News from Abu Nasr

Jay Moore research at
Wed Apr 3 13:59:56 MST 2002

Below is an email that just came minutes ago from our old comrade on this
List, Muhammad Abu Nasr.  I had asked him what was happening on the Arab
street in response to the Israeli assaults against the Palestinians.

What is happening in your part of the world to support the Palestinians?



Well, anyhow, I don't get much directly from the
street but there were some interesting developments in
recent days in the way of demonstrations.

The demos in Cairo are supposed to be "tens of
thousands strong,"  the biggest since the al-Aqsa
intifada began on 28 September 2000.  Demos are
basically illegal in Cairo so that is saying
something.  They always try to storm the Israeli
embassy but the cops fire teargas and drive them back.

There was an article in the NYTimes on Mubarak that
mainly said that he was upset that the US allowed
Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah to upstage him with the
Saudi peace plan, but the other message that comes
across pretty clearly in that NYT article is that the
mass pressure is growing.  ("Mubarak finds himself on
the sidelines" by Patrick E. Tyler in the NYT of 2
April 2002) NYT assumes Mubarak will repress it and be
able to do so successfully.  I don't think that will
be so easy.

The URL to that, by the way (if it's still available)

In other popular news, there was a demonstration in
Jordan where demos agaisnt Israel are specifically
forbidden.  Yesterday members of the Jordanian
government took part though.  So that might be a sign
of irresistible pressure.  On the other hand it's
reported that the Jordanian media have been given
instructions from "their" government not to publish
anything that would tend to stir people up about the
situation in Palestine.  (Hell, the news by itself
will do that though, so I don't know what they

In Beirut the big student demo at the American
University of Beirut put up a big sign in huge black
letters over the foyer of their main hall renaming the
institution "The Palestinian University of Beirut."

Of course demos have happened in Damascus (where it
was in the big Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp) and

Speaking of Iraq, Iraqi officials say they want a
total ban on oil sales to the US and that if Iran
agrees, they will institute such a ban, regardless of
what any other OPEC members might do.  They actually
had meetings with Iranian representatives devoted to
that subject yesterday and Iran appears to be warm to
the idea.  So that, anyway, might actually

Meanwhile at the Arab league Iraq has called for a
total embargo on the USA including a ban on oil sales
to the US, for the opening of borders between Egypt,
Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and occupied Palestine to allow
all forms of aid and volunteers in, especially
anti-tank weapons they said. They also want the Arab
states that have diplomatic ties with the Zionists to
cut them and send the Zionist diplomats home.

To give you some more idea of the view from the Arab
"street" (yes, that is a common expression in Arabic,
wherever it originally came from) today's editorial in
the independent Arab Nationalist daily "al-Quds
al-Arabi" that's published by Abd al-Bari Atwan, a
Palestinian in London (who used to be on the Palestine
National Council until he resigned in disgust at the
sellouts) is entitled "the [Arab] street is asking,
'Where are the armies?'"  He begins by saying that we
don't need another meeting of Arab foreign ministers;
we need a coordination meeting of Arab defense

Atwan, like the Libyan government and the PFLP said
that the Saudi peace proposal should be withdrawn
In Lebanon of course Hizb Allah has shelled the Shebaa
Farms area that is still occupied by Israel and they
have struck back, but that's all still fairly
restrained.  Hizb Allah so far is keeping its activity
confined to occupied Lebanese territory.  But it can't
be excluded that they could escalate or that they
might even seek to provoke something.

Syria announced today that it is pulling its 20,000
troops in Lebanon back to the area close to the
border, in keeping with the Ta'f accords of many years
ago.  This might be a coincidence.  This might be an
effort by Syria to take their troops out of the line
of fire, and/or placate the USA and Israel.

But on the other hand, an announcement of massive
troop redeployments could also cover up all sorts of
military movements that might have more positive
significance from the standpoint of fighting the
Zionists.  It's hard to say.  On the one hand I'm
hopefull because Bashshar al-Asad has shown some
backbone from time to time.  On the other hand there's
over a quarter century of experience that says that
Damascus tries hard to avoid direct conflict with the

There's an Arab foreign minister's conference set for
Cairo for today.  I believe Syria has said they won't
sent their foreign minister, so it looks like it will
take place on a rather depressed level.  Atwan said in
his editorial though, that if the Arab regimes were up
to it, this meeting could declare a cutting of
relations with Israel.  If, on the other hand, and as
is much more likely, they only reiterate their old
verbal positions, Atwan said that this would only
"pour oil on the burning rage of the Arab street
against their leaders and their contrived inability."



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