sufficiently modestly are
threatened.

The new design, a light blue crescent above two blue stripes surrounding a
yellow stripe on a white background reminded too many Iraqis of ... the
Israeli one. ... The angry responses ... led the Iraqi interim governing
council to ask the designer to slightly change the colors - to darken the
shades of blue in the crescent and the two stripes.

..."Everything is temporary today in Iraq," an Iraqi journalist wrote. "The
governing council is temporary, the occupation is temporary, the new
constitution is temporary, and the flag will also be temporary."

. . .

The new flag is supposed to eliminate any reference to the previous Iraqi
flag, which is identified with ... Saddam Hussein, and emphasize the new
ethnic harmony between Arabs and Kurds. But this coerced harmony, as
depicted in the design of the new flag, ... added fuel to the political
struggles... one of the complaints against the flag criticizes the decision
to emphasize the yellow stripe, which represents the Kurds, instead of ...
green and black, which represent Islam.

. . .
Apart from the crescent, the Islamic religion has no representation in the
new flag ... . The question of the position and authority of religion stands
at the center of the dispute over the image of the new Iraq. According to
the temporary constitution, religion will not be the source for the chief
legislative authority ... Islamic law won't even be the decisive factor in
issues connected with personal status, despite the attempt to make them
subject to religious law, or sharia. Law No. 137, which deals with personal
status and was legislated in the Saddam period, determines that personal
status issues such as inheritance, marriage, divorce, and particularly the
position of women be set according to the laws of the state and not Muslim
religious law.

A few months ago, the temporary governing council decided to invalidate the
law and subject personal-status issues to religious law, in a bid to
strengthen sharia. The decision aroused such intense opposition that the
council reversed its decision.

The attempt to change the law took place when Abdel Aziz al-Hakim was
serving as head of the governing council. A new leader takes over the
council every month in a rotation based on the alphabetical order of the
council members' names. Al-Hakim was the representative of the Supreme
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the major Shi'ite
organizations that operated in Iraq before the war. As expected, the primary
opposition to Al-Hakim's attempt to strengthen Islamic law came from the
Kurdish representatives on the council, who had been pressured by the
Kurdish population in northern Iraq, who do not live by religious laws.

Although it's difficult to claim Kurdish women enjoy total freedom and are
treated as equal to men, there's no doubt they are among the most
independent women in the Middle East. Kurdish women serve in the two Kurdish
governments in northern Iraq and the joint Kurdish parliament, as well as
conducting business and generally dressing like European women.

The Kurdish leadership in the temporary governing council, and any
governmental body that may arise in Iraq, should expect a struggle from
women ... . They will also have to deal with two religious bodies that are
quite powerful in Iraq: the religious Shi'ite leadership and the Sunni
council of sages of religious law.

. . .
Practical examples of this can be found not in the cities that tend to make
the headlines, like Falluja and Basra, but in places like Nassariya, where
residents report that religious people threaten families whose daughters are
seen as not dressing modestly. Women are compelled to go to work in
traditional dress and even a veil, which they take off when they get to
work. Video stores have also merited visits from the religious enforcers,
who, in some cases, have destroyed videos they considered objectionable. A
newspaper was closed down for publishing criticism of the religious people.

Seeking solace in the mosques

Religious people are now lecturing university students on "the right
path.".... Mosques are becoming more and more popular, which Iraqi
sociologists say indicates that they are filling the vacuum created by the
chaos. ...

The political campaign of Islam manifests itself in graffiti portraying huge
pictures of Shi'ite religious sages and in new political-religious
literature. This campaign is readying the ground for the important struggle
...ahead of the appointment of a new ruling council at the end of June ...

Administrative vortex

... The United Nations special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, has proposed
appointing a government comprised of public leaders, technocrats and
well-known people, who would be appointed after consultations with
representatives of the various groups in Iraq. Brahimi also proposes a
national congress of between 1,000 and 2,000 people, which will make
decisions on significant issues that have to do with Iraq's future, similar
to a gathering of tribal leaders in Afghanistan.

However the council will be appointed, two principles are clear even at this
stage: members of the temporary governing council will not have positions in
the new government, and the new government will be limited in its authority
for as long as coalition forces are operating in Iraq. Dismantling the
governing council ...is imperative, since it has lost all legitimacy in the
eyes of the citizens of Iraq, and because it has not managed to generate the
change the Americans expected or establish a local civilian government that
has proved its ability.

... The chief American administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has lately
rejected a list of some 70 candidates for positions of director-generals and
their deputies in the government offices, since they turned out to be
relatives of current ministers. When the candidates were asked to send in
their resumes, it became clear that most of them, who had presented
themselves as "technocrats," didn't have more than an elementary-school
education.

Nepotism and religious attachment won't disappear ... . But since the
government will have broader authority, the religious struggle within and
among the Shi'ites, the Sunnis and the Kurds could intensify ... a struggle
that no external group ...will really be able to influence, since the
temporary Iraqi constitution will also be changed, and it's likely to be the
opposite of what the Americans wanted.

If such a constitution seeks to paint Iraq in a uniform religious-political
color, it is likely to lead the Kurds to stop cooperating with the new Iraqi
government and strengthen their claim of independence. If Iraq becomes a
Shi'ite nation, it will set a historic precedent by becoming the first
Arabic Shi'ite country in the Middle East... .

...; an understanding has developed that the flag is temporary, like
everything else in the country, and that there will be no escape from a flag
that represents the "true" Iraq - one with the ambition to bring back the
days of the Shi'ites from the 70th century C.E.

Dr. Joseph Lerner, Co-Director IMRA

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