AMMAN, Jordan, March 26 (UPI) -- Arab press roundup for March 26:
Arab newspapers focused Monday on the March 28-29 Arab summit in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia's Okaz daily was optimistic in its editorial, saying all indications show it will be a success in adopting a unified position regarding the many issues of the region. The semi-official paper said there are signs there have been good preparations for the meeting of the 22-member Arab League leaders and cited Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal's comments there are "no dictates on the summit." It said the "dictates" are an Arab obsession that grows before every Arab summit is held, saying it was preceded by an American move, in obvious reference to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to the Middle East. But the Saudi foreign minister's assurances there are no dictates, the paper argued, calls for optimism that requires support for the serious issues in the area, including the Iraqi issue, the Palestinian national unity government and the fragility of Lebanon. These "need a voice of reason to defuse the crises," it said, adding if the kingdom had prepared for ensuring the success of the summit, other Arab countries should realize "there is nothing impossible to provide the necessary will" to deal with the aspirations of the Arabs.
Jordan's al-Arab al-Yawm said on the eve of the Arab summit and reviving the peace initiative the tension and struggles are escalating. It said this atmosphere is worrisome because "we realize it can affect" the summit proceedings in Riyadh, "especially that we are not certain of the Arab-Arab relations and because the conference is not immune from bickering due to the personal agendas, relationships and external and non-external interests." The daily, which describes itself as independent, stressed it is hoping for a successful summit that will come out with a brave, unified Arab position and decisions that are practical and can be implemented. "We know the bloody escalation in Iraq, the political crisis in Lebanon, the nuclear Iranian file and the American and international escalations against Iran will overshadow the Arab summit," it said. The paper insisted in a commentary the Iranian nuclear issue needs to be discussed by the Arab leaders to know the level of its dangers and effect on the Arab countries. "The repercussions of this file and the American mobilizations against Iran fall into Israel's interests and we are stuck between the Iranian nuclear reactor on the east and the Israeli nuclear reactor to the west," it said. The danger is looming on the Arabs because of this "nuclear belt if a confrontation erupts, even if it's a confrontation on the files only," it added.
Bahrain's Akhbar al-Khaleej said as the Arab summit approaches, the United States quickly moved to several Arab countries that have influence in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to urge these countries to amend the 2002 Arab peace initiative. The pro-government daily added in a commentary the U.S. moves came after Israel recognized it could be used as a basis for dialogue on the condition of amending some of its articles. It complained Washington has always acted as a "loyal representative to the interests of the Zionist entity" and adopted its suggestions to "empty the Arab initiative of its most important contents." It said the influential Arab countries so far insist on sticking to the original initiative, while the United States is pressuring and using its power with its Arab allies to amend it to serve the Israelis, especially since this peace proposal has been shelved since the Israelis rejected it from the start. The daily argued the United States will exploit the Arab weakness to pressure the Arabs into agreeing to amend the basic principles in the initiative in accordance with the "Zionist demands." It said the Arabs have also shown they are incapable of moving the Palestinian cause forward on all levels, and that's why they have so far failed to market the initiative despite its acceptance by the Europeans. The U.S. government is now moving through its secretary of state to "exploit this Arab weakness and impotence to extract more Arab concessions and document them through the upcoming summit," it said.
Syria's official Tishreen said in its editorial it was puzzled by the sudden American and Israeli interest in the 2002 Arab peace initiative and the motives behind this interest. It added while this "surprising shift" triggers doubts, there must be U.S.-Israeli reasons that prompted getting the Arab initiative off the back burner and discussing it ahead of the summit. The state-run daily argued it seems the United States and Israel are seeking to amend the initiative according to Israel's demands, starting with eliminating the right of return for Palestinian refugees. "They want to extract Arab concessions in substantial issues that cannot be compromised before even thinking of working within this initiative," it argued. The paper, however, said it was comfortable knowing the Arabs are aware of what the Americans and Israelis are doing and realize the dangers of "playing with their peaceful initiative," which it said had affirmed a unified Arab voice that the Arabs don't want more than their rights, that they are real peace advocates and that Israel does not want peace. "Accordingly, America and Israel once again miscalculated when they ignored the real substantial and central status of the Palestinian cause with the Arabs," it commented.