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Condemning Iraqi Terrorism - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Arab governments, astonishingly, have yet to condemn terrorism in Iraq. Whilst they are quick to denounce bombings elsewhere and offer condolences to victims of natural disasters, Arab regimes have yet to express outrage at the recent deaths of nearly 200 Iraqi civilians, victims of terrorists attacks, in less than two days. The Arab world has so far, remained silent, despite earlier protestations against the absence of the title “Arab” in a definition of Iraq in the draft constitution.

The official Arab position is rife with contradictions; government refuse to send ambassadors to Baghdad due to security concerns yet refrain from denouncing terrorism. Strangely, the scores of innocent Iraqis killed were murdered on the hands of the very same terrorists who have created havoc elsewhere in the Arab world. These men have denounced all Arab governments, from Morocco to Baghdad, as infidels and consider all these people as legitimate targets.

Arab countries can be divided into three main groups. The first is made up of countries, which categorically refuse to condemn terrorist attacks as they consider the insurgency to be legitimate resistance but shy way from publicly announcing such views. Governments in the second group recognize the terrorists for what they are but believe they can be of benefit as they weaken the U.S, fearing that the current administration might move on from Iraq and target neighboring countries. These regimes are putting their own stability in jeopardy and threatening the regional and international equilibrium if extremists are to assume power in Iran and terrorists build bases in Iraq.

The majority belong to the third group. They realize carnage is being committed, everyday, in Iraq, but do not want to risk standing up against their homegrown terrorists who advocate the opposite. They prefer to condemn isolated incidents, in Sharm al Sheikh, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar than to offer condolences to twenty million Iraqis.

This frightful silence is creating the wrong impression. Iraqis have told me had the victims been Sunnis, the entire Arab world would have rushed to denounce and condemn. But as those killed are, for the most part, Shi”a, governments have yet to speak. I could only explain the lack of reaction was due to fear and ineffectiveness. These Sunni countries are themselves threatened by terrorism, which does not distinguish between sects.

Iraqis believe the current Arab stand will prove to be counterproductive and predict terrorism will, in turn, infiltrate other societies and create havoc. Unfortunately, they appear to be right. The terrorist bases currently being established in Iraq are bigger and better equipped that those in Afghanistan, where many Arab young men received military training and returned to practice their craft in the countries of origin.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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