Middle East


Terrorist Strike in Yemen

SANAA Yemen Times (independent weekly), Oct. 16-22: For sure, the United States can rule out any Yemeni government involvement or support for [the attack on the USS Cole]. Yemeni policy has always been to follow a course that does not seek animosity with any power nor gives lip service to Arab nationalist causes. Yemen has too many mutual interests at stake with the United States to want to create any reason for animosity. Most fellow Yemenis clearly see no interest for Yemen to consider such an operation as helpful to Yemen. The authorities will do all in their power, in cooperation with U.S. investigators, to find the real culprit of this crime, which serves the interests of the enemies of Yemen and the enemies of the Arab nation as a whole.
—Hassan al-Haifi

TORONTO The Toronto Star (liberal), Oct. 14: It only takes a little rubber boat to make America, the superpower, list symbolically in the water; merely a Saudi truck bomb, blasting a miniature moon crater, to humiliate as well as kill....America abroad is seen as strong, for sure. Arrogant, by many. Humble, hardly....To some extent, every American abroad is a symbol and, therefore, vulnerable in certain places or circumstances. The U.S. State Department lists 28 countries Americans should avoid—Yemen and Israel were added Thursday.
—Calvin Woodward

LONDON The Daily Telegraph (conservative), Oct. 13: Washington was keen to promote links with the tiny state of Yemen, which occupies a strategic position at the tip of the Arabian peninsula. Worried about wavering support from the Gulf states for its persistent attacks on Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, Washington wanted to build a new naval fuel site in Aden to allow vessels to refuel away from the Gulf. Until yesterday’s attack, it was believed that Aden offered a safer option for bulk refueling.
—Tim Butcher

LONDON The Independent (centrist), Oct. 13: Alas, none of [the violence in the Middle East] was surprising—none save our continued inability to grasp what happens when a whole society is pressure-cooked to the point of explosion. A Pentagon official was saying the United States government was trying to find out if the attack on the USS Cole was “related” to “violence” in the Middle East. Come again? Related? Violence? Who can doubt that the attempt to sink the Cole and all her 360 crew was directed at a nation now held responsible for Israel’s killing of scores of Palestinian civilians? The U.S.—despite all the claptrap from Madeleine Albright about “honest brokers”—is Israel’s ally.
—Robert Fisk

MONTREAL The Gazette (centrist), Oct. 14: Yemen is known to harbor cells of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a similar Egyptian group, and two homegrown terror groups suspected of links to Osama bin Laden, the fugitive terrorist leader, whose family is from Yemen....U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark said that with 100 ships at sea around the world, the U.S. Navy would always face risks and not all could be eliminated. But the awkward questions about the USS Cole will now wend their way through months of investigations and an official inquiry.
—Ian Brodiez

TORONTO The Globe and Mail (centrist), Oct. 16: Terror is much of the warfare of our times—fought by those who see themselves enrolled in an army fighting imperialism, whether American, Russian, Israeli, or what you will. If the last century began with a Great War in which civilians were hardly engaged, this century opens with warfare in which civilians are the field of combat.
—John Lloyd

TEL AVIV Ha’aretz (liberal), Oct. 13: The Arab states are concerned about the anti-American feeling that is spreading throughout their lands. This feeling has manifested itself in yesterday’s suicide bombing of a U.S. navy ship in Yemen, in demonstrations where the call “Death to Amerca” is frequently heard, and in the burning of American flags. Most of the Arab leaders, who see the U.S. as Israel’s partner and a biased mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, nevertheless have a very close, strategic relationship with the superpower—a relationship which they are not willing to sacrifice over the Palestinian problem.
—Zvi Bar’el

MADRAS The Hindu (conservative), Oct. 16: A political riddle of relevance to India’s current initiative for a comprehensive international convention against terrorism is the definition of circumstances in which an assault on a military vessel can be deemed a heinous act of terror. The USS Cole was not actively engaged in combat duty at the time of the suspected attack. However, the ongoing process of spelling out war crimes in a new international ambience must be matched by a careful updating of the meaning of terrorism in regard to military resources and interests as well. On a different plane, the international efforts to roll back the spiraling religious-political passions in West Asia need to be intensified at this juncture. The United States is taking the lead once again, and there is a point in President Clinton’s assertion that Israel’s vision of “a final peace” with “true security” and the hopes of the Palestinians for sovereign statehood were in the first place made possible only by negotiations and not by war.