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Reuters - Arabs Watch Saddam's Demise in Disbelief


Henry

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Hello Middle East, I'd like you to meet a freind of mine. His name is Reality.

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World - Reuters

Arabs Watch Saddam's Demise in Disbelief

43 minutes ago

By Lucy Fielder

CAIRO (Reuters) - Arabs watched in disbelief on Wednesday as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), described by one Moroccan as the Arab world's "best dictator," lost Baghdad to U.S.-led forces without a fight.

"It's like a movie. I can't believe what I'm seeing," said Adel, a lawyer in Beirut. "Why didn't he just give up to start with if this was all the resistance he could muster? Instead of wasting all those lives for nothing."

In Cairo, people gathered around television sets in shops and coffee houses watching U.S. troops toppling a huge statue of Saddam in the heart of Baghdad and Iraqis dancing on it.

"It seemed that Iraqis were all with Saddam, now it looks like many didn't like him. Maybe those destroying the statue are rebels against Saddam's rule," engineer Magdy Tawfiq said as he watched Saddam's statue being toppled by a U.S. tank.

But security guard Waleed Tawfiq said he still did not believe Saddam was out. "I will be upset if it turns out Saddam has lost power. He tried to defend his land. If he is dead he will be a martyr."

Most Arabs have no love for Saddam. But his defiance toward the United States has been met with approval in a region angry at Washington's support for Israel and perceived interference in Arab affairs, and the presence of U.S. forces in Arab countries.

Three weeks of war in Iraq (news - web sites) have sparked anger across the Arab world, and the anger grew as civilian casualties mounted. Protesters at hundreds of rallies have chanted praise for "beloved" Saddam and held his picture aloft.

Rabat perfume shop owner Lahoucine Lanait described Saddam as the Arab world's "best dictator."

But few Arabs had a kind word for him as his 24-year rule collapsed on Wednesday.

"Saddam is not an Arab champion. The war is practically over, did he win? No, and Iraq is destroyed," said Ayman Abdel Rahim, a Cairo butcher.

"Saddam Hussein is proving for the thousandth time that he is stubborn, stupid, idiotic and a terrorist. He is more like the head of a gang and not the president of a respectable state like Iraq," said Sultan Nasser, 49-year-old Saudi bank employee.

STANDING UP TO THE UNITED STATES

Many Arabs liken the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (news - web sites).

In Oman, some said Saddam, whose fate is unknown after he was targeted by U.S. planes, symbolized resistance.

"It is irrelevant whether Saddam is dead or not. His memory will live on to inspire many Arabs to stand up against all the injustices committed by the U.S. and its friends in Israel," Belqees Hamood, a university student, said.

"Saddam was not an angel to his own people but he will be missed since many Arabs see him as a leader who was not afraid to challenge the American and Israeli aggressions over Palestinians," said Juma Backer, a businessman.

In Saudi Arabia, Mohsen al-Awajy, a reformist sheik who has been jailed by the country's pro-Western monarchy, said: "No one wanted to fight under Saddam's banner."

"But resistance to occupation has nothing to do with Saddam and just part of the battle is about to end now."

Adel in Beirut disagreed. "So he was the only Arab leader to stand up to the Americans. Look what happened, no one else will dare try that again."

Some said his death at the hands of U.S.-led invaders would make him a martyr. It was a question of honor.

"My hope is that Saddam falls fighting with his own gun. If he flees or surrenders, as many people believe, then he is like other Arab leaders who do not care about honor, it would be a total shame," said Sellami Hidoussi, a Tunis car garage guard.

Fahd Saleh of Saudi Arabia expressed equal dislike for President Bush (news - web sites) and Saddam.

"Saddam is a terrorist but he's not alone. Bush too is a terrorist but Saddam is weak and Bush is strong. That's why he has won, because no one opposes a strong person," said the 33-year-old Saudi government employee.

"How wonderful the world would be without Saddam and without Bush!" (Contributions from Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia)

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It really not a joke, many on the left still believe communism and socialism can work. In the words of Thomas Sowell

"Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."

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cute.

I'll ignore all jabs at socialism and leftists to address the issue at hand.

Is anyone surprised? In 1967, didn't the Arab press talk repeatedly about how Egypt was shooting down Israeli airplanes by the score? What happened next was a few days latter they woke up and their army had been soundly defeated. Over the next few years the public wanted to know what happened. How could an army that was crushing its opponent lose so convincingly?

It's taken decades for the Arab world to redevelope it's own credible news in the eyes of the Arab people. If you trace back the history of the Arab news networks, there aren't many over 10 years old, and few have had much in the way of viewership for longer than 5 years. The reason is because very few people trusted the existing news to cover events accurately. In some ways, 1967 did to their news credability what Nixon did for politicians credibility here. It has been distrusted.

I can't help but feel a little saddened that just as Arab people were starting to look towards their news again, they shold be so betrayed again. I feel doubly sad becuase it will make us earning their trust all the harder. Ask yourself why they believed they were winning? Before the war, nobody thought Iraq had a chance. They must have believed because they WANTED to believe. Why?

They wanted to believe becuase they believe the US and Israel are behind all of the evils they suffer. Some of that is true if exagerated. We did and do back many of the dictators in the region.

Now how do we get them to recognize when we do good? Do we put it on TV? Why should they believe the news this time? That's a problem. It's harder to convince people when they don't believe you or your most convenient way to talk to them.

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What precisely constitutes "backing" an Arab dictator? Okay, clearly we are to blame for the Shah's regime, since the CIA aided the coup that restored him to power. We do share some of the blame for Saddam, since we accepted and supported him as the lesser of two evils when he went after Iran. On the other hand, we were always opposed to Hafez Al Assad. Do we really back the House of Saud, just because we buy oil from them? If we didn't, Arabs would accuse us of starving the Saudi people, just as they did when we embargoed Iraq. Furthermore, Israel wouldn't disappear without US support. Quite the contrary. In fact, over-generous US aid has delayed much needed economic reform there.

Much of the hatred seems to stem from our paying off Egypt to make peace with Israel.

If we can establish a working democracy in Iraq that incorporates equal rights for the Sunni minority and avoids any large scale revenge killings, it will be an enormous propaganda victory for the U.S., which is why both Arab despots as well as Islamic fundamentalists will try so hard to sabotage it.

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riggo....now you're on the right track....without getting too far ahead of ourselves....I envision a confrontation with Syria and Lebanon in a year or so as we finally come to terms with Hamas and Hezbollah - terrorist organizations that will do everything to destabilize Iraq.

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Originally posted by Henry

But security guard Waleed Tawfiq said he still did not believe Saddam was out. "I will be upset if it turns out Saddam has lost power. He tried to defend his land. If he is dead he will be a martyr."

Martyr Schmartyr. I believe this guy was misquoted. He actually said "murderer".

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I wonder if you asked the french and canadians whether they think socialism is an effective political platform. To me, either they've fallen off the front or the backside of the stage.

As for the bleeding heart...blame america liberals, it's on to the next issue to blame the American people for. hummm... might it be Mexico's economic plight? Venezuala's sputtering economy with oil, the Argentine's corrupt govt. that has starved it's people?

America is waking up, and our success in Irag was the alarm clock!!!!!!

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